Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is caused by a combination of genetic, nutritional and environmental factors. It can be found in many animals and, rarely, humans, but is common in many dog breeds.
The hip joint is what’s called a ball and socket joint. In dogs with hip dysplasia often times the socket part (acetabulum) of the joint is very shallow or the ball part (femoral head) of the joint is misshaped leading to instability in the joint. This abnormal anatomical formation can be diagnosed only by X-rays. Although a large factor in the chances of your pet getting hip dysplasia is genetic and determined at birth we can decrease severity and in some cases avoid the condition all together by focusing on proper nutrition and controlled exercise from puppyhood.
In dogs, the problem almost always appears by the time the dog is 18 months old. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing the disease and minimizing the potential for long term chronic pain. If arthritis builds to an unmanageable state in the joint there are surgical options to help remedy the situation.