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Treating and managing Canine Hip Dysplasia

If your dog has now been diagnosed with hip dysplasia the possible and best treatment will depend on the degree of displasia, which parts of the hip are most affected and how much pain and restriction of activity your dog is experiencing along with the age of your dog.

In other words, there is no simple answer to this, and you will need to work closely with your veterinarian to decide on the options that will work best for your dog and that you feel the most comfortable with.

It is important to understand that there is NO CURE for hip dyplasia, but there are management options.


Surgical intervention will only be beneficial in some situations, and there are several procedures that can be used:

Triple pelvic osteotomy

This surgery is used to preserve the hip joint, elimiate laxity and prevent progression of arthritis. It is most commonly performed on younger dogs with no or very minimal arthritis as a method of prevention of deterioration by stabilising the hip joint.

Femoral Head/Neck Ostectomy

This surgical procedure removes the femoral head and neck and is used to alleviate pain. Typically it is used purely when pain cannot be controlled any other way and is more commonly performed on the smaller breeds of dogs. Obviously after this surgery the hip joint no longer works the way it should as healing causes fibrous scar tissue to form creating a 'false joint'. It is important to keep the dogs body weight down after this surgery and reduce activity - eg no jumping from heights etc.

Total hip replacement

This procedure is used for dogs with established degeneration in the hips, and has been performed in dogs for well over 20 years successfully. The joint is replaced with an artifical or prosthetic joint and when successful will return the hip to normal function. Usually this procedure is used in medium, large and giant dog breeds, but implants or prosthetics are also available for small sized dogs. It was usually only considered for older dogs, but the implants used today are reliable and long lasting and the surgery is performed on dogs of all ages.


The DAR here refers to the dorsal acetabular rim and the procedure involves a bone graft taken from other areas of the pelvis to build a longer rim on the acetabulum to increase the depth of the socket for the femoral head to fit into. It is generally only used in dogs whose dysplasia shows a shallow acetabulum.

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

As the word juvenile in the surgical procedure name suggests, this procedure is only performed on puppies, normally before 6 months of age. It is a preventative procedure of fusing the pubic symphysis - the cartliage that connects the pelvis together at the front.

Non surgical management techniques

Body weight management

No dog should be allowed to carry excess weight, let alone become obese, but a dog with any degree of dysplasia must be kept lean, and this is going to be more a matter of restricting their diet to high protein and lower fat (not non fat, they need some fat for their coat and health), rather than keeping weight down by exercise as the dysplastic dog just can't keep up the kind of exercise routine that would be needed.

Having said this, exercise is going to still be very important. You need to exercise your dog well to keep the best possible muscle tone around the hip area, to assist in preventing wear and tear. One of the best ways to do this if you dog is experiencing pain is swimming.

Natural remedies

There are a variety of natural remedies that are used for joint conditions. One of the widest in use for people and a large range of mammals is Glucosamine and chondrotin. Omega 3's are also effective in relieving joint pain.

Herbal remedies that can be tried include Dandelion and Nettle, Alfalfa, Licorice and Yucca, Gingko, Hawthorne, Rosemary, Cayenne and Ginger.

Dog bed

There are 2 ways a good dog bed can assist in the management of hip dysplasia - the obvious one is that the bed will be more comfortable than sleeping on a hard floor, which normally wouldn't bother a healthy dog in the least. The second benefit is that dog beds are raised from the floor, which means it is easier on the hip joint for your dog to lay down and get up again. Remember that a dysplastic dog is most likely to cause further injury to the joint when the joint is strained the most, and rising from floor level to standing is one of the highest level of strain that the joint will experience, especially when the dog has been sleeping for a prolonged period of time.


A dog experiencing long periods of pain or time when the pain spikes higher (cold or wet weather, after exercise) may benefit from anti-inflammatory medication. Discuss this with your veterinarian to choose the best solution.

You will need to work closely with your veterinarian to agree on a management regime that you can measure and alter as your dog ages and the effects of the dysplasia progress.

Massage for management of pain

These videos give a practical tutorial for giving simple massage for your dog by a veterinarian. They are short videos that concentrate on different areas. Please do obtain advice from your own veterinarian on massage therapy and have your vet help you check that you are doing it correctly. A good rule of thumb is that the massage should NOT hurt your dog - either an area is too painful or you are using too much pressure or speed on an area.

Links to article sections for Canine Hip Dysplasia:

Introduction What is canine hip dysplasia?
Normal hips description and xray image of normal dog hips
Abnormal / dysplastic hips understand what it means to say hips are abnormal or dysplastic
Symptoms of dysplasia signs to watch for in your dog
Diagnosing dysplasia how canine hip dysplasia is diagnosed
Interventions and management what are the treatment options for canine hip dysplasia?
Genetics of dysplasia is canine hip dysplasia inherited or caused by environment?
Breeding decisions how do I know if I should breed my dogs?
The AVA/ANKC hip dysplasia scoring scheme an explanation of how this scoring scheme is used
PennHIP® method an explanation of the PennHIP radiographic method

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