Important Low Impact Exercises for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia You Need to Know About

What is Dog Hip Dysplasia?

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Dog hip dysplasia is a condition where the ball and socket in the dog’s hip joint do not fit or fully develop. The result is that the ball and socket rub and grind against each other rather than sliding smoothly. Over time, this action leads to deterioration of the joint and eventual loss of its functionality.

Hip dysplasia is common in larger dog breeds, but it can still occur in smaller breeds. Before you can start treating the condition or even exercise your dog, there is the need to understand hip dysplasia in detail first.

Several reports show that with a bit of exercise, it can help to alleviate the pain your dog goes through due to hip dysplasia. So, what are some of the exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia? Before all that, let us look at what might cause hip dysplasia in your dog.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

Multiple factors can lead to canine hip dysplasia, but the most common is genetics. As stated earlier, this condition is common in large dog breeds. Such include the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, and Saint Benard.

Other causes that might lead to the condition include;

  • Nutrition
  • Pelvic muscle mass
  • Obesity and rapid weight gain that puts more strain on the joints

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Hip Dysplasia

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Hip dysplasia can have a lot impact on how your dog behaves. If you can identify the symptoms early, it will be easy to start the treatment process. Here are the symptoms of the condition.

Your dog becomes less active

If your hyperactive dog suddenly becomes less active, then you would know there is something wrong. It does not have to be hip dysplasia right away, but you should be concerned. Dogs with the conditions will rest a lot more, show less enthusiasm when it is time for a walk, and tends not to play fetch anymore.

Your dog has a decreased climbing ability

In the presence of hip dysplasia, the dog will develop inflammation too. This makes the joint area sore and painful. These two make the dog end up with less range of motion at the joint. Subsequently, its climbing ability faces challenges. Each time you need the dog to get into the car, it will have difficulties jumping right in as it did before.

Getting off the ground becomes hard

Any keen pet owner will notice if a dog struggles to get off the ground. The slowness in getting to a standing position is because of the pain associated with the condition. The limited range of motion does not allow the canine to get off the ground faster.

The bunny hopping movement 

Bunny hopping is when the dog moves the hind legs at the same time like a bunny would do when hopping and thus the name. The bunny hopping movement is noticeable when the dog is walking, climbing, running, or descending stairs.

You should still differentiate between a bunny hopping and pouncing activity. Pouncing is associated with hunting or during play time.

Hip Sensitivity

Whenever you touch your dog around the hip area and it shows discomfort, it could be because of hip dysplasia. This condition makes the hip area sensitive and painful. It might be reason enough to get your dog to a vet for further examination.

Is it Recommended to Exercise a Dog with Hip Dysplasia?

At this point, you would be looking for options to help alleviate the pain associated with dog hip dysplasia. One of the recommended methods is to use exercise. It is best to talk to your vet for more information about how to go about it.

A vet would come up with a good exercise program that will largely involve walking, swimming, and other activities. A 20-minute walk daily at a slower pace can help strengthen the joint. After several sessions of exercises for a dog with hip dysplasia, you should start seeing an improvement in the way the dog walks or runs.

The Best Exercises for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

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Below are some of the exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia you can start using today.


Water exercises such as swimming are ideal for the rotational movement of the joints. The best part is that the water buoyancy lifts the dog up relieving significant pressure on the affected hip. The dog will now have an easier time moving the joint without feeling too much pain.

The swimming activity also loosens the tight ligaments. You will notice that the dog enjoys the swimming activity once it finds out that moving the legs is no longer painful.

Before taking the dog for a swim, you need the right gear for it. Get a life vest to give it the support it needs to swim better. Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, it is likely to get tired and the life vest will support it.

It is advisable that you take it slow. Start by wading the dog into the water. Do not force it to swim. With a bit of encouragement, your dog will find being in water fun. Depending on how the pooch responds to the activity, take it even to the deep end of the pool after a couple of sessions.

Pet owners are advised to use treats to encourage the pet to swim even better. Call the dog from the other end and see if it comes towards you happily.

Swimming can be fun for your dog, but you need to know its limitations. It can easily get tired after long sessions. It is still advisable not to overdo the swimming exercise. A few sessions in a week should be sufficient exercise for the canine.


Anyone who has experience with a dog having hip dysplasia will tell you that it does not like to move around. The problem with sedentary lifestyle is that your pet gains a lot of weight and ends up putting more pressure on the problematic hip. As much as the dog might not like walking as before, you need to keep it active by taking short walks more often.

Before taking your dog for a walk, it is best to scout the route first. You need to identify a location with no obstacles. Obstacles can make it hard to get the dog over if it has a hip dysplasia. You should also look out for cracked pavements, tree roots, rocks, and other things that might make the dog stumble.

