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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

You know that feeling when you take your dog for a walk, your pup starts to slow down a bit, and his gait is a little off?

The usual culprit is your dog’s hips.

Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s precious, necessary, and sensitive hips:

They’re EXPENSIVE to treat if something goes wrong.

Not to mention the pain and suffering your poor canine best friend has to go through.

So that’s some of the bad news.

The good news?

It’s possible to treat hip dysplasia early and possibly even help prevent it. And pet insurance can help you achieve both of those goals.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

What is Hip Dysplasia?

vet looking at xray of dog hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when the “ball and socket” hip joint doesn’t function properly. The leg bone and hip don’t fit together correctly as in a dog with healthy hips.

A healthy dog hip has a soft cushion of cartilage lining the hip joint where the leg bone rests.

The head of the leg bone forms with the part of the socket that it is held in place by a strong ligament joint.

Healthy hips joints are lubricated, and movement is not painful. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket don’t fit as they should.

Typically, these dogs are born with normal-looking hips, but over time, the bone pops out of place and causes several issues.

The hip joint isn’t as deep as healthy dogs, so the bone easily comes out of its socket. Also, the ligaments aren’t as strong, making it more difficult to keep the bones in place.

Over time, this rubbing of bones wears down the cartilage cushion and becomes very painful for dogs.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a hereditary condition that gets worse as a dog ages.

It is one of the most prevalent health conditions in dogs, likely due to poor breeding standards that don’t remove dogs with hip dysplasia from the breeding pool.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

If possible, it’s good to be aware of the history of hip dysplasia that occurred in your dog’s parents and breeding line.

Whether or not you have that information, watch out for these crucial physical symptoms of hip dysplasia:

  • Pain or discomfort when exercising
  • Reluctance to engage in physical activity
  • Favoring the legs or hips when active, sitting, or lying down
  • Lameness
  • Back legs get very stiff during activity
  • Running that looks like hopping
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Muscle loss in hind legs
  • Decreased interest in activities your dog used to enjoy

Dogs Most Likely to Suffer From Hip Dysplasia

Some dogs are more genetically disposed to hip dysplasia.

Large breed dogs put more stress on their hips and are more likely to suffer from the condition.

The breeds most prone to hip dysplasia include:

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia

Surgery is the most common treatment option for hip dysplasia, especially for more severe cases of the disorder.

Depending on your dog’s age, there are a few surgical options:

JPS – Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

This surgery is performed on puppies with hip dysplasia that are under five months old.

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis changes the angle of the hips in order and enables the bones located in the pelvis to develop correctly.

TP0 – Triple Pelvic Osteotomy

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy is performed in puppies under ten months old with hip dysplasia and is more invasive the Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis.

In a TPO procedure, an orthopedic surgeon realigns the femur to the hip socket and does this by breaking the pelvis.

TPO is most successful in younger dogs because it can restore hip function fully. However, it can be a painful surgery and expensive.

Femoral Head and Neck Excision Surgery

This surgery is recommended for older, lighter dogs.

The femoral head and Neck Excision does not restore full function of the hips, but it does dramatically reduce pain due to hip dysplasia.

The top (or head) of the pup’s leg bone is removed and replaced with a more flexible joint for a better fit with the hip.

Total Hip Replacement Surgery

Total Hip Replacement is a costly surgery and is also the most intrusive procedure to treat canine hip dysplasia.

However, it has the benefit of restoring the hip completely, even in dogs with severe degradation of their hip joint.

As in humans, a total hip replacement in dogs involves the complete removal of the hip joint and puts an artificial join in its place.

The recovery is extensive, but dogs with this kind of hip surgery can enjoy activity pain-free.

Are There Any Alternative Treatments for Dog Hip Dysplasia?

For less severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery may not be necessary. Additionally, if pet owners cannot afford surgery, or if they do not have pet health insurance to cover the cost of surgery, surgical alternatives may include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss and weight management
  • Nutritional supplements

The Cost to Treat Hip Dysplasia

The treatment for hip dysplasia can be costly and cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

The costs not only include the surgery that is needed but also the care post-surgery.

There is the additional physiotherapy, vet visits as well as prescription medication necessary.

The cost can range anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 and usually is contingent on other additional factors such as the severity of the condition and the city where you live.

Will Pet Insurance Cover Hip Dysplasia?

Yes, hip dysplasia is covered as long as the condition is not considered pre-existing.

If it occurs in one hip, then, unfortunately, the other one will not be covered.

Pet insurance is excellent for those breeds that are genetically predisposed to hip conditions that could occur as the breed matures.

