Hip Dysplasia Diagnosis and Management

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary, developmental disease that affects the coxofemoral (hip) joints of dogs. Certain breeds are more likely to be affected than others and the prevalence of the condition in large and giant breeds is well documented. Small breed dogs and cats can also be affected but this is much less common. 

The coxofemoral joint is a ball and socket joint. With hip dysplasia, the coxofemoral joint is lax and the ball of the joint comes out of the socket in varying degrees. This abnormal motion within the joint creates inflammation and damages the cartilage of the joint and osteoarthritis develops. All puppies should be evaluated for laxity in the hip joint since signs of the disease may not appear until after the dog matures. Hip pain, stiffness, abnormal gait patterns, an audible 'clicking' sound while walking, and a reluctance to exercise are all possible signs of hip dysplasia.

The disease is usually diagnosed using sedated palpation (manual manipulation) of the coxofemoral joints and radiographs (x-rays). There are multiple surgical treatment options available depending on the patient’s age, response to medical therapy and severity of the disease.