Treatment Options For Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia in dogs can vary in severity from mild irritation to crippling pain. While some breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia, it can occur in any dog at any age, including puppies as young as 5 months. Treatment options range from surgery to alternative methods such as diet, supplements and exercise.

Recognizing Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is caused by abnormal formation of the hip socket, which leads to symptoms similar to arthritis: pain or discomfort during or after exercise, change in the dog's gait, stiffness and pain in the morning, difficulty jumping or navigating stairs. The only way to distinguish between arthritis and hip dysplasia is often x-rays.

Non-Surgical Treatment

While there is no way to cure hip dysplasia without surgery, you can relieve many of the symptoms. The most important way to begin is by watching your dog's weight. Extra weight increases the pain associated with hip dysplasia, so put your dog on a lower calorie food or cut back how much he eats to maintain an ideal weight.

Your dog also needs continued exercise without placing undo pressure on the joints. Swimming can be a great alternative to running on pavement. Loose-leash walking on softer surfaces and walking on a treadmill are also effective. Just remember to go at your dog's pace. Don't push your dog to do an exercise that seems to cause him pain. Regular exercise is better than intermittent exercise so find a consistent routine that is comfortable for both you and your dog.

Make your dog's sleeping areas warmer and more comfortable. Orthopedic beds are available for your dogs as well! Try to prevent your dog from jumping on and off furniture or going up and down stairs. If your dog is allowed on your furniture, provide him with ramps or lift him, if possible. Massage can also be a great way to make your dog more comfortable.

Supplements can also help reduce the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. Glucosamine and chondrotin are two commonly used and easily accessible supplements that have shown to be effective in treating arthritis pain in both dogs and humans. Supplement cocktails can be found on veterinary web sites such as Dr. Fosters and Smith, but the supplements found at your local grocery store can be just as effective. In addition, just as humans need their Omega-3 fatty acids, dogs with hip dysplasia benefit as well. Veterinarians may prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as Rimadyl in severe cases or for short-term pain.

Surgical Options

If the above tips don't do much to ease your dog's pain, surgical options are also available. The best surgical option for dogs with degenerative joint disease from chronic hip dysplasia is the total hip replacement, in which the existing joint is replaced with an artificial joint. This surgery is for dogs who are completely grown. Most return to normal activity after surgery.

If your puppy is diagnosed, Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) might work well. This is usually for dogs younger than 10 months that show signs of hip dysplasia without degeneration of the joints. TPO consists of breaking the pelvic bones and properly realigning them. Such surgery is expensive but can be very effective. A newer, less invasive option, Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis, involves infusing the hip bones so they develop normally.

Treatment for hip dysplasia can take many forms, and often the best way to ease your dog's pain is a combination of many methods listed above. Whether opting for surgery or not, remember to keep an eye on your dog's weight and provide regular exercise. Those simple steps can go a long way.