My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia... What Should I Do?

Well, the first thing is don’t panic. Because your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia does not necessarily mean that your dog is going to have terrible hip problems for the rest of his life. What they’ve found in dogs is that the degree of looseness or arthritis that is seen on x-ray doesn’t always match up with the signs and symptoms that the dog is exhibiting. I’ve seen dogs that have teeny-tiny, just a little, tiny bit of hip dysplasia that’s seen on their x-rays, and they’re really painful. I’ve seen dogs with terrible end-stage arthritis, I don’t know how they’re walking around, but they’re walking around just fine.

So, if your dog has hip dysplasia, the first thing to do is not panic, and don’t assume the worst. The second thing to do is to talk with your veterinarian about all the options that are available for your pet, because based on the size, and age, and severity of the disease, there are lots of different options available to help you care for your pet and make sure that your dog has the best quality of life possible, even with a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.There is pain medication. There is physical therapy. There is surgical correction. There are lots of options for you to pursue, that will help your dog to deal with this diagnosis.

The other thing that it will be really good for you to do is to look into joint supplements, such as glucosamine sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate, and fish oil, things like that, because you want to protect the cartilage as much as possible. So, any healthy cartilage that your dog has in their hip joints, you want to feed and nurture that cartilage, so getting your dog on a joint supplement that is veterinarian-recommended is an excellent way to start to promote the best joint health possible in your dog.

It’s also a good idea to get your dog a supportive sleeping surface, because when joints that have arthritis in them are on hard surfaces, or cold surfaces, that actually can make the pain seem worse. So getting your dog up off the floor on a supportive sleeping surface is going to be a really good thing for you to do.

The last thing that’s really important is … Well, there’s two things, actually. One, make sure your dog is not overweight at all. So, when a dog is too heavy, it puts increased stress and strain on all of the joints, and if you have a dog that has hip dysplasia, then that makes it even worse, so ask your veterinarian what an ideal weight for your dog is, and if your dog isn’t at an ideal weight, then start a weight loss program to get your dog there.

And lastly, exercise. My physical therapist says, “Motion is lotion,” so the more you can get your dog outside, walking around, maybe swimming is an excellent exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia, then you are going to minimize the pain and stiffness associated with the disease

Dr. Sarah Wooten

A lifelong dog lover, Dr. Wooten is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with 16 years experience in small animal general practice.

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