How to care for a dog with hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a bone disease that affects many dogs, especially those of large and giant breed. But do you really know what it is and how it is produced? And more importantly: if your pet suffers from it, do you know what care you can provide? Providing chondroprotectors and choosing the most suitable food are some tips that we give you in this article.

What is hip dysplasia?

As we said at the beginning, it is a bone disease that involves the malformation of the coxofemoral joint, that is, the one that joins the hip and the femoral head. It is hereditary and not congenital, that is, it does not manifest at birth but begins to be perceived as the puppy grows (from 4 months to 12 months of age). Being degenerative, the disease goes further, sharpening its symptoms, such as lameness and pain.

It has a higher incidence in dogs of large and giant breeds, more prone to joint problems. However, it can also be manifested in any type of breed, especially those that experience very rapid growth in size and weight in puppy age.

I think for dogs and other care to take into account

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, so you can not talk about measures to prevent its occurrence. However, certain considerations can be taken to diagnose it in early stages, slow it down and mitigate its effects.

As for the diagnosis, there are different tests that have emerged recently. The PennHip test is one of them, which indicates the probability that a certain dog suffers from this disease. There is also the Dysgen Test, developed by Bioibérica, which focuses its analysis on Labradores Retriever, one of the breeds most affected by hip dysplasia.

As for the slowdown of the disease, it is important to take care of your dog's diet, especially at an early age. You should offer feed for puppies of veterinary range, according to the advice of your veterinarian. This diet control should continue in adulthood, avoiding common dog food: weight control in animals with dysplasia should be strict so as not to aggravate the symptoms of the disease. In addition, the ideal is to provide chondroprotectors, suitable for dogs with joint problems. Its objective is to reduce the inflammation of the cartilage and improve its elasticity and flexibility.

Another aspect to consider is sterilization, especially if your dog is a Golden Retriever breed, because according to a recent study by the University of California at Davis, cases of hip dysplasia double in this breed when sterilization occurs before it is completed one year old.

As for the treatments that dogs with hip dysplasia can receive are conservatives. They include the aforementioned veterinary diet based on feed for dogs with joint problems. It is also worth mentioning the use of wheelchairs or special supports, which will allow the dog to walk with less effort and pain, especially when the disease is already widely developed.

There is also the possibility of subjecting the dog to surgical intervention. Veterinary team professionals will determine the most appropriate option and what results it can provide. Some of the possibilities are the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy or the replacement of the hip joint with a prosthesis, among others. Some are curative and others are palliative.

Regarding the Animalear online catalog, on our website you will find different products aimed at dogs with hip dysplasia. On the one hand, chondroprotectors, and on the other, veterinary feed for pets with joint problems.

What does a dog with hip dysplasia have to eat?

A dog who has been diagnosed with this disease should take great care of his weight because if he eats more than he should, he would start to gain weight, which would aggravate the problem. So that, it is extremely important that you be given only the amount of food you really need, which will be specified in the feed bag, which is advised to have neither cereals nor by-products.

Can you be given natural food? Of course. In fact, this type of feeding is best suited for all animals, whether they are sick or healthy (more information on this topic, here). If you don't have time to prepare it, you can give it Diet Yum, Summun or Naku, which are natural foods. But when you have a dog with dysplasia, you should be given chondroprotectors, which will prevent injuries by nourishing and strengthening the cartilage.

Is it to be operated?

The surgery is very advisable, since this prevents it from getting worse, especially if it is a large dog or with severe dysplasia. Usually, beamputates the head of the femur, so the problem disappears almost completely. Instead, our friend's organism will create a pseudo-articulation with fibrous tissue that will be able to support its weight.

In the most serious cases, a hip prosthesis is chosen, and in the milder cases it is preferred that the animal take medications that will relieve pain.

If you see that your friend has a hard time walking, do not hesitate to take him to the vet.

Because it happens?

There are several factors that can favor appearance of hip dysplasia: a diet with excess energy or protein, dogs of medium or large size with very fast growth, physical exercise too intense, or make the dog run or jump intensely when it is too young. All of them are negative factors that can contribute to developing hip dysplasia.

This malformation of genetic origin must always be diagnosed by a veterinarian by x-rays, but the signs that will alert the owner they are: a dog that has difficulty standing up after being long lying down or a dog whose walks get too tired. Before these symptoms you should go to a professional to confirm if it is hip dysplasia.

What can I do to help my dog ​​with hip dysplasia?

You have several techniques that you can apply to help your dog with hip dysplasia, always with the aim of strengthen and relax muscles (especially the gluteal muscle mass, fundamental for the stability and mobility of the hip) and eliminate or relieve pain.

We will explain below what exercises you can do to help your dog with hip dysplasia. Keep reading!

A dog with hip dysplasia tries not to support the paw affected by the pain it suffers and because of it may suffer muscle atrophy on that leg: massage the dog promotes recovery of the muscle, and corrects the bad posture of the spine.

