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How to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs?

Dog running with tongue out

Hip dysplasia is a serious condition that can cause our dogs extreme discomfort. With being such a challenge for our furry friends, prevention of this condition is always best when possible. So are there effective ways to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs?

In this article we’ll dive into the basics of hip dysplasia in dogs and offer you ways to prevent this painful condition in your canine companion. 

What is hip dysplasia? 

So what is hip dysplasia, anyway? This painful condition in dogs is classified by the improper alignment of the canine hip joint. With the hip joint being a ball and socket joint, it relies on smooth movement to help our dogs move with ease. In a dog with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket joint is unable to function properly. The condition causes the joint to rub and grind, often resulting in great discomfort for the dog affected. Not only is hip dysplasia extremely painful for pups, but it can cause serious joint damage over time. 

While there are a list of factors that can contribute to hip dysplasia in dogs, it’s most often a hereditary condition. Genetics play a huge role in most cases of dysplasia in dogs, and is often passed down from dog to dog because of this. Since hip dysplasia has become a fairly common joint condition, it's one of the main reasons why it’s so important to choose a responsible breeder.

Signs & symptoms of hip dysplasia

One of the best ways to prevent an uncomfortable condition like hip dysplasia is to understand any changes in our dog’s behavior. Since our canine companions can’t tell us how they are feeling each day, it’s up to us to watch them closely and understand the common signs of pain. By understanding the subtle signs of discomfort, we can address any signs of hip dysplasia from the moment they begin!

Some of the most common signs and symptoms seen in dogs with hip dysplasia include:

  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Slowing down with time
  • Crying out or whining during physical activity
  • Stiffness or decrease in their flexibility
  • Disinterest in activity they once enjoyed
  • Decrease in daily activity
  • Change in their normal gait
  • Decrease in the thigh muscle mass
  • Weakness in their hind legs
  • Sensitivity in their back end

Factors that contribute to hip dysplasia

While hip dysplasia may be hereditary, it can be exacerbated by a few common factors. Though many vets believe hip dysplasia is only acquired through genetics, these factors have been shown to make at risk dogs more prone to developing complications. Some of the most common situations that put an at risk dog in danger of developing this condition include:

  • Canine obesity
  • Offering an improper diet
  • Excessive exercise during growth periods
  • Fast growth periods in large and giant breeds

Now that you understand the basics of hip dysplasia in dogs, let’s discuss some of the best ways to prevent hip dysplasia and joint pain in your beloved companion!

7 ways to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs

Prevention is key when it comes to so many health conditions that impact our dog’s quality of life. The best way to get ahead of a condition is by stopping it in its tracks, making the next 7 tips so important for at-risk dogs!

Choose a responsible breeder

Perhaps the most important way to prevent having a dog with hip dysplasia is by choosing a responsible breeder. Since hip dysplasia is most often linked back to genetics, choosing a puppy with parents free of the condition is the best way to prevent the issue in itself. A responsible breeder will always offer medical paperwork clearing each parent of hereditary conditions, as well as offering a clean bill of health for the puppy. Though choosing a puppy with a cheap price tag may be tempting, it can result in devastating conditions down the line. 

Offer a nutritional diet

A nutrient rich diet is beneficial for our canine friends in many ways. Not only can a nutritious diet keep your pets properly nourished, but it can help to prevent health complications down the road. Since hip dysplasia is a condition that involves the proper alignment of the hip, you never want to offer a diet that can negatively impact their growth. A well-rounded diet can optimize proper growth and minimize the risk of complications from hip dysplasia. If your dog has hip dysplasia, ensuring the right anti-inflammatory diet is critical

Never overwork growing dogs

Your dog’s period of growth during their puppyhood is an important time. This growing period will define their comfort into their adult years, so it’s important to promote healthy growth as much as possible. The growth spurts that our growing dogs transition through is a delicate process, meaning that any disruption can result in great harm. Since extreme exercise and stress as a puppy has been proven to affect a dog’s joint health in the future, it’s essential to avoid overworking your growing dog. Vigorous exercise can cause severe joint damage to our dog’s in the future, so try your best to avoid over exerting your puppy at all times. If you’re a runner, avoid running on hard surfaces (like sidewalks) with your puppy until he or she is full grown.

Offer dietary supplements

Dietary supplements are a wonderful way to promote joint health and prevent the development of canine hip dysplasia. Since any type of joint damage can exacerbate hip conditions, it’s important to protect and strengthen our dog’s joints when we can. Dietary supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, colloidal silver, MSM, and more have been linked to proper joint and skin health in our canine companions. You can either offer these supplements separately, or find a joint supplement that offers a daily combination. 

Keep them slim and trim

Since excess weight can put unnecessary stress on our dog’s joints, it’s best to keep their weight managed as much as possible. Canine obesity can further damage the hip joints in at-risk dogs and result in extreme discomfort over time. In order to prevent hip dysplasia in your pup, it’s best to keep them at a healthy weight throughout their life. 

Address injuries immediately

Since hip dysplasia is essentially an irregularity in the hip joint, any injury to the hip or joints can result in the exacerbation of hip dysplasia. Unresolved bone and joint injuries can cause dogs to experience joint deterioration over time, leading to the possible development of hip dysplasia and other painful conditions. In order to offer your dog the best chance at a pain-free future, it's important to address any injuries as they occur. 

Keep up with annual vet exams and diagnostics

Not only are annual vet visits important for keeping up with preventative care, but they can also pick up on developing illnesses and other conditions. Keeping your vet informed of changes in behavior can help them catch on to developing conditions, as well as offer them a healthier future going forward. 


Prevention is always the key when it comes to offering our dogs the comfortable future they deserve. Be sure to review the tips we discussed about preventing hip dysplasia and you can set your at-risk dog up for success!

The article is written by Amber LaRock, RVT on October 30, 2020.

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