Dogs with Hip Dysplasia can live totally normal lives without surgery. How is this possible? If the muscles that support the hip joint are strong, then that adds stability to the joints and can often be enough to prevent the need for surgery. But, the muscles need to gain strength via increased exercise and it is necessary to maintain that strength with a maintenance exercise program for life. It is important to find an exercise that works for your dog (without causing further irritation). Leash walking may be a great exercise for many dogs, but for those that do not want to walk or are painful when walking then swimming or underwater treadmill walking is usually recommended. Swimming is a great non-weightbearing form of exercise and is actually great for almost all hip dysplasia dogs. Many people do not have access to a place to swim their dogs, so it is important to implement an effective exercise program for dogs with hip dysplasia with walking as the primary form of exercise.
It is important to realize that an exercise regime for these dogs should be supervised and developed by a veterinarian who is trained in rehabilitation therapy. Just putting your dog into a swimming pool is not physical therapy and can result in further injury. Exercises such as sit to stand and back wards walking can be extremely helpful in building muscles in the hip area.
Chiropractic care can be very important for these dogs. Because they have unbalanced hip muscles their spines are out of alignment. If the spine is realigned and the muscles know what to do because of physiotherapy retraining then there is a lot less pain in the dog. Supplements , vitamins, and nutraceuticals can also be helpful. More on this tomorrow.