There are several things that you can do to try and prevent hip dysplasia in your dog, or any dog that you are considering adopting or bringing into your home, especially puppies. One of the things that you can do is make sure that your dog, or your puppy is coming from parents that have good hips. The way that they will know that they have good hips is if the hips have been certified by the Orthopedic Foundation of America.
The Orthopedic Foundation of America is a non-profit organization that grades hips of breeding animals, and if an animal has excellent rating on OFA certification then there is a much lower likelihood that any of the offspring of that animal will develop hip dysplasia. When you’re looking for puppies, or you’re talking to a breeder, and it’s a large breed dog, you want to ask them have the hips and elbows been certified to be excellent on OFA certification.
If there is no history or no testing you may want to look at a different breeder, because good breeders are interested in making sure that their lines of dogs do not have any disease, including hip dysplasia. Number one, that’s the best thing to do if you are looking at puppies. If you have a dog that is already grown, or rescued, or adopted from a shelter, and you don’t have that opportunity to talk to a breeder, well, there are some things you can do in young dogs to try and minimize the risk of hip dysplasia.
One is to make sure that you give your dog proper nutrition, and not too much nutrition, because one of the problems with puppies is when they get fed too much then they grow too fast, and that can exacerbate developmental joint problems like hip dysplasia. Make sure that you are feeding a complete and balanced diet, those formulated for large breed puppies. Not sure what that is? Talk to your veterinarian.
The second thing you can do is make sure to keep your puppy on an exercise regimen that does not include long pounding exercises. Puppies and dogs under one year of age are not good jogging partners, they just don’t have the developmental bone structure in place and all of that pounding on their open growth plates can cause them to have problems down the line. Until they’re done growing, and for some giant breeds of dogs that can take up to a year and a half, only do moderate to light exercise and let them self-regulate their exercise.
If you are at all worried about hip dysplasia in a young dog that you have, and you do have a breed that is more susceptible, such as Retrievers, Rottweilers, Labradors, those large breeds, you can have x-rays done to get the hips checked out and see if there is any hip dysplasia noted in the x-rays. If there is then you can have surgery done before the dog is done growing to minimize the onset of arthritis associated with hip dysplasia. It won’t necessarily prevent hip dysplasia but it will prevent or minimize the signs and symptoms associated with hip dysplasia, which is arthritis and the pain that goes with it.
Author: Dr. Sarah Wooten
A graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, Dr. Wooten has 16 years of experience in small animal general practice, and 9 years experience of writing and vlogging. You may have seen her speak at Fetch DVM360 conference, NAVC (or VMX), AAHA, AVMA, or WVC, or you may have seen her articles and videos on DVM360, Firstline, Vetted, Healthy Pet Magazine, The Bark Magazine, Vetstreet, Chewy. or PetMD.