Hip Dysplasia In Dogs – The 3 Most Commonly Asked Questions – Episode 014

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Quick Summary:

In this episode (014), I discuss hip dysplasia in dogs and answer the 3 most commonly asked questions about hip dysplasia.  Can dogs live a long, happy life with hip dysplasia? Is hip dysplasia curable? And, should I walk my dog who has hip dysplasia?  These questions are addressed along with simple, yet important topics such as euthanasia not being an appropriate option for hip dysplasia in dogs, avoiding the cycle of pain and inflammation, and just how treatable hip dysplasia in dogs can be with a proper home exercise and physical therapy program.

Treats For You:

The Canine Hip Dysplasia Success Program that I mention in the episode all begins with the “Happy At Home” Hip Dysplasia 5 Day Challenge, followed by an opportunity to join the program.

So click here now >> The “Happy At Home Hip Dsyplasia 5 Day Challenge with Julie McKinney Miller. It provides tremendous value and begins March 4, 2020.

You can join through Friday, March 6th, at 11:59pm EST. And then it’s closed!! Join us now!

Show Notes/Transcript:

Well, Hi There.  It’s Julie, and welcome to another episode of Dog Lovers Unleashed.

Today, we’re talking about three common questions that so many people ask about hip dysplasia in dogs.

So if you have a dog with hip dysplasia or you worry that your dog might have hip dysplasia, maybe you noticed they walk a little funny in the back end or they hop up stairs or they do the bunny hopping when they run.

Then you definitely want to listen in.

00:01:04 Today, I’m talking about three simple yet really, really important questions that get asked so much.

Okay, so here they are…

#1.  If I have a dog with hip dysplasia, can my dog live a normal, happy life?

We’re gonna answer that.

#2.  Is hip dysplasia curable?  

We’re gonna answer that one, too.

#3  Should I walk my dog that has hip dysplasia?  

We’re going to get into that as well.

00:01:36 Let’s jump right into question number one.  So the scenario is my dog has hip dysplasia, and I’m really freaking out.  I’m really worried about my dog.  Can my dog live a normal, healthy, happy life and able to run and play and do all the things that dogs do?

00:01:56  I am here to tell you that the answer is a resounding yes!  So don’t freak out.  Don’t feel horribly devastated.  I know it’s easy for me to say, but I can tell you – I’ve been there.  I felt those feelings and what I realized through my own dog, Tucker, which I’ll tell you about and through 20 years of experience as a canine physical therapist, is that it isn’t warranted.

00:02:23 We don’t need to panic.  We don’t need to freak out.  We don’t need to be so devastated by a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.

00:02:31 So let me tell you about Tucker, and then we’ll get into why hip dysplasia is not that big of a deal and how to maybe “re-think” it….if you are struggling with your dog just having been diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

00:02:46 So Tucker was eight months old and he started acting kind of funny on his back legs.  And at the time, I was a physical therapy student.  So I was in graduate school for that, planning to treat people.  And we take our dog to the orthopedic surgeon and we’re told he’s got the worst case of hip dysplasia they’ve ever seen.

00:03:08 Now, since then, I’ve heard so many people say that their vets say that!  That’s kind of interesting because they can’t ALL be the worst case, right?

00:03:16 But regardless, it was pretty bad, his hip socket was supposed to fit nicely – the ball in the socket.  And the ball was way up high, so it was completely out of the socket, and we were just devastated.  So, like I said, we’ve been there.

00:03:36 I know what it’s like.  I went into panic mode.  I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh, my dog is gonna need physical therapy” cause you know, I’m engrossed in physical therapy school, and we had just studied hip replacements, and there were so many precautions.  For example, with one surgical technique, patients couldn’t move their hit beyond 90 degrees, which meant that at home, after they left the hospital, they had to have an elevated toilet seat.

00:04:03 So I started thinking, “Gosh, this is complicated for a dog.”  And, ”How do you do this and have them not move in certain ways to protect the repair?”  And then on top of it, “How in the world do you get them to do the physical therapy?”

00:04:21 So long story short, I found the very first continuing education course.  It was a weekend course on canine physical therapy, the very 1st one that was being offered in our country, and I was so excited to go to it, and I ended up going, and it was one of the best weekends of my life.  It really was the blending of my two passions.  I went there fully intending just to treat Tucker, to learn enough to apply my skills to my own dog.  But I realized it was the perfect blend of my two passions, my passion for physical therapy and my passion for dogs.

00:05:00 And so I just went full force and took every course I could, and before you know it, I was at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine treating dogs.

00:05:11 So anyway, let’s talk about hip dysplasia.  I’m so excited about this.

00:05:15 So question number one.

