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My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia. What Should I Do?

My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia. What Should I Do?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a very common, painful orthopaedic condition, where the ball at the top of thigh bone (femur) doesn't sit well in socket of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition. Although some breeds are more vulnerable to it than others - e.g. rapidly growing large breeds - any dog can develop it. 

When your dog has been diagnosed as having hip dysplasia by your vet, they will give you an indication of the extent of the damage. They should give you a hip score. This will help you to understand the severity of the condition in your dog and in turn will inform which treatment for hip dysplasia is most appropriate for your individual dog.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs - Options

Treatment options differ depending on the severity of the hip dysplasia and the level of pain your dog is experiencing from it. Some dog’s x-ray will show a relatively mild amount of abnormality, and yet the dog will display considerable pain or vice versa.

Sadly, hip dysplasia for dogs can't be reversed so once a dog has developed it, the condition can't be cured. Treatment and management is either surgical or conservative (non-surgical).

Conservative or Non-Surgical Treatment Options

  • Weight control – By keeping your dog slip and at a correct and healthy weight this reduces the strain on the affected joint(s)
  • Limiting the kind of activities your dog is doing – For example short, regular walks on the lead. Try to minimise as much as possible the amount of jumping your dog does. Try to limit or stop your dog jumping or climbing on and off the sofa, in and out of the car or up and down the stairs etc.
  • Supporting your dog with a specialised hip brace - Although a brace will not cure hip dysplasia in dogs, it can give your dog the support and confidence they need while out walking or in their day-to-day life. See our selection of hip braces here
  • Anti-inflammatories and painkillers  - Can help to reduce the pain which your dog can experience with hip dysplasia. These will be prescribed by your vet
  • Keeping your dog’s environment warm - Warmth is important for alleviating joint pain from osteoarthritis in hip dysplasia in dogs. It's also important that your dog has a comfortable bed, which will support their joints, see our orthopaedic dog bed here. Providing a well-padded and warm bed will help alleviate some of the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Surgical Treatment Options

Treatment for hip dysplasia in a dog can involve a number of different surgeries. No one surgery is better than another, it just depends on how your individual dog has been affected.

As a general rule, as long as it is done appropriately, surgery is successful. For example a surgery called juvenile pubic symphysiodesis needs to be performed while your dog is under the age of 5 months - if performed after this age, however, there's little or no benefit. Other common surgeries include Total Hip Replacement (THR) and Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO), or a Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHNE).

TPO is usually performed in dogs either 10 months old or younger. It aims to restore joint stability and encourage normal joint development, as well as delay premature osteoarthritis. As such it is not appropriate if your dog has already developed a degree of osteoarthritis.

THR is more common in dogs over the age of 10 months or those who are already experiencing the onset of osteoarthritis. In a THR, just like in humans who have hip replacements, either one or both hip joints are replaced with a prosthetic. This restores normal, pain-free limb function and joint movement. This can be a very successful treatment option. Recovery time is usually 4-6 weeks post-surgery.

An alternative surgery is a Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHNE). This is more of a salvage procedure when there is significant osteoarthritis and/or a total hip replacement is too costly, or the anatomy of your dog makes a THR unfeasible. Rigorous physiotherapy after FHNE surgery is essential for a good recovery.

Post-Surgery Management

Post-surgical care involves many of the measures outlined for conservative management. Weight control, physiotherapy/hydrotherapy, limited or modified exercise, medication, a supportive brace, warmth, appropriate bedding, and supplemental joint support are all aspects of conservative management.

Osteoarthritis & Arthritis

Sadly the on-set of osteoarthritis is inevitable in a dog who has hip dysplasia, even after surgery. However, there are a number of conservative measures such as good weight management, controlled exercise, and giving a joint supplement, which can make a huge difference. In fact, studies have shown that up to 76% dogs with arthritis secondary to hip dysplasia, are able to function and live comfortable, good quality lives with conservative management. 

Further reading

Read more about Dog Hip Dysplasia Causes, Prevention and How to Help at home

Previous article Reasons Your Dog May Lose Hind Leg Mobility

What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs? Causes, Prevention and How to Help

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that causes the hip joint to develop abnormally

Read About Hip Dysplasia

Best Dog Hip Braces

Your dog might have started to show signs of hip dysplasia by crossing their back legs, tripping / falling over or having difficulty standing up

Best Hip Braces
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