If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, you may be wondering which types of exercises would be best for them. After all, you want to do everything you can to help your furry friend feel better.
Fortunately, there are a number of exercises that can benefit dogs with hip dysplasia and help enhance their mobility and quality of life. In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the best options to consider, and explain how they can help.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Before we dive into the exercises, let’s briefly touch on what hip dysplasia is, why it occurs, and how it can affect your dog.
Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit or develop properly. This misalignment can lead to painful wear and tear on the joint, and over time, arthritis can develop.
While it’s most commonly seen in larger breeds, any dog can be affected by canine hip dysplasia. And unfortunately, once the condition develops, it’s not something that can be cured. But with the right management and care, you can help your dog live a long and comfortable life.
What Causes Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that’s passed down from parents to puppies. However, a variety of other factors can also contribute to the development of the condition, including:
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of exercise
- Rapid weight gain or growth
- Hormonal imbalances
As mentioned earlier, larger breeds are more prone to developing hip dysplasia, and certain breeds are considered to be high-risk. These include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Bloodhounds, and Newfoundlands.
However, even if your dog isn’t a high-risk breed, that doesn’t mean they can’t develop hip dysplasia. So, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition, which we’ll discuss next.
How Does Hip Dysplasia Affect Dogs?
The symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but some of the most common signs include:
- Decreased activity level
- Difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position
- Hesitation to jump or climb stairs
- Swaying hips or an abnormal gait
- Pain or discomfort in the hip area
- Muscle loss in the hind limbs
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your dog to the vet right away for an examination. They may need x-rays or other diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.
Once the condition is diagnosed, your veterinarian will work with you to create a treatment plan. This will likely involve a combination of weight management, pain relief, joint supplements, and exercises to help improve your dog’s mobility.
What Are the Benefits of Exercise for Dogs With Hip Dysplasia?
Now that we’ve covered what hip dysplasia is and how it affects dogs, let’s talk about how exercise can help. For dogs with hip dysplasia, exercise is important for a few reasons:
- Weight management and obesity prevention
- Maintenance of muscle mass and joint function
- Improved range of motion and flexibility
- Reduced pain and inflammation
- Mental stimulation and stress relief
In short, regular exercise can help your dog feel better and improve their overall quality of life. In the next section, we’ll give an overview of several exercises that are ideal for dogs with hip dysplasia. But first, it’s important to note that you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine, especially if your dog is dealing with pain or mobility issues.
What Types of Exercises Are Best for Dogs With Hip Dysplasia?
In general, dogs with hip dysplasia should avoid strenuous exercises that put a lot of impact on their joints. This means no running, jumping, or other high-impact activities. Instead, focus on exercises that are low impact and put minimal stress on your dog’s hip joints.
Some great options to consider include:
Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that’s ideal for dogs with hip dysplasia. It’s a great way to get your dog moving without putting too much strain on their hip joints. Just be sure to start slowly and gradually increase the distance as your pup builds up their endurance.
If you notice signs such as limping or discomfort, back off and give your dog a break. You don’t want to push them too hard and risk exacerbating their condition.
Swimming is another excellent exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia. The water provides support and helps take the weight off of your dog’s joints. This can help reduce pain and inflammation while also promoting muscle development.
Make sure to start slowly and let your dog get acclimated to the water. You’ll also want to invest in a high-quality dog life jacket to help improve buoyancy and prevent fatigue. Some dogs will take to swimming right away, while others may need a little more time to get comfortable. So, remember to be patient and let your dog progress at their own pace.
Hydrotherapy is similar to swimming but is typically done in a controlled setting such as a rehabilitation center or veterinary hospital. This form of therapy can be very helpful in reducing pain and improving mobility. Exercising with an underwater treadmill is one common form of hydrotherapy.
If you’re interested in hydrotherapy for your dog, be sure to find a reputable facility that’s experienced in working with dogs with hip dysplasia. Your veterinarian can likely provide some recommendations.
Core Strengthening Exercises
In addition to exercises that focus on mobility, it’s also highly beneficial to do exercises that help strengthen your dog’s core muscles. This includes the muscles around the hips, abdomen, lower back, and hind limbs.
Strong core muscles provide support for the hips and can help take pressure off the hip joint on each side. There are a variety of exercises you can do to target these muscle groups. One simple option is to have your dog lie on their side and lift their leg up and down to exercise the hip joint. You can also try sit-ups, bridges, or even yoga poses designed specifically for dogs.
In some cases, your dog may benefit from physical therapy. This is often the case for dogs that are dealing with severe hip dysplasia that’s accompanied by painful inflammation.
A physical therapist can help design a custom exercise routine that’s specifically tailored to your dog’s needs. They can also provide helpful tips for modifying exercises as your dog’s condition progresses.
Low-Impact Games or Training
Finally, another great way to exercise your dog’s mind and body is to engage in some low-impact games or training. This could include activities such as agility exercises, obedience training, or nose work.
Not only are these activities fun for your dog, but they can also help improve their overall mental and physical well-being. This can be a great way to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged while also getting some much-needed exercise.
How Will You Build Exercise Into Your Dog’s Routine?
Now that you know some of the best exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia, it’s time to start incorporating them into your dog’s routine. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity as your dog gets used to a particular exercise or activity. And, if you have any concerns, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. They can help you create a custom exercise plan that’s right for your dog.
Richard is a copywriter and content creator who works with pet and veterinary businesses. When he’s not researching, writing, or creating content plans, he enjoys spending time with his rescue dog, Otto, and exploring new places. Check out his blog for savvy pet parents at richardrowlands.com.