Can my dog live a happy, full life?

And with that, so many people say, “Am I going to have to euthanize my dog?”

And, “No, you are not!”  So a couple of things with this one…

I promise you, whether your dog gets surgery or not, your dog can live a long, healthy, happy life!

It’s not fatal.  It does not shorten their life at all.  Your dog will do just fine with hip dysplasia, no matter how it’s treated.

00:05:51 Yes, it’s true.  There will be some arthritis, but we all know we can deal with arthritis, right?

So one of the things I like to tell people is:  “Think about if this was your own joint or your child’s joint, would you even consider ending life?”

Of course we wouldn’t.  We get surgeries for our joints when it needs it, and we take supplements and we take pain meds if we need to.

But we don’t end our life over a joint hurting.

I really, really, really want us to start moving away from this idea that euthanasia is an okay option for hip dysplasia because it’s not and this is my opinion.

But I know a lot of people feel this way.

It is an outdated approach.

00:06:44 So if you go to the vet and your vet tells you, “Well, you know, you could do all the way from a total hip replacement to an FHO…”

[And I’ll talk in a later series about these different surgical techniques.  I’m gonna have an orthopedic surgeon come on and tell us about the different surgeries]

Or you could do what we call conservative management, and that means you just manage it with medication.

And physical therapy can be a part of that.  But basically it just means no surgery, right?

00:07:13 So if your vet also adds onto the list of possible treatment options – euthanasia – please get another vet!  

It is so outdated and so unacceptable, in my opinion, for somebody to recommend ending a precious life over a joint that’s going to cause some pain.

Come on, we all have joints that might hurt and we all end up, if we get old enough, with arthritis and we don’t end our lives over it.  So let’s not do that for our dogs.

So that’s one thing I feel very, very, very strongly about.

00:07:53 Okay, so, yes, your dog can live a normal, healthy, happy, full life.  Your dog can live to their full age.  

Hip dysplasia is just a malformation of the joint.

You got a “ball” in a “socket,” and they just don’t fit together in the way that they should.  That’s all it is.

00:08:14 Maybe you’re getting some bone-on-bone motion or it’s just a feeling unstable to your dog.  

Usually, dogs with hip dysplasia have pain if they extend their hips back behind them.  And so that’s why you see the bunny hopping and different compensations that the dog makes.

It’s actually, even though it’s a sign of hip dysplasia, a good thing because they’re protecting their body from having pain that leads to more inflammation and irritation.

So it’s a good thing that they do that – it’s not a bad thing that we want to try to get them to not do!  I will talk about that in the future episode as well.

00:08:57 Okay, so question number two:  

Is hip dysplasia curable?

No, I am not gonna sugarcoat it.  It’s not curable, but the thing is, it’s also not a disease.  Like we said, it’s just that the joint is misaligned, and you can get some bone on bone grinding and wear down the cartilage, and it can become painful and irritating.

00:09:21 And so there’s no cure for it, because we can’t magically get that hip to sit in the right place.

But the thing is, there are many treatment options that help dogs do really, really well.

00:09:36 If you think of hip dysplasia as a misaligned hip joint, then I think it really simplifies it for people.  It’s not a disease.  It’s not going to spread.

It’s just confined to that joint, and oftentimes, if dogs have it, they have it in both back legs, and it can be worse on one side than the other.  That’s totally normal.

I’ve seen so many dogs that go through life, and they do just fine with no surgical intervention.

00:10:08 I’ve also seen hundreds of dogs get an FHO where they actually remove the head of the femur.  So now, there’s no bone there that’s grinding on the socket, and that relieves the pain.  And those dogs do really well, too.

00:10:23 And then there’s a total hip replacement.  I’ve seen out there on the Internet that people say the only cure for hip dysplasia is to do a total hip replacement.

And I don’t really agree with that because that you could do an FHO…. And you could call that a cure to if you wanted to because they’re not going to have pain anymore.

00:10:44 The total hip is a good treatment option for some dogs.

It comes with its risks, and we’re going to get into that in this next episode that I do with an orthopedic surgeon, so we will save that for later.

00:10:56 But no, it (Is it curable?) is not even a question we need to worry about.

It’s one of the most asked questions about hip dysplasia online, which is why I’m talking about it.  So many people type in:  “Is hip dysplasia in dogs curable?” …and I say let’s not ask that question because it’s treatable.

00:11:17 It’s very, very treatable and that’s what matters.

So is there a cure?  No, because the joint is what it is.

00:11:25 And so we’re gonna need to treat it somehow – that’s the question that matters.

So let’s change “Is it curable? To “Is it treatable?”

00:11:36 And oh my.  Yes, it is very treatable.

