How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is a common hip problem in dogs. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict exactly how long a dog with hip dysplasia will live. Especially given the variety of breed lifespans there are.
However, steps like early detection, treatment, and management can make a huge difference.
In this article, we’ll look at the ways hip dysplasia can impact a dog’s life expectancy and quality of life.
We’ll also discuss the importance of health testing.
Do you suspect that your puppy has hip dysplasia? How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
Let’s learn more.
What Is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic diseases in dogs.
It’s characterized by a malformed ball and socket joint. This means the bones don’t fit properly.
It causes the joint to grind rather than slide smoothly when the dog moves. The disease can lead to lameness and painful arthritis.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that’s often affected by environmental factors and diet.
When Can It be Detected?
All puppies are born with normal hips without any signs of the disease.
However, it begins to develop within the first few weeks of life as the puppy grows.
Biomechanical changes caused by joint laxity or malformation of the hip bone socket can be evident in puppies.
This can show up as young as 2 months old.
Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia
Many dogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia.
However, this common skeletal disease is most prevalent in medium, large and giant breeds.
Bigger dogs put more strain on their joints. They often go through a period of rapid growth when they’re puppies.
Already, larger dog breeds typically have shorter life spans than their smaller cousins.
Dogs who are spayed or neutered at a young age are at an increased risk of suffering from symptoms of hip dysplasia.
Large Breeds to Be Aware of Hip Dysplasia
The following is a list of some large breeds who are most affected by hip dysplasia and their average life spans:
- Bernese Mountain dog: 7 to 10 years
- German Shepherd: 7 to 10 years
- Golden Retriever: 10 to 12 years
- Great Dane: 7 to 10 years
- Labrador Retriever: 10 to 12 years
- Newfoundland: 9 to 10 years
- Rottweiler: 9 to 10 years
As you can see, these dogs are already relatively short-lived.
Does having this disease shorten some of our favorite breeds’ existence even further?
And how long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
How Long Do Dogs with Hip Dysplasia Live?
There’s no way to gauge exactly how long a dog with hip dysplasia can live.
As with most diseases, early diagnosis, treatment and management of the disease make a big difference.
In fact, dogs diagnosed and treated in the early stages are usually able to live normal, happy lives.
This is why it’s important for your veterinarian diagnose your puppy as soon as possible. If you suspect he’s got hip dysplasia, consult your vet right away.
Many dogs with mild forms of canine hip dysplasia show no obvious signs until they’re much older, if at all.
Dealing with Dogs Suffering from Hip Dysplasia
However, severe conditions can be so debilitating that the dog is unable to get around without being in excruciating pain.
Sometimes when a dog’s life is so negatively impacted by the disease, euthanasia stops suffering.
It is also the most humane solution.
This study found that dogs with moderate or severe hip dysplasia had a distinctly increased risk of veterinary care.
Mortality is also higher compared to dogs assessed as free or mild.
This Danish study of 2928 dogs attributed 4.6 percent of deaths to hip dysplasia.
Hip Dysplasia Long-Term Effects
If left untreated, hip dysplasia can lead to cartilage lesions and partial or complete tearing of the ligament.
Dogs with affected joints are usually develop varying degrees of:
- cartilage damage
- subchondral bone sclerosis.
Hip dysplasia also leads to osteoarthritis, which can cause extreme pain and difficulty walking.
How Hip Dysplasia Impacts a Dog’s Life
How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
In most cases, hip dysplasia doesn’t shorten a dog’s life span. However, it certainly affects their quality of life.
If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the treatment depends on how badly the joint is damaged.
Caught early, mild hip dysplasia requires managing your dog’s diet and exercise.
Overeating and lack of exercise can lead to obesity. Extra weight also puts added strain on dog’s joints.
On the other hand, too much exercise can also put excess pressure on their joints.
This study found that a lifetime diet restriction postponed the onset.
It also decreased the severity of hip joint osteoarthritis for a positive impact on both the length and quality of life.
Hip Dysplasia Treatment
If your dog’s hip dysplasia is more severe, medication may be required.
Anti-inflammatories manage the pain and reduce swelling.
These non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs are also referred to as NSAIDS.
Surgery for dogs with hip dysplasia is fairly common.
There are a number of options, depending upon the age of the dog and severity of the disease.
Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options
Juvenile public symphysiodesis (JPS) can only be carried out on puppies under 6 months old who are mildly to moderately affected.
It’s a minimally invasive procedure that can improve joint conformance.
This procedure also reduces laxity and prevent progression of degenerative joint disease in the hips.
Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) is a procedure for puppies preventing or reducing the development of osteoarthritis.