A dog that is in pain might not always love the sight of a leash. You might as well as trick it with some treats to help it relax before putting on a leash. A leash is crucial to control your pet while around people and other pets.

When you are out walking the dog, adjust your stride in a way that it matches your dog’s pace. The last thing you want is to walk too fast for your ailing dog. Offer words of encouragement to your pooch and some treats whenever possible. Do not go too far from home that the dog is unable to walk back.

Agility Training

Another option you have as a pet owner is to include agility training alongside swimming and walking. With agility training, take the dog through various obstacles, tunnels, and much more. The obstacles should be low as dogs with hip dysplasia cannot jump too high. The use of agility training is known to stimulate the dog mentally and physically. Well, the dog will not get obese with regular agility training.

Come up with games

Any dog with hip dysplasia will have a hard time playing catch. As part of helping your dog, new creative games can be good exercises for a dog with hip dysplasia to enjoy. The games should be low impact so that they can keep the dog busy without necessarily hurting the joint. It is still not recommended to overdo the games too.

Below is a video explaining some of the exercises you can use for dog hip dysplasia.

Other Methods for Easing the Dog’s Pain

Other than using exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia, a massage session is still ideal for relieving the pain. Once a dog gets used to a massage, it would be easy to give it one more often. A newbie dog might be uncomfortable when you touch the affected hip, but with time it gets used to the massage activity. Before you can start the massage activity, it would be best to consult with a vet to understand if it would be ideal for your dog’s scenario.

It is still possible to alleviate the dog’s pain through daily supplements of chondroitin and Glucosamine compounds. Glucosamine is known for rebuilding the cartilage destroyed around the hip. It also helps ease the pain as a result of arthritis. Chondroitin on the other hand helps to relieve joint pain and further improve joint mobility.

Keeping your home dog friendly is crucial

Pet owners need to create dog friendly spaces, especially for those with hip dysplasia. The aim is to make it easy for your dog to move around the house. Ensure that there is a clear and obstacle-free path for moving around the house. It is still not easy for a dog with hip problem to move over a slippery surface. Get your dog the pet boots or even traction socks to help the dog get a better grip on such slippery floors.

Mobility aids can come in handy to help the dog gain balance. Some of these aids include dog wheelchairs and hip support. For a dog that has trouble keeping balance because of a bad hip, then a wheelchair might be necessary. The wheelchair is also good for supporting the weight of the dog, relieve a lot of pressure from the affected hip joint, and still get your pet walking better again after a hip surgery.

A hip support brace can be great too, if the dog seems to lose balance all the time or cannot stand for too long. Make sure that you choose the right support brace depending on your dog size and other factors.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

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Since hip dysplasia is majorly genetic, sometimes it is hard to prevent it from happening. However, there are steps you can take to keep the condition from getting worse. Below is how to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs;

Feed the dog with high quality food

As much as extra weight can lead to more pressure on the hip, this does not mean you feed your dog with low quality food. The high-quality food is essential to provide the dog with all the important nutrients it needs to grow strong bones and joints. Such a good diet will also help eliminate abnormal cartilage growth in puppies. Always go for the high-quality food types to boost the overall health of your dog as it grows.

Use dietary supplements whenever possible

It is beneficial if the dog is getting all the important minerals and vitamins. If you see that is not the case with the diet, there is the option of using dietary supplements. An example is the Perna supplement that contains 57 important nutrients. These nutrients will help strengthen the dog’s joints.

Create an exercise routine for the dog

As suggested earlier, being obese for a dog might lead to serious issues. It is why you need to create a workout routine for your dog. The routine should keep in mind the health status of the dog. Over-exercising your dog might not always be the best solution. Gentle and low impact exercises are generally considered to be the best way to go.

Take the dog for hip dysplasia screening

If you own a dog breed known for having hip dysplasia, then it is best to take it for screening, early at around four months to one year old. If you also suspect the dog might be developing the condition from the symptoms we discussed above, it is the right time to take it for screening. Catching the condition early before it fully develops can be great as you will start the treatment as soon as possible.


Your dog having hip dysplasia is not the end of its world. It can still lead an active and normal life if you take into consideration the tips highlighted in the guide above. If you have a dog with hip dysplasia, ensure that you understand that it would need extra care. Take your time to learn more about the steps you have to take for handling an ailing dog.

Exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia are common for those who might not afford the expensive hip surgery procedure for dogs. If you choose to use exercises, make sure to take it slow until the pet gets used to them. Also, do not overdo the exercises as they might lead to more injuries rather than helping.