Hip dysplasia is a painful and debilitating condition in dogs that can sometimes result in the animal becoming completely crippled. There is no cure for it.
The best thing a dog owner can do is to choose a pet carefully. Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition. That is to say it is passed on from the parents to the offspring. In some cases it can be the result of injury to a dog's hips while it is a puppy or while it is being born. But this is a comparatively rare cause.
While there may be some genetic component in most diseases hip dysplasia is in effect 100% genetic. You must therefore make sure that you examine the parents dogs when you buy a puppy. If they have sound hips the puppy is less likely to suffer from hip dysplasia. Question the vendors carefully about the pedigree of the puppy. Ask if there is any history of hip dysplasia in the family line.
Responsible breeders will have breeding dogs x-rayed to check for any sign of hip dysplasia. They should not breed from a dog that shows any signs of hip dysplasia. A dog may not exhibit any outward symptoms but have a tendency to hip dysplasia that only manifests itself in its offspring. A dog that shows signs of hip dysplasia should be neutered or spayed to make sure that it does not pass on the trait.
Some breeds of dog seem more prone to hip dysplasia then others. German Shepherds, in particular, often suffer from it. This may be because they have been bred for a stance that places the back hip at an unnatural angle.
Hip dysplasia may not show up in a puppy. It often only develops as the dog matures. This is because the back hips are misaligned and malformed. The joint is loose and that may lead to difficulty in walking and running or discomfort and pain.
Wear and tear on the joints gradually produces dislocation and damage. A hip joint that is damaged in this way can become arthritic. An owner may not know about the hip dysplasia and think that the dog has developed arthritis as it got older. But the root cause of the arthritis is the damage that the weak joint has suffered during the dog's lifetime. Large dogs are especially susceptible because of the weight that their joints must carry.
Your veterinarian can not offer any treatment for the dyplasia but will be able to prescribe pain killers. In bad cases the dog will have pain when walking and running. Its mobility may become limited. This can be a contributory factor in other health conditions because the dog can not take normal exercise. Swimming may be one means of maintaining mobility and ensuring that the dog can exercise. The dog's weight is taken by the water and it experiences less pain.
In extreme cases the dog's hindquarters may become completely immobile. The dog will have a very poor quality of life and chronic pain.