What Exercises Help Hip Dysplasia?

Everywhere I read about hip dysplasia suggests exercise, but nowhere does it list what exercises to do except for swimming. Please list what exercises and...


Everywhere I read about hip dysplasia suggests exercise, but nowhere does it list what exercises to do except for swimming. Please list what exercises and for what time period one should proceed with the dog’s excerise. [My vet did not have any info on this.]


The type, intensity, and quantity of exercise that is beneficial for hip dysplasia depends upon your dog’s age, condition, and weight.

Hip dysplasia is a syndrome that most often occurs in large breeds of dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. The hips of dogs with the syndrome do not develop properly. This leads to early onset of arthritis. Hip dysplasia should not be confused with natural pelvic arthritis that commonly occurs in older dogs. True hip dysplasia has the potential to cause mobility problems in young dogs.

Hip dysplasia has a strong genetic link. Careful breeding has reduced the incidence of the syndrome in recent years.

All activity helps keep weight down. Obesity is a leading contributor to complications from hip dysplasia. In dogs that are not suffering from symptoms of arthritis or mobility problems, any exercises that are enjoyable for pet and owner will build strength and keep weight down.

Dogs with mobility problems due to hip dysplasia should engage in moderate, low contact activities. Swimming is one such activity. So are leashed walks on level surfaces. I recommend that dogs engage in the maximum amount of activity that does not lead to exacerbation of symptoms during the following 24 hours. In other words, activities that don’t make your dog sore generally are good ones.

Dogs with severe mobility problems will benefit from forms of physical therapy that help to strengthen the muscles of the hind legs and the back (these muscles help support the hips). Examples include sit-to-stand exercises (have the dog sit, then have him rise–this is similar to a human being performing squats) and walking under obstacles such as chairs that require the dog to lower and raise his body. Other forms of physical therapy include tissue massage and range of motion exercises that help to keep the joints in the legs fluid.

Severely disabled dogs should undergo physical therapy regimens only under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian or animal rehabilitation expert. The field of animal rehabilitation is growing, and special rehabilitation centers are now available for dogs and cats with all types of disabilities. In addition to specially trained staff, the centers have special equipment such as underwater tredmills that help improve mobility and function in disabled animals.

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