It involves cutting the bone so that the socket of the joint can rotate over the ball.
The bones are secured with a plate and screws.
For older dogs with severe hip dysplasia and arthritis, a total hip replacement is the only course of action.
If the hip joint is unsalvagable, a prosthetic hip designed especially for the dog fits his joint.
While this procedure is costly and complications may vary, the success rate is more than 90 percent.
The Importance of Health Testing When Finding a Puppy
All purebred and mixed breed dogs are susceptible to health conditions that affect their parents.
Unfortunately, hip dysplasia affects many breeds, especially those who are large.
One of the best ways to prevent hip dysplasia is to choose a puppy whose parents are health tested.
By using X-rays, experts can rate the quality of a dog’s joints by giving him a numerical score.
Zero is the highest and is equivalent to a score of excellent.
For puppies prone to hip dysplasia, make sure to buy from a breeder who proves both parents have excellent hip scores.
Since hip dysplasia is not only genetic, it’s important to monitor your puppy’s diet and exercise.
Can a Dog Live with Hip Dysplasia?
How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?
We know many dogs lead happy lives with hip dysplasia.
However, their quality of life is impacted by this chronic disease.
If you suspect that your puppy is affected, take him to your veterinarian to assess as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
Here are the symptoms to be aware of:
- Hind leg lameness
- Lack of coordination
- Joint looseness or laxity
- Abnormal or swaying gait
- Audible “click” sound when walking
- Bunny hopping
- Reluctance to run, jump or climb stairs
- Decreased activity
- Exercise intolerance
- Difficulty standing up
- Trouble laying down
- Difficulty squatting to pee or poop
- Loss of thigh muscle mass
- Pain in hip joints
- Back legs too close together
Summary: How Long Can a Dog Live with Hip Dysplasia?
If you’re buying a large breed puppy, there’s a good chance he’ll be prone to hip dysplasia.
If you want a breed who’s prone to hip dysplasia, only buy from a breeder who confirms the parents have low hip scores.
Managing your puppy’s weight and exercise regimen right from the start is also crucial.
If your puppy has any of the symptoms listed above, get your veterinarian to examine them immediately.
How long do dogs live with hip dysplasia?
Hopefully, with early detection and proper care, they can live for a very long time.
References and Further Reading:
Adams, W.M., et al., 1998, “Early Detection of Canine Hip Dysplasia: Comparison of Two Palpation and Five Radiographic Methods,” Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association
Beuchat, C., 2015, “The 10 Most Important Things to Know About Canine Hip Dysplasia,” The Institute of Canine Biology
Dennis, R., “Interpretation and Use of BVA/KC Hip Scores in Dogs,” BMJ Journals
Galis, F., et al., 2007, “Do Large Dogs Die Young?” Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Holsworth, I.G., et al., 2005, “Comparison of Arthroscopic and Radiographic Abnormalities in the Hip Joints of Juvenile Dogs with Hip Dysplasia,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Kapatkin, A.S., et al., 2002, “Canine Hip Dysplasia: The Disease and Its Diagnosis,” University of Pennsylvania
Linn, K.A., 2017, “Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis,” Veterinary Clinical North American Small Animal Practice
Malm, S., et al., 2010, “Association Between Radiographic Assessment of Hip Status and Subsequent Incidence of Veterinary Care and Mortality Related to Hip Dysplasia in Insured Swedish Dogs,” Preventive Veterinary Medicine
McLaughlin Jr., R.M., et al., 1991, “Force Plate Analysis of Triple Pelvic Osteotomy for the Treatment of Canine Hip Dysplasia,” Veterinary Surgery
Montgomery, R.D., et al., 1992, “Total Hip Arthroplasty for Treatment of Canine Hip Dysplasia,” The Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice
Proschowsky, H.F., et al., 2003, “Mortality of Purebred and Mixed-Breed Dogs in Denmark,” Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Schachner, E.R. and Lopez, M.J., 2015, “Diagnosis, Prevention, and Management of Canine Hip Dysplasia: A Review,” Veterinary Medicine & Science in Auckland
Smith, G.K., et al., 2006, “Lifelong Diet Restriction and Radiographic Evidence of Osteoarthritis of the Hip Joint in Dogs,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Spain, C.V., et al., 2004, “Long-Term Risks and Benefits of Early-Age Gonadectomy in Dogs,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Wilson, B.J., et al., 2013, “Genetic Correlations among Canine Hip Dysplasia Radiographic Traits in a Cohort of Australian German Shepherd Dogs, and Implications for the Design of a More Effective Genetic Control Program,” PLOS One