Hip dysplasia is a common, hereditary problem in dogs where the ball and socket hip joint is poorly fitting. This leads to unstable hips and progressive osteoarthritis (joint inflammation). Puppies with the condition may show subtle signs such as a hopping gait or a reluctance to exercise. However, many affected dogs may not show any signs until the osteoarthritis is painful and severe.
Early diagnosis can improve your pets comfort by slowing down the development of arthritis- an irreversible condition.
Assessing your pet’s hips involves close analysis of their gait, palpation of the hips and radiographs. One of the first things we will do is gently stretch your dog’s hind legs and assess for pain on hip extension. We can also do an “Ortolani” or “Barden” test where we feel for instability in your dog’s hip joint. This test involves putting pressure on the hip joint and assessing for instability. Dogs with hip dysplasia will have unstable hips that can be slipped out of place (dislocated) with gentle pressure. The test simulates what is happening when your dog walks- the hip is partially dislocating! While this isn’t painful, the continual instability leads to severe and irreversible osteoarthritis. Sedation is required to test hip laxity.
Finally we take radiographs of both hips to assess the conformation of the hip joint and look for signs of secondary osteoarthritis. Check out the image below and compare the right hip to the left hip. Can you see the roughening of the arthritic right hip compared to the left normal hip? Can you see how the right hip is not as round and well fitting compared to the left?
Take our hip quiz to find out if your pet is at risk;
- Is your pet a large or pure bred dog?
- Does your dog waddle, swivel or wiggle their hips when they walk? (Hint- looks like they are shaking their booty!)
- Does your dog hesitate to jump on to the bed or out of the car?
- Does your dog bunny hop when running?
- Is your dog stiff or slow to rise when getting out of bed?
- Is your dog reluctant to go on their daily walk or seem stiff after exercise?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions then your dog may be at risk of having hip dysplasia. Remember, young dogs may be affected and show no signs until it is too late, so it is best to act soon.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice or to book in for a hip assessment with one of our friendly vets.