Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a genetic developmental disorder found in dogs that affects the hip joints unilaterally or bilaterally [1]. This orthopaedic abnormality impacts the formation of the acetabulum (socket) and femoral head (ball) and how they fit. If there is a loose fit between the top part of the thigh bone or femur and the hip joint, and the ligaments that assist in holding them together are also loose (joint laxity), they may slide partly from the socket. Over time, other degenerative changes may occur (Osteoarthritis), causing joint slippage, severe pain and inflammation. This can cause dogs to become lame and week in the hind end [2, 3, 1]. It is estimated that approximately 30% of orthopaedic cases in veterinary practices are related to hip dysplasia (as cited by J. Parry, 2018 [4]). Canine hip dysplasia is prevalent in larger dog breeds. Some dog breeds that can be affected by hip dysplasia include Akita, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Great Date and English Cocker Spaniel.

How Fast Can Canine Hip Dysplasia Develop?

Although hip dysplasia is primarily a genetic disorder, there are many environmental factors such as obesity and diet which can increase the risks of a dog developing the disease if it has the genetic markers for it. Several researchers have concluded that canine hip dysplasia is not present at birth but is largely expressed later due to several environmental factors including diet (as cited in J. Parry, 2018 [1]). Hip dysplasia is frequently seen in rapidly growing puppies and adult dogs. According to a study by Fries & Remedios (2015), hip dislocation can begin as early as two weeks of age [4]. This makes sense because puppies tend to grow at a fast rate, especially those from larger dog breeds. Dogs can also develop canine hip dysplasia at any stage in their lives if the environmental factors are favourable and extensive.

Signs and symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Some typical clinical signs and symptoms of canine hip dysplasia include:

  1. Limping on one or both hind legs
  2. Stiffness
  3. Protective of hip area during bathing and or grooming
  4. Severe pain
  5. Difficulty climbing stairs, rising, lying or sitting
  6. Abnormal gait- possibly swaying while walking or running
  7. Decreased activity


There are many methods used for diagnosing canine hip dysplasia. Your Veterinarian may use one of more methods such as Radiographs, Ortolani Test and The Norberg Angle. Radiography is the most common methods used. The British Veterinary Association/ Veterinary Club has its own standards for diagnosing canine hip dysplasia. The hip joints are radiographed and examined by two radiologist and scored based of nine criteria. A total score of 0 based on all nine criteria from both radiologists’ scores indicates the best hips and combined scores of 106, the worst hips (as cited by J. Parry, 2018). These scores are also used to determine which dogs are safe for breeding, with the intention of potentially reducing the likelihood of genes associated with hip dysplasia being transferred to future offspring.


What can be done to reduce likelihood of developing Canine Hip Dysplasia?
  1. Monitor your puppy’s or dog’s weight
    Rapid weight gain and obesity are the some of the contributing environmental factors which increase the risks of canine hip dysplasia development and progression. Puppies must not be fed ad libitum. Provide your puppy with the recommended daily food amounts instructed by your Pet Food manufacturer. Puppies will eat as much food as you give them. Some simply don’t know when to stop. As long as there is food then they will eat. Obesity puts a lot of strain on the joints. Approximately 59% of household dogs and cats are overweight [5]. According to a pet research survey, a wide majority of pet owners generally do not notice that their companion animal is obese even when they are morbidly so [6]. By reducing their feed and slowing down their growth, allows for proper joint development without putting too much strain on them. Make it a regular habit to examine your puppy to see whether it is getting too chubby. Can you feel the ribs? At most times if you not being able to feel the ribs gives an indication that your dog has too much weight on. This may not be true for all breeds, but it is a noteworthy indication. Knowing the ideal weight range for your dog breed as a puppy and adult will also help guide you. Using Body Condition Score charts (BCS) are an ideal way of gauging whether your dog is of the ideal weight. See link to free body condition chart for dogs:…/Body-Condition-Score-Dog.pdf [7]Seek professional help from a Veterinarian or other veterinary official if you are unsure about how to examine your dog properly. Maybe you could have someone else make their own assessment of your dog? If your dog is indeed overweight, please reduce its feed and/or seek a Veterinarian or Animal Nutritionist for guidance.
  1. Allow your dog to exercise
    Too much or too little exercise can increase the likelihood of your dog developing hip dysplasia. Talk to your vet about the best appropriate exercise regime for your dog to keep in good physical condition [8].
  2. Monitor the calcium levels in your dog feed
    Calcium is needed in the body to support strong bones and plays an important role in processes such as digestion, muscle contraction and cognitive health. High calcium levels in your dog feed, especially that of puppies can increase risks of developing hip dysplasia. This encourages malformation of hip bones. According to the National Research Council (NRC), a division of the National Academy of Sciences, a healthy adult dog requires 50 milligrams of calcium per kilogram of body weight [9]. Some commercial dog foods may contain excessive amounts of calcium. It is important to examine your dog food labels to know whether it is okay.


The best treatment for hip dysplasia is dependent on the severity and progression of the disease. In mild cases the veterinary surgeon may recommend anti-inflammatory pain medication, restricted exercise and/or a specialised diet. There are several surgical options which are at most times reserved for severe cases. Your dog may have hip joint replacement. A combination of treatments such as anti-inflammatory and pain medications, specialised exercise routine, weight management, joint supplement and specialised diet can help your dog live a normal life

What can I feed my dog to help with Symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia?

  1. Food with potent anti-inflammatory properties such as carrots, quinoa, blueberries, ginger, turmeric, coconut oil and cranberries are excellent choices for your dog. They can help to reduce the pain associated with inflammation in the joints.
  2. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can aid in protecting and improving joint and bone health. Green lipped mussels are a rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin.

The dog food company Cerberus Dog Food Ltd. has a wide range of specialised meals for dogs suffering from various health issues. Their meals include powerful superfoods that may help to reduce the risks of developing certain diseases that your dog breed may be prone too. They also include exotic foods that may help to reduce the symptoms of health issues that your dog may be currently facing.

Canine hip dysplasia is a disease that can be very painful and debilitating if not addressed quickly. By paying attention to your dog, seeking advice from your veterinary professional, monitoring your dog’s weight and providing your dog with nutritious food in the right quantities you can help your dog to live a happy life.


[1] J. Parry, Canine Hip Dysplasia: A comprehensive analysis, 2018.

[2] Crook A et al., “Hip Dysplasia,” canine Inherited Disorders Database (CIDD), 2011. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 04 January 2019].

[3] Schachner E R and Lopez M J, ” Diagnosis, prevention, and management of canine hip dysplasia: a review,” Veterinary Medicine Research and Reports, vol. 6, pp. 181-192, 2015.

[4] Fries C. L., & Remedios A. M., “The pathogenesis and diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia: a review,” The Canadian Veterinary Journal, vol. 36, pp. 494-502, 1995.

[5] P. V. J., “Obesity Prevention and Managment,” 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 07 January 2019].

[6] Krasuska M., Webb T.L., “How effective are interventions designed to help owners to change their behaviour so as to manage the weight of their companion dogs? A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Preventive Veterinary Medicine, vol. 159, pp. 40-50, 2018.

[7] W. G. N. Committee, “Body Condition Score,” [Online]. Available:…/Body-Condition-Score-Dog.pdf. [Accessed 03 January 2019].

[8] A. Burke, “Hip Dysplasia in Dogs,” American Kennel Club, 31 May 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 06 January 2019].

[9] “Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs: A Science-Based Guide For Pet Owners,” 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 06 January 2019].


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