How is hip dysplasia in dogs diagnosed

How is hip dysplasia in dogs diagnosed

Learn about diagnosing hip dysplasia in dogs. Tips for identifying symptoms and treatment options.

Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition in dogs, especially large breed dogs. It is a condition where the hip joint does not form properly, leading to a loose or unstable joint. This can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis. The diagnosis of hip dysplasia in dogs involves a combination of a physical examination, radiographs, and sometimes further diagnostic tests.

Physical Examination

During a physical examination, a veterinarian will assess the gait, range of motion, and muscle mass of the dog. The veterinarian will also palpate the hips, looking for any pain or instability. This is often done with the dog under sedation or anesthesia to allow for a thorough examination.


Radiographs, or x-rays, are a key part of diagnosing hip dysplasia in dogs. The dog is positioned on their back with their legs extended, and the veterinarian takes x-rays of the hip joints. The radiographs are evaluated for the presence of hip dysplasia.

To evaluate the radiographs, the veterinarian will look at several factors, including the shape of the hip socket, the amount of coverage of the ball of the femur, the degree of looseness or instability of the joint, and the presence of any secondary changes, such as arthritis.

PennHIP Evaluation

PennHIP evaluation is another diagnostic method that can be used to diagnose hip dysplasia. It involves a series of radiographs taken in specific positions to measure the looseness of the hip joint. This method is more accurate than traditional radiographs in predicting the development of hip dysplasia and can be performed on dogs as young as 16 weeks of age.

CT Scans and MRI

In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be necessary to evaluate the extent of the hip dysplasia and any associated changes in the bones and soft tissues. These tests are more expensive and require anesthesia, but can provide a more detailed picture of the joint.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are not typically used to diagnose hip dysplasia, but they may be used to evaluate the overall health of the dog and rule out any other conditions that could be causing symptoms.

Joint Aspiration

Joint aspiration, or taking a sample of fluid from the hip joint, may be done to rule out other causes of joint pain and inflammation, such as infection or autoimmune disease.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing can also be used to diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs. This involves evaluating the dog’s DNA to look for specific mutations that are associated with hip dysplasia. This method is not as accurate as radiographs or PennHIP evaluation, but can be used in conjunction with other diagnostic methods.

In conclusion, the diagnosis of hip dysplasia in dogs involves a combination of a physical examination, radiographs, and sometimes further diagnostic tests. Early diagnosis is important for managing the condition and preventing the development of arthritis. If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to begin the diagnostic process.

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