Vets in Hexham

Hip Dysplasia

What is hip dysplasia?

The hips are ‘ball and socket’ joints, which normally fit together perfectly to enable easy movement. Hip dysplasia is when the hip joints don’t fit together properly and become unstable and this causes pain, swelling, stiffness and eventually arthritis.

Dogs with hip dysplasia usually begin showing symptoms while they are growing (at around 6 months of age). The condition is usually worse in medium – large breed dogs, fast growing dogs, overweight dogs and dogs who have been over-exercised when young.

illustration showing hip dysplasia in dogs


  • ‘Bunny hopping’ – running with both back legs moving together
  • Stiffness
  • Limping/lameness
  • Difficulty getting up and lying down
  • Less interest in walks
  • A wobbly or swaying walk
  • Difficulty jumping or going up or down stairs
  • Discomfort in hips
  • Skinny hips
  • Some dogs, with a mild form of the condition, won’t show signs until they are much older and have developed arthritis of the hips.
xrays showing healthy hip vs hip with dysplasia


Treatment can vary but as a first step, we would likely advise some or all of the treatments below. If your dog responds well, then hopefully we can continue with the at home care to avoid surgery.

  • Keep your dog’s weight in check to ensure no extra strain is put on their joints.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) and/or other pain relief will be prescribed by your vet.
  • Your dog may need periods of rest if their hip dysplasia is causing pain and discomfort.
  • Regular, short lead walks are ideal.
  • It’s important to ensure your dog doesn’t over-exercise. Avoid jumping, skidding, chasing, racing around or exercising for long-periods of time.


If your dog has severe hip dysplasia that doesn’t respond to daily management, we may suggest surgery.

Ongoing care

Hip dysplasia often continues throughout a dog’s life, meaning treatment may be ongoing. Dog’s may benefit from additional treatments and if we think it would be beneficial, then your vet will arrange a referral for your pet. These services may include:

  • Physiotherapy can help build up muscle and take pressure off your dog’s hips.
  • Hydrotherapy is a great way to exercise your dog without putting strain on their joints.
  • Joint supplements might slow down the development of arthritis.


  • Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that causes one or both hip joints to develop abnormally while a puppy is growing.
  • Hip dysplasia causes pain, swelling and eventually arthritis.
  • Most dogs inherit hip dysplasia from one of their parents and symptoms usually start while they are growing.
  • Hip dysplasia most commonly affects medium – large breed pedigree dogs.
  • Treating hip dysplasia involves careful exercise, weight control and pain relief. Severely affected dogs may also require surgery.
  • Schemes are in place to check for hip dysplasia before mating two dogs. This reduces the number of puppies born with this painful condition.

When to contact Orchard House Vets

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above then we would recommend a visit to see us. Our Veterinary practices in Hexham, Stocksfield and Bellingham will be able to help you. Ultimately, you know your dog best and see your dog daily, so you know when and if they are acting slightly differently. Even if your dog is not showing the symptoms above and you are worried about hip dysplasia then do book an appointment to see a vet who will be able to discuss the condition and help you.


We recommend hip scores and screening for hip dysplasia and other inherited diseases before breeding your dog. Please contact us for more information.