We practice a relaxing massage along the spine of our dog: we rub it in favor of hair with gentle pressure, you can also make circular movements on both sides of the spine. The muscles of the hindquarters are massaged by rubbing.

If your dog has short hair, you can also massage it with a prickly ball: massaging it against the ball stimulates blood flow and prevents extreme atrophy.

Of course, it is important don't touch the column and always be on both sides of her and not on top of her.

Passive movements

If your dog has been operated by his hip dysplasia, you can carefully manipulate the affected or operated joint, one week after the intervention, according to the veterinarian. To do this you have to put your dog a soft bed or cushion the affected hip.

Passive movements are ideal for correcting dysfunctions articular such as hip dysplasia, however a healthy dog ​​should not do these exercises.

The owner of the dog must perform all movements on the dog and the dog must remain lying sideways, relaxed and still. Before starting the passive movements, we prepare the dog with a massage or applying heat in the hip area.

We will explain the manipulations we would do if the affected joint were the right hip, but if the affected joint were the other, our manipulation would change accordingly.

If the affected joint is the right hip, we place the dog on its side, lying with its left side touching the ground, and with its left rear leg perpendicular to the trunk.

  • Flexion / Extension: With our right hand we will hold your left hind leg at the level of your knee, so your leg rests on our right arm. Then our right hand performs the movements, while the left hand, placed on your hip joint, can feel signs of pain and crepitations. We move the hip joint slowly from rhythmic flexion to extension 10-15 times.
  • Abduction / Adduction: Abduction is the action of moving the leg away from the trunk, while adduction consists of bringing it closer to it. We stand behind the dog, take its bent knee and perform the movements smoothly about 10-15 times.

It is important that we make sure that the leg underneath is resting on the ground, and that it does not lift by pulling. For both types of movements, we have to make sure that only the hip joint moves passively, but only that.

As in the massage, we have to develop the sensitivity of the dog, making small and always slow movements at the beginning to allow him to relax and that the treatment is not unpleasant. It is important to always limit the dog's pain to the maximum!

Stabilizing or active exercises

Stabilizing exercises are good for both a dog with hip dysplasia that does not support long walks as a conservative treatment to avoid an operation, as for a dog that has been operated for his hip dysplasia as muscle rehabilitation.

These exercises can be done about 3 weeks after the operation, depending on the size of the dog, after talking with the veterinarian. When used in conjunction with massage and passive movements, the use of the support and the trampoline must be left to the end, but the same techniques described in these sections can be applied.

    Supports: We place the dog with the front legs raised on a support: for a small dog the support can be a thick book. This posture causes tension in the muscles of the spine and hind limbs.

The exercises in support tire the dog with hip dysplasia very much or that has been operated on: 5 repetitions of each of the three stages that we are going to see are perfectly sufficient at the beginning.

  1. We stand behind the dog and hold it to balance it, grab the dog's shoulder and subject it to a gentle traction in the direction of the tail (towards us). This movement strengthens almost all of the dog's muscles: limbs, abdomen and back. We keep some seconds and relax, we repeat about 5 times.
  2. Then we grab the knee joint and also pull it towards the tail, we can feel in our hands the relaxation of the muscles of the hip and the posterior train. We keep some seconds and relax, we repeat about 5 times.
  3. We keep the knee joint high and this time we press it forward, in the direction of the dog's head. We keep some seconds and relax, we repeat about 5 times. Over time, our dog will better withstand the exercises and his muscles will gradually strengthen.
  • Trampoline: The trampoline is an unknown object for the dog, it is important to progressively accustom it to this new device: performing these exercises with a tense or stressed dog will not give good results.

    It is essential that the trampoline can support a minimum weight of 100kg since we will have to get on with it, that it has a minimum diameter of one meter and that it has the TUV mark. A good way to introduce the trampoline is to get on first, and with the dog held between our legs, wait a few seconds or minutes to calm down and reward it with a treat when allowed to manipulate.

  1. We overload the left hind leg first and then the right leg slowly. We can perform these active movements about 10 times.
  2. It is important to perform these alternating movements slowly and cu>

If the dog likes it, swimming is a excellent way to strengthen your muscles without overloading your joints. Hydrotherapy in an underwater tape is another option: the dog walks on a tape, in the water which allows to preserve its joints, this technique is carried out by a physiotherapist.


For more advanced techniques, you can consult a physiotherapist who, in addition to the above, may apply other techniques such as thermotherapy: cryotherapy and heat application, electrotherapy, ultrasound, laser and acupuncture.

Remember throughout this process your dog you will need more attention than usual For that reason, do not hesitate to consult everything about hip dysplasia in order to offer concrete care to your best friend.

Does your dog also suffer from hip dysplasia? Do you want to recommend some exercise to another reader? Do not hesitate to tell us if you have ideas or advice from your veterinarian, other users will thank you.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Exercises for dogs with hip dysplasiaWe recommend that you enter our section on Degenerative diseases.