Hip dysplasia is a degenerative condition that, unfortunately, affects 16% of dogs in the U.S. and Canada, and that every pet parent wishes to avoid. Although there isn’t one foolproof guide to prevent hip dysplasia, there are definitely some effective things you can do to reduce your dog’s risk of developing this disease.
What is hip dysplasia in dogs
Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal disorder in dogs that consists of a malformed ball in the socket joint. When puppies grow, the head of the femur (the ball) and the socket in the pelvis need to grow at equal rates. When a dog suffers from hip dysplasia, this equal growth does not occur, and one ends up being disproportionate to the other.
This causes looseness in the joint. As a result, the dog’s leg moves around, which causes wear and tear that can be painful for them. This can also lead to degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.
Hip dysplasia is commonly known for affecting large dog breeds such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, but the truth is that it can affect dogs of any size.
How to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs
Prevention is better than finding a cure, that’s for sure. As mentioned before, there isn’t an infallible guide that will assure you your dog won’t develop hip dysplasia, but there are some things you can put in practice that will definitely delay its appearance and lessen its progression.
1. Healthy diet and weight
Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is one of the key factors of hip dysplasia prevention. This will prevent obesity, which is a major contributor to this degenerative condition. An ideal body weight will provide the hip joints enough time to grow without having to carry excessive weight.
In order to find out which is your dog’s optimum weight, you should consult it with your vet, or take this quick test to find if your dog is overweight.
2. Joint supplements for dogs
There are three key ingredients that help maintain and promote healthy joints and mobility: glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. Some dog foods already contain a certain amount of these ingredients, but this isn’t always the case. And even if it is, supplementation is absolutely necessary to boost their effect.
There are many joint supplements for dogs in the market, so we have made a guide with pros and cons to help you find the best one. Remember to always give your dog a supplement that has these three ingredients: glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.
It’s also essential to choose the right food for your dog, consider reading “All about dog food: what are you really feeding your dog?” to find the ingredients to avoid in dog food and the ingredients to look for.
3. Multivitamin supplements
Multivitamin supplements for dogs are known for providing multiple benefits, joint support being one of them. When looking for the best supplement, make sure to look for these ingredients that have a direct impact on joint health, such as Omega-3 and Vitamin C.
Read this guide about the best multivitamin for dogs in 2022.
4. Exercise properly
Although puppies seem to be an endless source of energy and want to be running and playing 24/7, pet parents should be very careful to not over-exercise their dogs.
Playing fetch, long walks around the neighborhood, running on the beach and playing with friends in the park are activities our dogs absolutely adore, but they need to be done in moderation. Two-to-four hours of exercise a day are more than enough for any dog. Over-exercising them can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia.
What is more, signing up dogs in competitions and sports can also result in accidents that develop into hip dysplasia. So it’s imperative to be extremely conscious and careful about this.
5. Early test
If your dog develops hip dysplasia due to genetic reasons, detecting it early is one of the best things you could do. In order to accomplish this, it’s necessary to take your dog to the vet for regular physical exams. Early radiography tests will let you know if your pup has started to develop this condition.
This is extremely important for breeds that are prone to developing hip dysplasia, such as German Shepherd, Golden and Labrador Retriever, Saint Bernarnd and Great Dane.