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Hip Dysplasia


Hip Dysplasia is a disease caused by malformation of the hip joint where the head of the femur doesn’t fit perfectly in the socket. This condition is most common in large breeds, such as Labradors and German Shepherds, although it can occur in any breed (including small / toy breeds).



Symptoms of severe Hip Dysplasia may develop in young growing dogs as young as 4 months of age. However, dogs with mild Hip Dysplasia will often not show signs until they are older. Common signs of Hip Dysplasia include:


- lameness or stiffness in one or both hind legs

- a “bunny-hopping” or waddling gait

- difficulty getting up or reluctance to sit

- loss of muscle definition / mass in the hind legs

- reluctance or difficulty jumping



A physical examination from one of our veterinarians is useful in determining if Hip Dysplasia is likely. However, x-rays are required to make a diagnosis. X-rays are performed under a general anaesthetic and are a day stay procedure.At Parap and Palmerston Veterinary Hospitals we are able to take x-rays for hip and elbow scoring purposes.



When buying a pure-bred large dog it is advisable to buy from a registered high quality breeder. Both parents should have excellent hip and elbow scores. This will reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of your puppy developing Hip Dysplasia.Feeding puppies, especially large breed puppies, a high quality commercial puppy food is also essential. It is important that the puppy is not overfed so that they do not grow too quickly.



Treatment options for Hip Dysplasia depend greatly on the severity and the age of diagnosis. If diagnosed early (while still growing) there are a number of surgical options available to help prevent arthritis and pain. Older animals with severe arthritis may also be candidates for hip replacement surgery. There are also many medical treatments to help control pain and prevent arthritis. For further information on these treatments please see Arthritis or Contact us for more information.

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