I have treated hundreds of dogs who have not had any surgical intervention, and they have done extremely well for the entirety of their lives.

I teach their parents how to do a home program and the ones that follow it to a T…

…These dogs do extremely well, and they’re able to avoid surgery.

00:12:01 I was recently asked what my success rate was with that.  I was being interviewed.  I was like, “Well, I don’t know.”

I’ve never really kept stats.  But then it dawned on me that every single dog that I’ve worked with whose parents wanted them to avoid surgery, never got surgery.  So, all of a sudden, I was like, “Well, I guess 100% then, which seems strange to say because that’s amazing, right?

But that’s how treatable it is without surgery.

And there are good surgical options, too, and we’re going to get into that next time.

00:12:41 Question Number three that gets asked on Google about dogs with hip dysplasia.

Should I walk my dog with hip dysplasia?

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, a big yes, yes, I can’t say it enough.”

00:13:00 Dogs do so well with slow controlled leash walking.

The things that tend to flare hip dysplasia are running, jumping, rough-housing, barreling up the stairs, doing things that require a lot of force through the joint when the dog’s legs are weak and I can’t stress that one enough.

So I’m not saying that your dog can’t run and jump and climb stairs.  I’m not saying that at all, but we need to get the dog’s legs strong enough to the point that they can support that hip.  The muscles around that joint can support that hip enough that it that these activities aren’t going to irritate your dog.

00:13:48 So a really good way to get started is to start walking your dog and just start doing a little bit.

It depends on what their baseline is.

I always have people get their baseline first and then just slowly progress.  There’s so much more to it that we can add to the home program and ways to build muscle in the back legs.

But once the back legs get strong enough, your dog will naturally start wanting to do some of the things that maybe they haven’t been wanting to do in the past.  They may more readily climb stairs, for example, or maybe they’ll start running and they won’t always bunny hop.

00:14:29 So you’ll you’ll see changes as your dog’s legs get stronger, because strengthening your dog’s back legs really is key to this whole big hip dysplasia puzzle.

00:14:40 If you’re gonna avoid surgery or even if you’re going to reserve the option like, “Hey, you know, if my dog down the line isn’t doing well, then I might choose to do surgery.”

That’s perfectly fine.

So let’s keep the dog’s legs as strong as possible because then after surgery they will have a better outcome.

So, for every reason, we want to keep your dog’s legs as strong as possible.  But we have to do it in a way that doesn’t increase irritation and therefore inflammation and cause pain.

It’s really important to stay out of that cycle.  And that’s something that I teach pet parents all about.

00:15:17 If you’re interested and would like to learn more about this program that I have for pet parents who have dogs with hip dysplasia, simply go to:


You will find some more information there.  You can read all about it and check it out.  It’s awesome.

00:15:51 Okay, so in summary, three of the most commonly asked questions on Google.

#1 Can my dog live a long, healthy, happy life with hip dysplasia?

A Resounding Yes!!!

#2 Is hip dysplasia in dogs curable?

Not really.  Let’s not talk about that.  Let’s say, “Is it treatable?”

And yes, indeed, it is very treatable.

Lots of different options, and we can explore those together in the future.

And question number three was…

Should I walk my dog with hip dysplasia?

And that is a “resounding yes” as well.

It’s just that we need to find the dog’s baseline and slowly progress.  So no weekend warrior stuff is allowed.  That’s a big no no.  

No long hikes out of the blue – that’s gonna make your dog really sore and painful.

00:16:39 So again, if you want to check out the program that I have for pet parents who have dogs with hip dysplasia, simply go to www.caninerehabhub.com/HDprogram

I will put that link right on the page with the show notes over at www.DogLoversUnleashed.com/014.  

You can pop right over to this episode.  The highlights will be there, as well as any resource and links that I choose to put on that page for you, so you might want to just check it out.  Hint, hint.

00:17:23 I will catch you next time.


00:17:27 Well, dog lovers out there, it’s been a blast.  I love doing these interviews and sharing this great information with you. If you haven’t yet signed up for the exclusive mailing list for the show, hop on over to the home page at www.dogloversunleashed.com, and it’s right there at the top of the home page.  You just simply pop in your email and it’s only one email per week. I promise you, I will not bombard you with emails because I’m very sensitive about that.  So you will get one email per week, which talks about the topic of the episode and what’s coming so you can get excited and mark your calendars about particular episodes of interest for you.

And if you feel inspired, please share these episodes on social media and pass them along.  It would be so appreciated because we can spread the word and create an amazing rippling effect.

And we can help millions of dogs and their people!   Join in the fun, and I will catch you next time.

Until then, here’s to “Fetching Your Dog’s Best Life.”

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