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Treat Your Dog's Hip Dysplasia Through Diet

Nutritional Tips for Your Pet's Hip Dysplasia

By Madeleine Burry. January 14, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM

    Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition

    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Ithaca, NY

Treat Your Dog's Hip Dysplasia Through Diet

While hip dysplasia can be a genetic trait, it doesn't help anything if your dog is overweight. A weight-healthy diet and certain supplements can help keep your dog's hips in fine working order.

Although the causes for hip dysplasia are frequently genetic in nature, even a genetic proclivity toward the syndrome can be accelerated by obesity or even extra weight, which places pressure on your dog’s joints.

A weight-healthy diet and helpful supplements can aide in the treatment of your pet’s hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia leads to tremendous discomfort for your dog since the abnormally formed hip joint causes your pet to have difficulty moving around, and can eventually leads to arthritis.

Weight Management:

An important aspect of both the treatment and prevention of hip dysplasia is weight management. Once pets have hip dysplasia, being a healthy weight can ease the discomfort caused by hip dysplasia and can also lessen the stress that is placed on the hip joints of your pet. Of course, being a healthy weight is good for your pet’s health and can generally help them avoid many common illnesses.

To help your pet lose weight, make sure that you do not feed table scraps, and switch away from a free food system -- where food is always available for your pet to eat -- to providing your pet with small meals throughout the day. Limiting the amount of treats given to your pet can also help them with weight loss and weight maintenance. Having a healthy diet is particularly important for maintaining your pet’s weight, since exercise can become challenging and potentially painful for dogs with hip dysplasia.

Minerals and Supplements:

If pets have hip dysplasia, some supplements can ease the effect of symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids -- which can be given to pets with fish oil supplements -- may be helpful since they can reduce inflammation in your dog’s hips.

Glucosamine and chondroitin can both be given as supplements, and may help retain  your pet’s cartilage, which is damaged as a result of the hip dysplasia. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring substances found in animals -- either within the shells of crustaceans or in the cartilage of various animals like cows. For the purposes of helping your pet, they can be given as supplements in the form of a pill, and may help your pet to retain the protective padding of cartilage around joints.

All of these supplements act by working to help retain or rebuild the cartilage around joints. Your vet can help you determine which supplement, or combination of supplements, will be most helpful to your pet with hip dysplasia. 

Finally, while it’s a fairly unlikely cause, be aware that shortages or excessive amounts of calcium do not help with hip dysplasia. In fact, if fed excessively to large or giant breed puppies, too much calcium can lead to increased developmental orthopedic diseases, and bone and cartilage problems.

More on Pet Health

Nutrition for Cat and Dog Weight Loss
Overweight Dogs and Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's program for Veterinary Medicine.

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