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4 common causes of hip dysplasia in dogs

4 common causes of hip dysplasia in dogs

Hip dysplasia is an uncomfortable condition that can impact your dog’s day-to-day life. Though hip dysplasia is a common condition in dogs, many pet owners are still unaware of its origin. So what causes hip dysplasia in our canine companions?

In this article we’ll dive into the details of hip dysplasia in dogs and help you understand how our pups fall victim to this painful condition.

Hip dysplasia: A brief overview

Before we discuss the main factors behind canine hip dysplasia, let’s first introduce you to the condition and how it can impact your pup. Hip dysplasia is a painful joint condition that refers to the improper alignment of the hip. In a normal canine hip joint, the ball and socket joint will glide smoothly with each step. In a dog with hip dysplasia, the improper alignment of the joint causes it to rub and grind. This is not only uncomfortable for the dog that’s affected, but it can also cause joint deterioration over time.

Because hip dysplasia can be so uncomfortable, there are a few common signs of pain that you may see in a dog with the condition. Some of the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include: 

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

Breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia

Though hip dysplasia can impact any breed of dog, there is a list of breeds that are most at risk. These breeds are known to pass down susceptibility to the condition, as well as experience fast periods of growth that put them at risk. The breeds that are most prone to hip dysplasia include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Saint Bernards
  • Rottweilers
  • Great Danes
  • Mastiffs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Basset Hounds 

As you can see, not every dog on this list is a large-breed dog. Though the condition was originally thought to only impact large and giant breed dogs, we know now that it’s not the case. If hip dysplasia is present in a dog's family history, they are at risk.

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?

When it comes to hip dysplasia in dogs, there are a few known causes behind the painful condition. To help you understand what puts your dog at risk, let’s dive into the most common factors below.

1. Genetics

Genetics are the most common cause of hip dysplasia in dogs. Most cases of hip dysplasia are passed down from dog to dog and are the result of irresponsible breeding. Genetics play such a huge role in this condition that many vets believe it's the only true cause. The threat of hip dysplasia is one of the main reasons why it's so important to understand your dog's history.

2. Fast growth periods

Since hip dysplasia is the improper alignment of the hip, it’s possible that large dog breeds with fast growth can develop hip dysplasia. Though it is possible for a dog to develop the condition due to their fast growth, it's often just exacerbated in an already at risk dog.

3. Improper nutrition

When our canine friends are growing into adulthood, they need all the nutrients they can get. A balanced diet helps our dogs produce strong bones and lean muscle mass. Because of this, it may be possible for improper nutrition to lead to this condition in some dogs. The threat of future joint conditions is a reminder to always offer your puppy an approved diet for growth.

 4. Vigorous exercise

Since vigorous exercise can impact on our dog’s joints, many vets believe that it can lead to the development of hip dysplasia in at-risk dogs. Though excessive exercise can damage a dog’s joints over time, it will likely only exacerbate the condition in dogs that have dysplasia in their genetic history.

Managing hip dysplasia

If your dog is struggling with hip dysplasia, you may be looking for ways to offer them more comfort. Proper management of the condition can offer a dog more longevity, as well as improve their quality of life going forward. In order to help your canine friend through their struggles, let’s dive into the best ways to manage it.

Joint supplements

Joint supplements are an incredible way to manage hip dysplasia and prevent future joint damage. Joint supplements are filled with impressive ingredients that target inflammation, repair damaged cartilage, and protect joints from deterioration. Some of the common ingredients in joint supplements include chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM, and more. Joint supplements are so beneficial that many vets now recommend them for all large-breed dogs. 

Weight management

Keeping your dog slim and trim is one of the best ways to manage hip dysplasia. Excess weight in dogs is a threat to their overall health, but is especially risky for dogs with hip dysplasia and other joint conditions. Excess weight only adds stress on their already painful joints, making their life much harder than it needs to be. 

Omega fatty acids

Omega fatty acids are another dietary supplement that will benefit your canine companion. Omega fatty acids are a chain of nutritional fats that not only target inflammation, but help to promote immune health. Since hip dysplasia can cause so much discomfort and inflammation within the hip joints, omega fatty acids can offer them the relief they deserve.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is a wonderful way to manage your dog’s pain and help them maintain a healthy weight. Though there are professional physical therapy options that are extremely beneficial, there are at home options as well. Physical therapy can involve water therapy, stretching, range of motion exercises, short walks, and more. As long as it is a light form of exercise, it can help your struggling pup to succeed.


As you can see, hip dysplasia is a painful condition that is most often hereditary in our dogs. Though our beloved companions may be at risk, education on the condition is the best way to offer them comfort. Be sure to review the tips we mentioned above and you will be prepared for any joint condition that comes your dog’s way.

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

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