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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Diagnosis In-depth

  • On physical examination, after watching your dog walk and performing a general physical examination, your veterinarian will perform an orthopedic evaluation in order to suggest the best course of treatment for your dog.

  • First your veterinarian will fully flex and extend the hip joint. Dogs with hip dysplasia usually tolerate hip flexion but resent hip extension. Abduction (rotating the leg out from the body) is also painful.

  • Your veterinarian may also attempt an Ortolani maneuver. This manipulation is performed on young dogs to assess joint laxity. A normal hip should stay tight as opposed to a dysplastic hip in which the "ball" might slide in and out of the "socket." In most cases, an Ortolani maneuver cannot be performed on a conscious young puppy.

  • Radiographs provide your veterinarian information about the conformation of the hip joint and, in many cases, associated arthritic change. The most common view involves extending the legs with the dog on its back. This is also the view for x-rays submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to provide a hip scoring scheme for hip dysplasia assessment.

  • The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP), provides a much more objective evaluation of your puppy's hips by measuring the amount of laxity in the hip joint, thereby getting a good idea of the chances of developing arthritis in those joints as your pet ages.

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