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Hip Dysplasia: What is it?

Hip dysplasia is a condition of the hips that may seriously affect your pet’s mobility (and your wallet). Learn more about hip dysplasia with these basic questions to better understand your pet’s risks.

What is hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is basically when the hip joints develop abnormally. The ball of the femur should fit perfectly into the socket (see image 1) with the support of ligaments and cartilage, and the muscles support full range of movement. With hip dysplasia, it is not a perfect fit so the bone fits somewhat loosely (see image 2) and the muscles cannot support proper movement. Typically, pets are not born with hip dysplasia, but it can later develop. Hip dysplasia may affect one or both hips.

Normal canine hips

Canine with bilateral hip dysplasia

Who does it affect? No pet is immune from hip dysplasia. All breeds of cats and dogs can get it, however dogs of larger breeds and cats with larger bones are more susceptible.

Can my pet get hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is believed to be genetic and is more common amongst large dog breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, and Golden Retrievers. Cats have much lower rates of hip dysplasia and it is more difficult to recognize symptoms because they weigh much less thus putting less weight on the joints. Pets with hip dysplasia in their genetic lineage are more likely to experience severe symptoms if they are obese, and also for puppies that experience rapid growth spurts.

How is it diagnosed? One symptom of hip dysplasia is pain during or after exercise. Hip dysplasia is diagnosed by a veterinarian by looking at x-rays of the hip joints. They may also be able to feel looseness in the joint. Typically, results of a hip dysplasia test are very straight forward.

How is it treated? Surgery for hip dysplasia may require a total hip replacement, or a type of joint reconstruction surgery.

How much does it cost? Total costs including x-rays, medication, and surgery can cost anywhere from $2,000 up to over $7,000.

*Trupanion has optional pet insurance coverage for hip dysplasia that pays for 90% of the actual bill after deductible has been applied.

*Photos courtesy Wikipedia

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5 Responses to Hip Dysplasia: What is it?

  1. Tina says:

    What if your pet has hip dysplasia but we don’t know it when we sign up. I questioned my vet when I saw our dog sitting kind of funny and he said she may eventually have problems but none to worry about at this time. If we get insurance and years done the road, we find out she has problems, will it still be covered?

  2. Stacy K says:

    With Trupanion, if your pet has not shown symptoms of hip dysplasia and you sign up for pet insurance with hip dysplasia coverage (which can only be added before your pet turns 1 year old) then it will be covered.

  3. Doug Collins says:

    Very insightful. Thanks for the information.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I spoke with a Trupanion representative a few moments ago who informed me that canine hip dysplasia is not covered in NY state (based on NY state regulatory approval?). Therefore, coverage is not available at all in this case. Is this correct? I am not clear on why other companies in NY offer this coverage.

    Also, is it only available for dogs 1 Year old and younger?


    • Stacy says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      Our original policy includes the option for hip dysplasia coverage for pets enrolled before their first birthday. We have recently rolled out to *most* regions an optional benefits package which includes coverage for alternative therapies and hip dysplasia coverage for pets of all ages. Because this is such a new option, it must become approved by each state/region before we can offer it. Unfortunately, the status of the optional benefits package in the state of New York is still pending approval. What this currently means for you is that hip dysplasia coverage can only be added if your pet is under 1 year of age.
      I don’t have any clue as to when the optional benefits will become approved in NY but my guess is most likely sometime in the first half of this year.

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