What Are the Signs of Hip Problems in Dogs?

dog with hip problems

How can you tell if your dog is suffering from stiff joints or hip pain? It would be wonderful if our pups could simply tell us when they’re joints are painful, but instead, we have to rely on picking up on some subtle behavior clues.

We’re here to help by going over the most common signs of hip joint problems in dogs, what causes them, and how you can help your dog find relief from hip pain.

Let’s start by figuring out what type of hip problem your pup is dealing with...

Acute Hip Pain in Dogs

Also known as short-term hip pain, the first type of dog hip issue we’re going to talk about is the acute kind, which is typically caused by an injury or trauma like a fall.

Acute hip pain is usually pretty easy to diagnose in dogs, either because you actually witnessed the physical trauma that caused it, or by how sudden the symptoms occur.

If your pup is injured and suddenly suffering from acute hip pain, you should consult your veterinarian about getting treatment immediately, so it doesn’t turn into the next type of hip pain we’re going to discuss.

Chronic Hip Pain in Dogs

dog with hip problems

Hip pain that’s slower in developing and won’t seem to go away is known as long-term or chronic. This type of hip problem is usually the result of persistent joint inflammation due to hip dysplasia or arthritis in dogs.

Your dog’s chronic hip pain is most likely caused by a breaking down of cartilage, which leaves the joints without any “shock absorbers” to stop the painful grinding of bones.

Both dog arthritis and hip dysplasia can be caused by genetics, excessive weight gain, or a poor diet. These conditions tend to be more common in large breed dogs, but they can be prevented or treated successfully, no matter the breed of pup you have.

Common Signs of Dog Hip Problems

Now that you know the two types of hip problems in dogs, your next step is to keep an eye out for trouble by watching for the following signs of painful hips in your pup.

  • Limping or favoring one side when moving
  • Running with a “bunny hop” gait in the hind legs
  • Trouble navigating the stairs or being able to stand
  • Sudden reluctance to play or exercise in an active dog
  • Standing with the back legs held closer together than the front
  • Sudden sounds of popping or cracking coming from the joints
  • Visibly swollen joints or signs of sensitivity when being petted

How to Diagnose Hip Problems in Dogs

While watching for signs of hip pain in your pup is a good place to start when it comes to diagnosing your dog with acute or chronic hip problems, the only way to be certain that your furry friend is in pain and needs joint health support is by visiting your vet.

Your dog’s doctor can run diagnostics like x-rays and blood tests to be able to tell if your pup is suffering from hip dysplasia or arthritis. From there, your vet will be able to help you find the best treatments for dog hip pain.

How to Help Dog Hip Pain At Home

Some veterinarians might recommend hip surgery for your pup, but don’t be afraid to ask your vet about less invasive, non-surgical options like hip pain medications or an all-natural joint supplement for dogs. 

It can be hard to watch your furry friend suffer from painful hips and stiff joints, but there are things you can do at home to help keep your pup comfortable and hopefully avoid the trauma and expense of hip surgery for dogs.

Provide plenty of nutrients with high-quality kibble and consider a daily multi-vitamin for dogs to make sure your pup is getting the amino acids and minerals they need for optimal health.

Keep your dog active to help prevent hip problems by making sure they get some low-impact exercise each day, such as walking or swimming.

active dog

Add a joint supplement to your dog’s daily routine to support better mobility and reduce hip pain. Just make sure you choose a safe and effective joint chew for dogs that contains natural ingredients like MSM, glucosamine, and turmeric for dog joint pain.

Introduce more omega-3 fatty acids into your dog’s diet by adding fish or flaxseed to their food, or by picking up some tasty omega-3 treats for dogs to avoid a mess. Fatty acids not only increase your pup’s mobility, but also strengthen their immune system, and boost their skin and coat health.

dog omega treats

Ask your vet about physical therapy for dog joint pain, such as using underwater treadmills for hydrotherapy, or hiring a canine physical therapist to teach you effective massage and stretching techniques for dog hip pain relief.

Get serious about weight control if your pup is carrying too many extra pounds, which is one of the most common causes of joint pain in dogs. Talk to your vet about their recommendations for low-calorie kibble or other doggy diet suggestions.

Make your home more accessible to older dogs with painful hips by adding ramps to get on and off furniture, or blocking off stairs to prevent injuries, as well as keeping your home warm during the colder months to ward off stiff joints.

The Bottom Line on Dog Hip Problems

Being a good pet parent can be challenging, especially as your dog gets older and starts showing the signs of painful hips. But making sure your aging pup is happy and healthy is easier than you might think, as long as you’re keeping a watchful eye.

Be conscious of the early warning signs of dog hip pain, such as trouble standing or walking, and remember that your dog’s veterinarian is a great partner in your goal of keeping your pup with you for as long as possible.

With the simple addition of daily multi-vitamins, a top-rated dog joint supplement, and some low-impact exercise to keep excess weight gain at bay, you can help keep your dog’s tail wagging for many years to come!

dog with mobility chews