Preventing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Often, hip dysplasia in dogs is a genetic disorder that cannot be prevented once you have acquired a dog prone to the disease. However, there are many things that can be done to reduce the onset and intensity of hip dysplasia such as proper nutrition and exercise.

Proper Breeding

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder that occurs more often in certain breeds. It is caused by a subluxation of the hip joints, which causes erosion of the tissues that keep the joint moving smoothly.

Breeding a dog with hip dysplasia—or one too young to be properly tested—is irresponsible breeding and will result in the increased prevalence of the disease. Every breeder with breeds prone to hip dysplasia should have their dogs' hips checked before breeding.

If you are looking to purchase a dog from a breeder, research the genetic diseases of your chosen breed and ask the breeder if they test for those diseases. If they can't give you a health certificate from a veterinarian, look elsewhere.

Proper Nutrition

Obesity increases the onset of hip dysplasia and, depending on the life stage of the dog, can even play a role in causing it. Overweight adolescent dogs are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia, as reported from a study done on Labrador retrievers.

Dogs that don't receive proper amounts of calcium and other nutrients, especially when growing, are also more likely to develop the disease.

Especially when your dog is young, feed him a high-quality diet. Stay away from foods that have cheap filler such as corn and wheat as well as foods that contain meat byproducts, which have very little nutritional value. Choose foods that have high-quality proteins for the first three ingredients and that don't have preservatives or food coloring.

Proper Exercise

While exercise and mental stimulation are an important part of puppy development, overexercise at a young age can actually prevent the proper growth of bones, muscles and joints, which can lead to joint problems such as hip dysplasia.

Running and swimming are considered excellent ways to exercise your young dog, but consider avoiding dog sports until your dog is 18 to 24 months. Avoid activities that involve a lot of jumping, like Frisbee, or going down a lot of stairs.

If you have a dog that is prone to hip dysplasia, consider using a ramp when he gets in and out of the car or off high furniture until he is 18 to 24 months.


Studies have shown that glucosamine and chondrotin, which are naturally found in your dog's connective tissues, can be replaced through supplements purchased at health food stores. If given preventatively, it may postpone the onset of hip dysplasia in a dog prone to the disease.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that often can't be prevented. However, by encouraging proper breeding procedures, feeding a healthy diet and reducing high-impact exercise, instances of the disease can be reduced. Hip dysplasia is a progressively degenerative disease, so any measure of prevention you can take will improve the quality of your dog's life for years.