Canine hip dysplasia is a common inherited orthopaedic problem where abnormalities occur in the hip joints.
Changes to the hip joint will begin at a young age as the puppy starts to become more active and will escalate with time. These changes can lead to excessive wear and tear of the joint, causing one or both hip joints to become defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and can have serious effects on the health, behaviour and welfare of the dog.
Signs of hip dysplasia in dogs vary between individuals and breeds. Some observable signs include:
- Stiffness after rest
- Exercise intolerance
- Groaning while resting or getting up
- Difficulty in using the stairs
However, a veterinary surgeon’s physical examination will provide a more reliable assessment and radiography (XRay) is the only means of diagnosing the presence of hip dysplasia.
It is possible to alleviate some of the signs of pain and limitation of movement caused by hip dysplasia. Sophisticated medications and various surgical procedures are now available. Applied heat, massage, good bedding, exercise and weight management as well as nutrition and physiotherapy also play a part in caring for a dog affected by hip dysplasia.
Each hip is scored from between 0 (excellent) and 53 (not good), giving a combined total from between 0 (excellent) and 106 (not good). Over the past 5 years the mean average has been 15.5 and the median 10. A guide to how the hips are scored can be found here.