Hip Dysplasia


What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal development of the hip joints in puppies and kittens resulting in a shallow socket and poor fit of the joint ball. This causes wear and tear that leads to painful arthritis.

The condition is most common in large breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, but smaller breeds such as Cocker Spaniels and Shetland Sheepdogs as well as cats can also be affected.


What causes hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is primarily a genetic ailment, but the mode of inheritance is complex. The condition may skip generations, so apparently normal dogs can still breed offspring with hip dysplasia.

The development of hip dysplasia is also influenced by external factors such as nutrition, weight and activity level.


What signs will my pet display if it has hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia causes arthritis in the hips resulting in joint pain. Affected dogs and cats do not usually cry or whine. Instead, they express their pain with reduced activity, limping, difficulty rising, lying down or climbing stairs.

Young dogs and cats with severe hip dysplasia may show these behaviours at 6 to 18 months of age. Many pets with mild to moderate hip dysplasia only show similar signs of joint pain when they are older as the joints wear down.


How can I check my pet for hip dysplasia?

For decades, the OFA or BVA method has been used to evaluate dogs for hip dysplasia. This involves taking an extended hip x-ray to assess the general appearance of the joint and look for signs of arthritis. The hips are then graded subjectively as having excellent, good, fair or poor conformation.

In 1993, Dr Gail Smith, from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, developed the PennHIP method as an objective tool for measuring passive hip laxity. Over years of studies and research, the PennHIP method has proven to be the most accurate predictor of hip dysplasia.


Click here to find out more about PennHIP.