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Dog at the beach with hip dysplasia

Pet Insurance 101

Will Fetch Pet Insurance cover hip dysplasia in cats and dogs?

Hip dysplasia in cats and dogs is a hereditary condition in which one or both hip joints becomes too loose, causing discomfort for your pet. If your pet experiences hip dysplasia, the good news is that your vet can provide treatments to help. The not-so-great news, however, is that treating this condition can be expensive. Hip dysplasia-related costs can include hip surgery, total hip replacement and more. According to Fetch Pet Insurance claims data, the pet parents paid an average of $375.01 hip-dysplasia-related costs… and the largest claim totaling $9,548.43. Let's look at why this condition is so costly and how pet insurance that covers hip dysplasia, like Fetch, can help both you and your pet live your best lives.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in cats and dogs is a hereditary condition (passed down genetically by a cat or dog’s parents) in which one or both hip joints develop laxity or looseness. This occurs because the pelvis and femur bones that comprise the ball and socket joint develop an abnormal shape and do not fit snugly together. With movement over time, these bones rub together, creating cartilage damage, and eventually leading to pain and arthritis (degenerative joint disease). Just as your pet can experience discomfort from this condition, it can be uncomfortable to see your pet experiencing it. You may be wondering how long can a dog live with hip dysplasia — and it’s all good news! With proper care and treatment, your pet will live a long and happy life. 

Is hip dysplasia genetic? Yes! And because hip dysplasia is genetic, it affects certain cat and dog breeds more than others and occurs less frequently in cats and small dogs than it does in large dog breeds. Boxer hip dysplasia and English Bulldog hip dysplasia are common. There are many factors that contribute to the development of hip dysplasia, including genetics, nutrition, excessive growth rate, exercise and hormones.

Dog breeds at risk for hip dysplasia:

Cat breeds at risk for hip dysplasia:

Symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in cats and dogs can become noticeable at any stage. Affected dogs may exhibit signs of pain such as lameness or limping, difficulty rising out of bed and jumping, a swaying gait and even loss of muscle mass in the hind legs. Cats typically don’t show obvious signs of hip dysplasia, but may be less active, have difficulty posturing in the litter box or show a change in behavior, such as hiding.

Diagnosis of hip dysplasia is based on their symptoms, your vet’s findings during physical exams and X-rays.


Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on your dog or cat’s age, weight and severity of the condition. Your vet may recommend any of the following:

  • Prescription medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and glucocorticoids (steroids)
  • Supplements such as chondroprotective agents to help joint health and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Holistic and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture
  • Weight loss, if your pet is overweight
  • Physical therapy and laser therapy
  • Surgery


Since hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition, the only real way to prevent it is by preventing dog and cat breeds with hip dysplasia histories from mating, and therefore passing the condition down. Hip dysplasia is genetic. Be sure to spay and neuter dogs and cats that fit this bill, so they cannot pass those genes on to the next generation. If possible, make sure the parents of your new puppy or kitten have normal or excellent ratings by the Penn-Hip system, a method that evaluates the quality of hips in young dogs. 

Will Fetch cover hip dysplasia?

Yes! Fetch Pet Insurance is comprehensive pet insurance that covers hip dysplasia, no matter how old your pet is, as long as it isn’t a pre-existing condition. That means if your pet had hip dysplasia or was showing signs of it prior to the start of your pet insurance policy (or during the waiting period), the condition won’t be covered.

Fetch offers comprehensive coverage that can help with hip dysplasia costs after you enroll and the waiting period has passed, so it’s important to protect your pet as early as possible and ensure your insurance can help cover the cost of hip dysplasia surgery for dogs and cats, including the total cost of a hip replacement for a dog or a cat. A total hip replacement for a dog can cost thousands of dollars. When you have pet insurance, you’ll have peace of mind instead of worrying “how much is hip replacement for a dog”. If your pet is a breed that has a higher risk of developing hip dysplasia, find a pet insurance agent (like Fetch) that not only covers hereditary conditions with no age restrictions but also covers the cost of the entire sick visit.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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