Useful Tips to Prevent and Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs


Hip dysplasia in dogs is among the common health problems that is affecting about 15% of the canine population in the U.S. and Canada as of 2017.  The disease is prevalent among large breed dogs but can also affect certain medium and small breeds like the Shih Tzu.

Hip Dysplasia is a painful condition that can cause limping, lameness, soreness and even osteoarthritis thereby reducing the quality of life for your dog and affecting his mobility.

Before we move on to discussing the tips for either preventing or treating the disease, let’s first have a look at what hip dysplasia is.

Sleeping Shih Tzu laying on the pavement

What is Hip Dysplasia?

The hip joint comprises a ball and socket where the ball rotates freely in the socket.

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease which leads to the abnormal growth of the hip joint due to which the ball of the femur can’t fit properly in the socket of the hip making it difficult for the pup to walk around.

Prevention of Hip Dysplasia

It is significant to understand the fact that the disease is primarily inherited.  However, research shows that specific environmental factors can predispose the dog to develop hip dysplasia.  Therefore it is crucial to control these contributing causes to prevent your pup from the painful condition.

Here are a few essential tips that dog-parents can follow:

Nutrition and Diet

Optimal nutrition plays a fundamental role in preventing the onset of hip dysplasia.

You should keep a tab on your pup’s caloric intake (this is even more important for small-breeds like the Shih-Tzu) and ensure that you feed him a high-quality balanced diet. 

But a quality diet can only prove beneficial when given in appropriate amounts since overfeeding can lead to obesity which can be dangerous.

If you aren’t sure of how much and how frequently to feed your pup then look at the back of the packet of dog food that you are feeding.  If you still aren’t sure, you may consult the vet to devise a feeding schedule.


Lack of physical exertion can put your dog at a higher risk of developing degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis in the hip and genetic anomalies.

Make sure you plan age-appropriate exercises for your puppy from an early age that keep him active and moving.

Of course, it is crucial to ensure that you don’t over-exercise the puppy as that can do more damage to the joints than good.  Gradually keep increasing the duration of physical exertion as your puppy grows by consulting with the veterinarian.

Prevent Injuries

Early age injuries in puppies that cause damage to the tendons, joints, and ligaments that provide support to the hip joint can lead to the degeneration of the hip joint structures.

Therefore it is crucial to keep your dog safe and minimize the chances of injury.  Use rugs and mats in the house to provide better traction to your pup. 

Prevent your dog from jumping off high surfaces as the continual impact on the joints while landing may result in injuries.

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

After discussing possible prevention methods let’s also have a look at a few effective habits that will make it easier to manage hip dysplasia in your pooch:

  • Engage your dog in low-impact exercises such as swimming as that will help strengthen the joints
  • Massages and other physical therapies as recommended by the vet can be beneficial for reducing pain and improving mobility
  • You will have to feed your pooch special dog food and prescription diets that will promote the healing of the cartilage
  • Use ramps, rugs and soft mattresses around the house to keep the dog comfortable
  • If your pooch requires surgery, then the veterinarian will inform you regarding the required procedure. It will help resolve mobility issues and can increase the quality of life for your dog.

One final tip.  To prevent hip dysplasia in your dog, ensure that the parents and grandparents of the Shih Tzu you are adopting are certified as not being carriers of the disease.  

Editors note:  We strongly believe that all pets need a forever home, especially ones that have health issues.  When adopting a pet, be sure you able to care for the pet properly before bringing them into your home.  

Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer.  She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs.  She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents.  She writes for the blog Here Pup

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