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Hip Dysplasia in dogs… What is it? How can you treat it? And what will that cost?

Since hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic pet diseases out there, it only makes sense that we here at IndulgeYourPet take a moment and discuss exactly what it is and what it would be like to own a pet diagnosed with this condition.

Because let’s face it, many times, folks with through words out there without really knowing their true meaning or aybe they may “sort” of know what something is but not be fully aware of all the little details.  So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Hip Dysplasia Defined

In layperson’s terms, hip dysplasia is a term used to define a condition where the hip and the ball and joint socket it fits into are poorly matched. The main problem with it is that this is a degenerative common disease medical issue, which means that over time, if left untreated, it will continue to get worse and worse.  By worse and worse, we mean more painful.  This is why it’s essential to try and diagnose your pup’s condition as soon as possible so that you and your Vet can create a treatment plan to ensure the best results for your furry buddy.

Now, in more…

Technical terms: Hipp dysplasia is a term used to describe the Femoral head of the bone (that’s the ball part of the ball and socket joint) misaligning with the Acetabulum of the hip (the socket part of the ball and socket joint – the ‘joint capsule’).  This “misalignment” may cause the bones to grind against each other,  causing significant pain and possibly causing additional complications involving your pet’s ligaments and muscles.


This condition can cause lameness in the worst-case scenario. It is treatable through anti-inflammatory medication – but only to a point, which is unfortunate because this isn’t necessarily a condition that will only affect older dogs.  You see, this condition can occur in puppies from as young as four months old. Still, sometimes you won’t see any symptoms until the dog hits later life when painful osteoarthritis manifests itself, usually through limping.

Common Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

As a general rule of thumb, diagnosing hip dysplasia can be a bit “tricky.”  Hip dysplasia in dogs can manifest when they are puppies, or signs might only come to light in later life.  It could also cause your dog to start limping, or they may just be fine and not show any signs of discomfort (at first).  This is because the actual joint will try to grow more bone to stop the joint from moving – so afflicted dogs don’t always carry a limp.  In cases where this is successful, you may overlook your dog’s struggling.  In other cases, your dog’s pain will be obvious.

This is why…

You’ll want to watch out for “signs” that your dog is experiencing pain when he gets up or lies down. Be looking for reluctance to run, jump, or play – especially in younger dogs.  The truth is that Hip Dysplasia might never be apparent until your dog is in his later years when he is suddenly plagued with arthritis. An X-ray will tell you for sure.

Diagnosing hip dysplasia in dogs

If you are based in the US, your Vet will likely perform an X-ray and then send that X-ray to the Orthopedic Foundation, who will, in turn, confirm or disprove your case. The OFA has the best diagnostic methods available.

Commonly Affected Breeds

High Risk Category

Medium Risk Category

Other Breeds Known to be at Risk:

And many varieties of different Pointers.  So, after that exhaustive list, you can see that hip dysplasia is a common problem, although large canine breeds seem to be the worst affected.

Treatment Options

Possibly because this is such a common condition, there are several treatment options for you to choose from. Unfortunately, most are surgical and thus likely to run your vet bills through the roof.

Non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs…

It can be used to keep the swelling to a minimum, and depending on your dog’s age and ability to stomach this medication, this treatment is probably your least invasive option.

In milder cases…

Regular anti-inflammatory medication can be used. This will manage your pet’s pain levels an the short term. However, in more severe cases, a triple Pelvic Osteotomy is a more severe option for puppies diagnosed before the symptoms present. The pelvis is realigned manually via surgery. This operation will give your puppy a reasonably everyday life.

A Femoral Head Osteotomy…

Is another radical option better suited to dogs whose symptoms are not too severe.  Also, in older dogs, a combination of medication, exercise, and weight management may be enough to stem off the worst symptoms. A total Hip Replacement is the only viable option in the worst cases.


As you can see, depending on the age of your pet and the severity of the dysplasia, your Vet may recommend a wide variety of treatments to ensure that your pet enjoys the “best” quality of life out there.  This is why it’s so important to have a qualified veterinarian check out your pet as soon as you notice something “wrong” with them

Remember while we here at IndulgeYourPet may know a lot about animals,we undoubtedly not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals, which is why we would encourage you to follow our rules which is:

“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!”

This way, not only will you be able to ensure the least amount of pain and suffering for your little buddy, but you might also save yourself a ton of money by preventing a minor health issue from becoming a MAJOR health issue.  This reminds us to encourage any new pet owner to to ake a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • James L D. June 28, 2021, 12:44 pm

    My blue tick hound had ruins for two days, what should i do!

    • indulgeyourpet June 28, 2021, 12:48 pm

      That doesn’t sound good. When in doubt, call a vet!

      Best of luck to you and yours.


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