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Theories for Preventative Treatment of Canine Hip Dysplasia


*The following ideas are derived from the knowledge that CHD is a congenital and hereditary disease manifesting itself with laxity of the hip join(s) with or without the presence of malformation at the hips. The treatment theories are based on what is already known about the disease and basic physiological and therapeutic principals. The intent is to slow the process of degeneration and provide the best possible musculoskeletal environment for pain free hip functioning 

  1. Lifestyle management: decrease slippery surfaces, eliminate jumping, reduce the use of stairs, decrease excessive weight gain or rapid growth, don’t take your puppy out “jogging” with you until 7 months to a year, avoid calcium supplementation beyond normal levels, give a soft bed and allow sleeping indoors or somewhere warm. 
  2. Range of Motion: Flexion, Extension, Abduction, Adduction, Internal Rotation, External Rotation. Full range of motion is required for proper joint nutrition and to maintain join mobility and range. Keep key muscles (i.e. Pectineus) stretched out. 
  3. Strengthening Exercises: Controlled and focused exercises will help to build muscle bulk which in turn protects the join, i.e. Slow walking up and down hills, stepping over poles, walking in and out of a line of pylons, slow job in circles or figure of eight, swimming. 
  4. Balance Exercises: To promote fine muscle control.
    1. Create a displacement force on the hind end (i.e. push sideways on the rump) as though you were trying to push the dog over. Start slow and work into faster forces as the dog learns the “game”. This stimulates a fast response time and the ability to balance)
    2. Tie theraband around the legs while walking. (Can creatively tie for either abduction or adduction force)
    3. Loop theraband around the limb and do gentle bouncing pulls to create a displacement force. Quick muscle response is trained.
    4. Have the dog stand and balance on a “rebounder” or trampoline while small jumps are being applied to the surface. Progress to holding the torso off the surface while still having a small bounce (hind end balancing only).
    5. Walking in snow, sand, shallow water, uneven surface (i.e. foam/cushions off the couch
    6. Cross leg standing: Lift opposing diagonal legs (a front and back leg on opposite sides)
  5. Massage: Around the hips to decrease muscle spasm and increase blood flow.
  6. Heat: (if symptomatic) i.e. hot water bottle, heating pad, electric blanket or heated flooring.
  7. Spinal Factors: A dysfunction (improper movement) may be present at the thoracic vertebral levels; T8 to T10. The humbar spine and particularly the lumbosacral junction may be functioning incorrectly as well (often hyperextending). A physical therapist would be able to detect and treat these dysfunctions.
  8. Joint Compressions: Compression through a join (approximating the join surfaces) is proven to increase the firing of join mechanoreceptors which therefore increases ligament tension, muscular stability and proprioception.
  9. Joint Scouring: Compression and controlled circular movements at a join (into inner and outer quadrants of the hip joint). This not only helps to provide join nutrient, but also can play a part in join remodeling.
  10. Medical or Nutritional Treatments: Vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial for symptomatic flare-ups. Antiinflammatories, Adequan, Rimadyl or Medicam may be prescribed by your veterinarian. Ask about other join healing substances i.e. Glucosamine HCI and MSM found in pet stores / health stores or vet-only options such as Cosequin or Cartrophen.

*Use of this protocol should not be undertaken without instruction from a physical therapist. Certain techniques (i.e. spinal mobilizations) should only be performed by a trained physical therapist.



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Hillside Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine Clinic
1038 Hillside Ave. Victoria BC V8T 2A5