Understanding Canine Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia Prevention And Treatment Options

The primary cause of hip dysplasia is genetic. However, other factors, such as husbandry and environmental factors, play their role as well.

Prevention starts with selective breeding.

Understanding Canine Hip Dysplasia: Hip Dysplasia Prevention And Treatment Options


Responsible breeders screen their dogs’ hips with either PennHIP or OFA x-rays before including them in their breeding population. Genetic testing is not available at this time.

Dogs without obviously dysplastic hips are the only individuals that should ever be selected for breeding. The PennHIP and OFA screening tests are not perfect. But they have gone a long way towards decreasing the incidence of hip dysplasia in some breeds.


Nutrition is a contributing factor to the development of hip dysplasia.

Rapid growth and excessive weight gain in puppies can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia.

A diet too high in protein, calcium, or calories (i.e., simply too much food) leads to unnaturally rapid growth, obesity, and/or bones and muscles growing at different rates, all of which can cause a number of joint issues, including hip dysplasia.

Be thoughtful of what and how much you feed your puppy.  Large breed dogs under the age of 18 months should stay on the slim side of normal.  Dogs fed to grow slowly will eventually reach their full size, it just takes them a little extra time to get there.


Does exercise play a role in the development of hip dysplasia?

This issue doesn’t seem to be entirely clear. It appears that exercise does not cause hip dysplasia to develop. However, if a dog already has bad hips (even if the problems are not yet visible on traditional x-rays), high impact or strenuous exercise can make things worse.

On the other hand, exercise to promote the strength of muscles, tendons, and ligaments and a healthy weight are still very important so this is one of those cases where balance is important.

Hip Dysplasia Prevention And Treatment Options

Early detection

Early detection means early treatment and better prognosis.

The sooner you find out whether your dog has hip dysplasia the better off your dog will be.

Ever since Jasmine was little, because of her breed, a thorough hip evaluation has been a part of every vet visit. Fortunately, Jasmine’s hips are healthy; they’re just about the only part of her body that is without an issue.

Treatment options

Some treatments are only available for puppies up to certain age, and arthritis, if not addressed, only gets worse with time.

Conservative management

Treatment options include the management of arthritis and inflammation that is caused by hip dysplasia and/or surgical intervention. Which treatments are best for your dog depends on an evaluation of the joints, your dog’s age, and general health.

Arthritis management includes weight control, physical therapy, acupuncture, joint supplements, omega-3 fatty acids, stem cell therapy and, while not at all my personal favorite, NSAIDs and other pain relievers.

Surgical options

Surgical options for treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) is a preventive surgery that can be performed on at-risk puppies before the age of 5 months. Altering the growth of the pubic bone results in rotation of the hip sockets to better hold on to the femoral heads.

Triple pelvic osteotomy

Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) can be performed on puppies between 8 and 18 months of age, without significant degenerative arthritis changes or a hip socket that is too flat. It is a similar idea to the JPS but involves surgically repositioning a part of the pelvis. The pelvis is cut in three places and rotated to better hold on to the femoral head.

Femoral Head/Neck Ostectomy

Femoral Head/Neck Ostectomy (FHO) is the removal of the femoral head in order to prevent bone rubbing on bone. The fibrous tissue will form a false joint connecting the two bones. This surgery is usually recommended only for smaller dogs.

Total Hip Replacement

Total Hip Replacement (THR) is quite self-explanatory. It is often the recommended surgical option for older dogs, individuals over 50 pounds or so, and dogs with advanced arthritis.

Dorsal acetabular rim arthroplasty

Dorsal acetabular rim arthroplasty (Darthroplasty) is rather new and actually sounds quite cool. Bone grafts from other sites are used to manufacture a deeper socket so the femoral head sits within the socket better. Long-term prognosis with this surgery is not known at this time, however.

Keep in mind that many dogs that undergo surgical treatment for hip dysplasia still do require some level of medical management for arthritis, just far less than they would have otherwise needed.


Whether you choose surgery, conventional medical options, alternative treatments, or some combination thereof, it is important that therapy is tailored to the individual condition and needs of your dog.

Does your dog have hip dysplasia? How did you treat it? Share your story.

Related articles:
Hip Dysplasia in Puppies: Top 10 Prevention and Management Recommendations
Physical Therapy for Hip Dysplasia: Tips and Techniques

Further reading:
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsHip dysplasiaJoint issues

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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