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Published: Mar 30, 2012

Hip dysplasia in dogs is one of the most common skeletal conditions and certain breeds have a genetic predisposition for it. Because this condition is a result of the hips failing to develop properly with the subsequent development of arthritis, there is not much you can do to fix it once your dog is fully grown. However, there are a number of ways you can make it more comfortable and ease any pain caused by the condition.

Large breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, German shepherds, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards are the most commonly affected.  If you have a large breed dog, you should be on the lookout for clinical signs of the condition, according to Dogs of either gender may exhibit a decreased level of activity and thee most common signs include a swaying or bunny hopping gait, stiffness or a reluctance to rise from a sitting position and decreased range of motion in the hip joint. Lameness in dogs, including hip dysplasia, requires radiographs (x-rays) for the diagnosis.

With the guidance of your veterinarian, there are several therapeutic approaches to soothe the pain of arthritis at home. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends applying a warm water bottle to the dog's hips for 15 minutes twice a day and massaging the muscles around the hip joints for as long as 10 minutes a day. VCA Animal Hospitals reports hip dysplasia causes arthritis and painful inflammation within the hip joint and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can often be used very successfully to control pain.  VCA states there are several supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, omega 3 fatty acids which can also aid a dog with arthritis.  Although it is not right for every pet, surgery is also available for some severely affected dogs.

Several additional modifications can be made to help your dog with hip dysplasia.  It is important to provide daily exercise in order to keep your dog’s muscles strong.  Swimming is an excellent exercise as it limits stress on joints and encourages a large range of motion.  Providing your dog a soft padded bed with an orthopedic support insert can make resting and rising more comfortable.  The use of ramps can help a large dog into the car or onto the bed or couch.