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Spotting the Signs of Dysplasia in Dogs

Symptoms vary depending on severity - usually in young dogs in which bones are still growing (up to about a year old) or in older dogs which have developed signs of arthritis in the hip joints. The older dogs have always had HD but the condition has remained "silent" until arthritis eventually begins to cause problems.

Often muscles of the hip area are noticed to be poorly developed or wasted in young and older dogs. Young dogs typically show a sudden onset of signs, although this can be the case in older dogs too (eg after strenuous exercise) or there can be a more gradual onset of stiffness and lameness.

Lameness & hind leg stiffness are most common signs.
Difficulty in getting up after rest
Difficulty in negotiating stairs (particularly up)
Difficulty in jumping in/out of cars
"Bunny hopping" gait when running
Characteristic sitting posture with legs pushed out to one side

Irrespective of what painkillers are prescribed in young dogs, adequate rest and restriction of exercise, sometimes for several months, is vital. Active young dogs made pain-free by strong painkillers may inadvertently do more damage to their joints, storing up problems for later on.