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Helping your dog with
Hip Dysplasia

Did you know that all dogs with Hip Dysplasia (HD) were born with normal hip joints? We'll explain what happens in the section below.. 

Hip Dysplasia Overview

HD is a painful condition which affects one or both hip joints. The joint itself is a normal shape when the dog is born but becomes damaged over time. Sometimes this damage is seen very early on and other times it is seen a few years into the dog's life. Damage occurs because the tight ligaments holding the joint together are too loose. The greater degree of laxity within the joint allows the ball (of the ball and socket joint) come in and out of the socket. This abnormal movement causes roughening of the ball and socket creating a malformed joint. ALL dogs with HD will develop secondary osteoarthritis which is also very painful. There are different degrees of severity of HD, with the most extreme needing surgery to improve quality of life. 

Signs of HD

Signs are vast and varied and can be different for each dog. The most common ones are;

  • Limping

  • Exercise intolerance (sitting / laying down on walks)

  • 'Bunny hopping'

  • Difficulty jumping up or using stairs

  • Avoidance of being touched in their hip regions

  • Loss of muscle mass in hind limbs

Causes of HD

HD is a genetic condition affecting numerous breeds , such as Labradors, Rottweilers and Pugs. Although largely genetic, there are several risk factors that can affect how it develops. These are;

  • Diet

  • Exercise (type, intensity and duration)

  • Weight

HD Treatment

Treatment options vary according to clinical signs and level of pain the dog is experiencing. There are 2 avenues for treatment;

Surgery - this comes in 2 forms; one being a total hip replacement (THR) which is recommended for larger dogs, or a femoral head / neck osteotomy (FHO) which is possible for smaller, lighter breeds.

All dogs that undergo surgery will require rehabilitation to regain full use of the limb.

Conservative management - this is where pain relief, exercise modification, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy can help maintain their quality of life and comfort levels for as long as possible. 

What can we do about it?

Plenty! We have numerous modalities in clinic that we have at our finger tips to help your dog. These include massage, soft tissue mobilisation, stretching, joint mobilisations, targeted exercises, laser therapy, hydrotherapy... shall we continue? These have all been shown to reduce pain, restore muscle function and strength, and improve your dog's quality of life. With each session they undergo constant review of their clinical signs and progression in order to gain maximum recovery at a pace that's comfortable for them. 

For Post - Operative Patients, we have a comprehensive programme tailored for your dog's specific needs, depending on the type of surgery, how successful the surgery was and their recovery so far. For Conservative Management Patients, we will always assess their pain levels, degree of mobility, muscle strength, amongst more, to enable us to create the most successful treatment plan for them.


Alongside what we do with your beloved pooch, there are a number of things outside of the clinic that can help them manage their condition or rehabilitation. Please find information in the sections below!  

Home Modifications


Wooden floors and stairs are a big slip hazard for your dog. Try using non-slip mats along the main routes of your house. Alternatively, some dogs may benefit from paw pads (please speak to us before trying this option in case of contraindication).

Feeding Stations

Raising their water and food bowls may seem like a insignificant change to us, but it can really help your dog to be in a more neutral position.

Access to Furniture

Jumping up and down from heights if often a cause of additional pain for your dog. If they enjoy a cuddle on the sofa or the bed, make it easier for them with dog-friendly steps or ramps onto furniture. This also applies to getting in / out of cars! You may also find a sling to be useful.

Keeping Warm

Especially important in the colder months, your dog will benefit from staying warmer. Keep them in a jumper and walk them out with coats. Stay dry too!

Sleeping / Resting Areas

Great quality sleep is essential. Ensure their sleeping area is free from any drafts and in a warm spot. Their bedding should be supportive and not restrictive. Memory foam mattresses without rigid or tall sides are best. Make sure your dog can access the bed and can change position / stretch out easily.

Be Wary of Terrain

Different types of terrain in the garden and on walks can be hazardous, such as steep slopes, loose or uneven surfaces. Be mindful to where they are going.

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