Pain Management for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a condition that occurs due to abnormal alignment of the hip joint in pets. It's commonly seen in large breed dogs, genetically predisposed to the condition. Puppies that have normal hip joints and bone structure may also develop the condition as they age. Dog breeds susceptible to hip dysplasia include Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Great Danes and Rottweiler's.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Most pets exhibit the symptoms of hip dysplasia when the ball of the hip joint doesn't fit adequately into the socket. The symptoms of hip dysplasia are very similar to canine arthritis and include lameness, difficulty walking, limping and inability to run or climb. Pets that don't exercise or engage in outdoor activity gradually loose muscle and require surgical intervention to help relieve the condition. Pets that exhibit all the symptoms of hip dysplasia also suffer from severe pain and discomfort. In addition, the pet may cry in pain if the affected part is touched. Hip dysplasia has to be cured with medical intervention in order to prevent severe bone damage. The vet will perform several X-rays after placing the hind legs in various positions. This will determine the severity of bone damage and loss of muscle.

Pain Medication for Canine Hip Dysplasia

Oral medication used to treat the symptoms of hip dysplasia only provides temporary relief. Surgical intervention is the only treatment option to completely cure the condition. Total hip replacement surgery is performed in older dogs. This surgery involves surgical removal of the diseased hip joint and replacement with an artificial hip joint. Pain medication may be prescribed to bring relief from the symptoms of hip dysplasia and as post-surgery medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesic medication reduces pain and provides short term relief from the symptoms of hip dysplasia.

Common Pain Killers

  • Rimadyl
  • Etodolac
  • Tramadol
  • Novox
  • EtoGesic


Most pain killers are prescription drugs that should be administered only according to vet instructions. Although the pain killers work effectively, pets may develop side effects that include tarry stools, skin irritation, diarrhea, dizziness and constipation. Dogs that develop any other side-effects require medical help. These medications may also have drug interactions with certain non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs and steroids. It's also important to inform the vet about other medication prescribed to the dog including vitamins and herbal supplements.

Other Pain Reducing Options

Another procedure known as visco-supplementation is also used to reduce the pain in pets. During this procedure the vet will inject hyaluronic acid or poly-sufated glycosaminoglycans into the affected hip joint. Visco-supplementation works as a lubricant and prevents friction due to abnormal joint alignment.

Combination Medication

A combination of drugs often works better to relieve inflammation and soreness. The vet may prescribe acetaminophen in combination with other anti-inflammatory drugs for a specific duration of time. However, acetaminophen causes severe side effects and the dogs should be monitored during treatment. Since prolonged medication increases the risk of other health concerns, pet owners should consider surgery as another alternative. Most pets respond favorably to surgery and live happy lives.

Since the cost of surgery and medical treatment is expensive, pet owners should discuss with the vet, treatment options best suited to individual dog needs.