With plans like Healthy Paws, you can save up to 90% on the actual surgery as well as the rehab that might be needed post-surgery.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

Other Things to Know About Hip Dysplasia

  • Hip dysplasia can occur in more than 50 percent of larger breed dogs.
  • Genetic selection by breeders can reduce Hip Dysplasia risk by up to 2/3.
  • Over 72% of English Bulldogs have been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia.
  • More than 66 percent of pugs were diagnosed with hip dysplasia from 1974 through the end of 2010.
  • While the average cost of hip replacement surgery weighs in at $5,000, the price can be substantially higher depending on your dog’s breed and where you live.

Final Thoughts on Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a very common condition in big dogs and even older ones. Because it is so expensive to treat, pet insurance is a great way to help offset some of those costs.

The last thing you want is for your dog to be in pain. Or that you are in the position where you can’t pay for the treatment and relief your dog needs.

The best thing you can do for a big dog or any dog breed that is predisposed to hip dysplasia is to sign up for pet insurance when he or she is a puppy and before the condition might occur.

If you are looking for a pet insurance company that covers hip dysplasia, our top 10 pet insurance companies is a great place to start!

Other articles you may find helpful: 

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ’s, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


We get it, your dog is like your child and when your puppy or dog has health problems it is scary. Luckily there is pet insurance companies that will help you pay for any veterinarian care they made need. Checkout the best puppy and dog pet insurance companies and learn about common puppy health issues and ailments in older pets


Common Health Problems:

Acral Lick Granuloma in Dogs

Alopecia in Dogs

Antifreeze Toxicity in Dogs

Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Arthritis In Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Cataracts In Dogs

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Collie Eye Anomaly In Dogs

Constipation in Dogs

Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs

Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Myelopathy | Spinal Cord Disease In Dogs

Dementia in Dogs | Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Demodicosis In Dogs

Dental Problems in Dogs

Diabetes In Dogs

Dog Comedones (Schnauzer Bumps)

Dog Diarrhea: What Can You Do To Help?

Dog Ear Infections

Dystocia in Dogs

Ectropion in Dogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Entropion In Dogs

Eye Problems in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallstones in Dogs

Gastroenteritis In Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Heart Murmurs In Dogs | How To Identify Them

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs

Hypothyroidism In Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Dogs

Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Renal Failure in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs

The Dog Flu – Symptoms & Treatment for Canine Influenza

Dog Biting Nails


  1. Reply
    Erin Floyd Smith 10/27/2016 at 7:20 am

    When we adopt these sweethearts, we tend to forget that things like Hip Dysplasia are a potential problem. Health problems are just as likely in animals as they are in people. It’s good to know there are health insurance plans for pets to combat the cost of these problems. My grandmother had a pug and she definitely had a lot of expensive health problems.

    • Reply
      Jazz Wilson 10/30/2016 at 11:20 pm

      Over the years my family has had several pugs, all long lived with no problems. But apparently Hip Dysplasia is very common in Pugs and unfortunately as my last Pug (Pudgy) aged, she started having hip problems. The first thing I noticed was her reluctance to go on walks, then I started seeing the problems she was having. It is very distressing for the dogs and their owners.

  2. Reply
    Dennis 10/29/2016 at 2:52 pm

    I’m glad I found this page! My friend is currently having some trouble with her Bernese mountain dog and we think it’s probably hip dysplasia. My friend hasn’t been to the vet yet, but she’s definitely worried about the cost. This is going to sound really embarrassing, but I had no idea there was such a thing as dog insurance until now.

    • Reply
      Jazz Wilson 10/30/2016 at 11:23 pm

      Too few people know about pet insurance. I would never get a new puppy or kitten without it because it is simply too heart breaking not being able to afford treatments for easily remedied problems. I have told at least five of my friends about pet insurance and will continue to spread the word.

  3. Reply
    Mohammad 11/22/2016 at 7:41 pm

    This is really awesome. i really like it a lot. some of topic i really like mostly . b the way this is really awesome.

  4. Reply
    Al Amin 11/25/2016 at 7:16 pm

    The condition occurs when a dog’s hip joints don’t develop right,
    causing the hips to partially dislocated and leads to early development
    of degenerative joint disease. This can cause a dog a lot of pain and
    can make it really hard to walk around. The cause is almost always
    genetic, and being overweight can make it a lot worse. And while it
    tends to affect large breed dogs more frequently, all breeds of dogs are
    at risk.

  5. Reply
    Wahab Jan 11/26/2016 at 9:45 am

    Hip dysplasia means abnormal formation of the hip. This abnormal formation leads to excessive pain and friction in joints which affects gait and daily activities of your pet. It is an inherited disease and mostly larger breeds are susceptible to it.

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