Hip Dysplasia


Dogs can’t tell their owners when something hurts. In fact, they can be experts at hiding pain —even when the cause of that pain is something like canine hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a very common cause of hind limb lameness. Among veterinarians and specialists, management of the condition is varied and the treatment options presented to pet owners may range from conservative to aggressive.

Here at Sheehy Animal Hospital —Livonia's premier veterinary hospital treating large, small and exotic animals — we work through a diagnosis of hip dysplasia by looking at symptoms, following pain management guidelines, and educating owners on measures they can take to help their pets remain healthy and happy through a hip dysplasia diagnosis.

Quite simply, canine hip dysplasia (or CHD) is a condition that results in instability or laxity (loose fit) of the hip joint.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hearing the words "hip dysplasia" can strike fear into many dog owners, but there's a lot about the condition that's misunderstood. Quite simply, canine hip dysplasia (or CHD) is a condition that results in instability or laxity (loose fit) of the hip joint. Symptoms of hip pain and limb dysfunction begin to appear as the dog grows, due to progressive joint changes.

Our veterinarian will show pet owners a model of a hip joint, including the ball and socket, to demonstrate how continued abnormal movement of the femoral head (the ball) deforms the socket. Long term, there is a loss of cartilage, development of scar tissue, and the formation of bone spurs.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Genetics play a role in hip dysplasia, as the disease is hereditary and common in large and giant breed dogs such as the Saint Bernard, Great Dane, German Shepherd, and more.  Other factors such as excessive growth rate and improper diet can complicate the development of hip dysplasia. 

Too much or too little exercise, leading to excessive wear and tear or obesity, is also a problem. Extra weight puts extra stress on a dog’s joints, which can exacerbate or even cause hip dysplasia.

Diagnosing and Treating Hip Dysplasia

Our veterinarian will perform a full physical exam and manipulate the hind legs to test the looseness of the joint. X-rays will also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and help determine the best course of treatment going forward. Our veterinarian may recommend a nonsurgical approach to care or may talk pet owners through various surgical options such as:

    • Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
    • Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
    • Total hip replacement (THR)

Schedule an Appointment Today!

It is important to remember that dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia can still lead normal lives with proper treatment. If you think that your dog has hip dysplasia, call Sheehy Animal Hospital -- your Livonia Animal Hospital -- today at 248-206-3030.

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  • "I love this veterinary clinic. Dr. Sheehy and staff are all friendly and seem to take pride in their jobs. I enjoy taking my three rats there and would recommend them to everyone I know."
    Cheyenne H / Livonia, MI

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