Common Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

hip dysplasiaThere may not be to more terrifying words in the English language than these two for the owners of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, all kinds of Doodles – including Labradoodles – and numerous service dogs that exhibit incredible levels of intelligence, compassion, and personality.

One of the most insidious diseases and health conditions that rob a dog of its health, its well-being, and its ability to move with the kind of freedom and excitement that they enjoy before they are diagnosed with this condition, hip dysplasia is painful and difficult to overcome without proper medical attention at the right time.

If you are worried about the dog health of your furry family member or service dog and want to make sure that they aren’t dealing with hip dysplasia read more below. You’ll want to ensure that you will give your service dog every opportunity to overcome this disease and lead the kind of happy and healthy lifestyle they deserve.


What exactly is hip dysplasia, anyway?

A very specific condition that negatively impacts large and giant breeds of dogs. This can include anything from Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, and many other large breeds. Though it can be present in smaller breeds of dogs, it is much rarer. Hip dysplasia occurs when the joint between the hip ball and socket doesn’t develop the way that it should.

Instead of providing a free range of motion the way that the animals body was designed to operate, the hip joint begins to rub, grind, and chew into the bone and cartilage in the surrounding area. This is incredibly painful for any dog diagnosed with this condition, and on top of that the hip joint deteriorates much faster than it would have otherwise. This can rob your dog of its mobility well before old age.

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What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?

While there are a variety of different factors that play a role in hip dysplasia that negatively impacts dog health. Most medical researchers in this field believe that the genetics of specific breeds of dog have the biggest role to play. Large and giant breeds of dogs – Great Danes, St. Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labradoodles, and more – are unfortunately afflicted with this kind of condition more so than most other breeds of dog.

They seem to have a genetic predisposition to this condition that can be negatively amplified by variety of different other factors, including excessive growth, weight gain, too much exercise – and in some cases, not enough exercise – as well as the quality of the nutrition that a dog gets on a day to day basis.


What can be done to fight back against hip dysplasia?

Nutrition is such an important part to get right when you’re talking about the breeds that we highlighted above, especially when they are puppies. This is when they are developing, and this is when you really want to nail nutrition right out of the park so that you can prevent as much of the hip dysplasia as humanly possible.

The food that you provide puppies will go a long way towards preventing excessive growth while at the same time supporting the normal development of all the major skeletal and bodily systems. You’ll be able to avoid pressure placed upon the skeleton that can lead to disorders like hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, as well as other joint conditions. You’ll also be able to slow down the rate of growth in these large and very large dogs to avoid putting way too much strain on their bodies before they are ever able to handle it.

Small dog breed owners should also pay close attention to these tips and tricks as far as dog health is concerned, as small dogs can also develop hip dysplasia, though instances of this are a lot less common.

Related: Why You Should Not Shave Your Golden or Labrador Retriever



While some dogs, including some service dogs, are going to show signs and symptoms of this condition at an age as young as four months or so, the overall majority of dogs that have this condition are going to begin to present symptoms of as they get older – especially when they begin to approach the senior age of dogs.

Dysplasia is often closely related to osteoarthritis that begins to develop in dogs around age 7 or 8, and sometimes even younger than that. This is when you are going to start seeing more obvious signs and symptoms. Depending upon how severe the situation is, the symptoms of this condition can be relatively mild or completely and totally obvious.


Symptoms of hip dysplasia may include:

  • Significantly decreased activity levels
  • Significantly decreased range of motion in their legs
  • A difficulty or reluctance to climbing stairs, running, or jumping
  • Lameness towards the back end of their body
  • A noticeable “looseness” in the hip joint
  • A narrow stance or a swaying gait
  • Significant loss of muscle mass in the fine
  • Pain, stiffness, or general discomfort


If your dog is presenting any of the symptoms you’ll want to make sure that you bring them to a proper veterinarian ASAP. Sometimes these symptoms aren’t going to relate to hip dysplasia in particular, but almost all of the symptoms are signs that something could be wrong with your dog’s health.

Treatment protocols do exist to help dogs living with hip dysplasia lead happier and healthier lifestyles, though they have varying degrees of success that are determined largely by how quickly you are able to jump in front of this condition. Have your dog regularly tested for this condition and you may be able to avoid some serious issues and hard decisions later down the line.


If you ever have any questions or concerns about your service dog’s health, feel free to reach out to us at (540) 543-2307 or email us at any time.

Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, or SDWR, is a fully incorporated 501 (c) (3) organization providing service dogs to those living with invisible disabilities like Autism, Diabetes, PTSD, and Seizure Disorders.

Service Dogs by SDWR

Service Dogs By SDWR is committed to changing the lives of those with invisible disabilities such as Autism, Diabetes, PTSD, and Seizure Disorders. “Until there’s a cure… There’s a dog!”

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