Fetch pays back up to 90% of unexpected vet bills

Get a free quote

Help your dog live a healthier, longer life.

Introducing the Fetch Health Forecast.

Get your dog's free forecast

Fetch by The Dodo Pet Insurance Logo
A photo of a brown dog laying on their stomach with their hips extended

Health & Wellness

Hip dysplasia in dogs: what it is and how to treat it

Some breeds are prone to the condition

It's important for dogs to maintain healthy hips so that they can continue zoomie-ing, playing fetch and taking on even the most basic tasks, like climbing the stairs. When you notice your dog  limping or struggling to sand, it's time to contact your vet. These are signs that they could have a condition called hip dysplasia. Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian Dr. Aliya McCullough explains everything pet parents need to know about hip dysplasia in dogs and how it's commonly treated.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a condition where one or both of the hip joints become loose. It occurs when the pelvis and femur bones (that make up the ball and socket joint) develop an abnormal shape and don’t adequately fit together. As pups move over time, the bones rub together and can create painful cartilage damage, leading to arthritis (otherwise known as a degenerative joint disease).

Trauma is a leading cause of hip dysplasia in dogs. Genetics can also play a role in this condition — especially in Labrador Retrievers. If you have a Lab, ask your veterinarian about a genetic test to determine if they experiencing hip dysplasia.

Although they're often confused for one another, hip dysplasia and dislocated hips are two different conditions dogs can face. Dislocated hips often only affect one side of dog's hips, while hip dysplasia commonly affects both hips. Talk to your veterinarian to confirm which (if any) condition your dog is experiencing.

Dog breeds prone to hip dysplasia

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to hip dysplasia because of genetics. These breeds include:

  • American Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Old English Bulldogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Mastiffs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Pugs
  • Rottweilers
  • St. Bernards

Signs of hip dysplasia in dogs

Dogs can start showing signs of hip dysplasia as young as 5 to 8 months old. Contact your vet or veterinary orthopedic surgeon if your dog starts showing the following hip dysplasia symptoms:

  • Limping
  • Difficulty standing up or jumping
  • Bunny hopping or swaying gait
  • Loss of muscle mass in hind limbs

If you decided your dog should see a vet, they may be able to diagnose them through an exam or with X-rays.

Treatment options for dogs with hip dysplasia

Most dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia have a good prognosis and need little-to-no medical intervention. However, your veterinarian may recommend a range of treatment options, like:

  • Pain medication 
  • Specific joint supplements for hip dysplasia in dogs, like Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Fatty acids
  • Physical therapy
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Weight reduction
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery (In general, dog hip dysplasia surgery costs typically range from $2,000 to over $5,000.)

How to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs

Unfortunately, it’s challenging to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs. A balanced and age-appropriate diet may help lessen the risk of hip dysplasia by maintaining their overall health and weight, but make sure to talk to your veterinarian before changing your dog’s eating habits. 

A dog’s healthy hips mean more walks and jumping for treats, so it's important we keep our pets feeling good. If your dog starts to show signs of hip dysplasia, including limping or difficulty standing, our tips will help you to know what comes next.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance'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.

Save up to 90% on unexpected vet bills

Use any veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada

Rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot

The most comprehensive pet insurance

Photo by Ruby Shmank on Unsplash

Sign up for our newsletter

Get a free quote