How can I keep my big dog hips healthy? What to Know

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How can I keep my big dog hips healthy?

Feed your dog a healthy diet

Proper nutrition is vital to keeping your pet healthy. Obesity can greatly impact your dog’s joint health. And you can greatly reduce the stress on a dog’s hips with regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Pick a well-balanced dog food that is recommended for your dog’s breed and weight. Avoid over feeding, table scraps and other fatty foods.

Exercise is essential to keeping your dog healthy. Dog’s genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia or arthritis should stay active.

Be aware that your dog getting too much exercise can be just as dangerous as too little. Low impact exercises, such as swimming are an excellent way to promote healthy, strong hips. Avoid exercises or games that include jerky movements or jumping and restrict high impact exercising, especially on hard surfaces like pavement that put additional stress on the body.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

You can prevent hip dysplasia in dogs by ensuring the skeletal system grows properly, choosing a breeder who caters to good hip health of the dogs they have, giving diet appropriate for the dog, avoiding exercising young and at-risk dogs, providing essential nutrient supplements, avoiding neutering at-risk puppies, and testing early for hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a disease whereby the hip joint develops a malformation that makes it difficult and painful to move about.

Normally, the hip joint’s ball and socket should fit like a glove. However, with canine hip dysplasia, the ball and the socket grow at unequal rates – in most cases, the socket grows slower.

As a result of the unequal growth rates, the ball may become too big to fit in a socket that’s not deep enough, and vice versa – the socket becomes deep but the ball is small.

Either way, the hip joint is loose.

Due to the loose hip joint, the leg tends to move about in that part, resulting in wear and tear and is painful for dogs. By the way, this wear and tear also cause degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Now, the body may attempt to repair some of this unevenness by forming a hard bony material within the joint to ‘fix’ the unevenness, but that material does not actually fix the deformity and might actually cause more unevenness.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include the following:

  • The dog shows an abnormal gait that involves a limited range of motions.
  • The distance between the width increases.
  • The dog is reluctant to rise after lying or sitting down.
  • The dog does not want to go up a flight of stairs.
  • A wobbly walk, often coupled with a ‘click’ sound. This sound usually occurs since the joint grates as the dog moves about.
  • Thigh muscle mass decreases as the shoulder muscles increase in an attempt to compensate for the inefficiency of the hind legs.
  • The dog shows that he/she is feeling pain when walking.
  • Weakness of the hind legs and especially the hips – this may be seen from the swaying movement when standing or walking.
  • Hip dysplasia is caused by any number of factors. The biggest factor is genetics. A dog carrying the gene may pass it on to his/her little one, making that puppy more at risk of developing hip dysplasia within 1-2 years of life.

    Larger-sized breeds of dogs also tend to develop hip dysplasia more often than smaller-sized ones. has a full list of these breeds and they include Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Rottweilers, American Staffordshire terriers, bulldogs, and mastiffs.

    Some diets may lead to obesity which is itself a contributing factor towards hip dysplasia.

    Too much weight puts pressure on the hip joint and will likely result in more friction for the ball of the femur. This tends to worsen the condition of the hip joint.

    This also includes lifestyle patterns. Excessive movements may trigger or worsen hip dysplasia. For example, if the puppy is living in a place where it is forced to be moving about too much or scaling up a flight of stairs. Activities like Frisbee and agility, should be avoided in dog’s with bad hips. Jumping and other high impact exercise is not recommended for dogs with hip dysplasia.

    Regular exercise is incredibly important and plays a critical part in the treatment regimen applied for canine hip dysplasia. All exercise should be structured and carefully planned out by a licensed vet – not over-exercised without that expert guidance. Work with your pet professional to determine the right way to exercise your dog and keep their hips healthy.

    Professional guidance ensures that physical therapy is targeted to solve or ease the problem rather than expand the deformity.

    An injury to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons of the hip joint may cause misalignment and degeneration of the joint’s ball and socket. This is because those injuries damage the support structures of the hip joint.

    Thankfully, this cause is the most preventable. With several cautionary measures that avoid injury to the dog, you can significantly reduce the chances of your furry pal developing CHD.

    This prevention involves avoiding activities and environments where the dog may suffer injuries.

    First off, it’s important to keep in mind that certain cases of hip dysplasia are not preventable. Nonetheless, several measures can be used to keep hip dysplasia at bay, especially for the at-risk dog breeds:

    Hip Problems in Dogs. Release This Muscle

    I grew up with two dogs of very different breeds and saw both through to old age. Today, I live with Dewey, a black lab, pit bull pushing nine years. Even as a middle-aged guy, Dewey is remarkably high-energy and playful, but the signs of aging are apparent nonetheless.

    I want to prolong the best years of Dewey’s life, as most dog parents want to do for their dogs. One of the biggest challenges a dog faces in old age is joint stiffness and loss of mobility, something I witnessed with my childhood dogs in their later years. Combining the wisdom gained raising my childhood dogs, the expertise of veterinary professionals, and the modern conventions and resources available to me today, here are the ways I keep my dog’s joints healthy and young.