Hip Dysplasia in French Bulldogs

Hip dysplasia is a skeletal disorder in which the ball and socket joint of the hip isn't formed correctly. If left untreated, it can result in limited activity, pain, and the development of hip arthritis.

~4 minute read
last updated November 04, 2019

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is degenerative skeletal disorder in which the ball and socket joint of the hip isn’t formed correctly. It can cause your Frenchie a ton of pain and make it really hard for them to walk without a limp. Left untreated, it can result in limited activity, pain, and the development of hip arthritis.

There is often a large genetic factor in hip dysplasia, but it can also be caused by being overweight, trauma to the hips, or excessive strain on the hip joints as a puppy.

It’s also important to note that it’s not possible to completely cure hip dysplasia, meaning most treatment is based around improving quality-of-life by alleviating symptoms. It being degenerative means the condition will likely get worse over a lifetime, but with proper medical treatment, you can slow down the degeneration of the hip joint.

Luckily you can minimize the chances of your Frenchie developing hip dysplasia by not letting them jump off high objects such as beds, avoid over-exercising, maintain a healthy weight, and make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

Think your Frenchie might have hip dysplasia? The symptoms are pretty hard to miss…

  • Decreased activity and range of motion
  • Inability to climb stairs, jump, or run
  • Shaking of the back leg. Weakness.
  • Difficulty standing up or slow to rise
  • “Bunny hopping” or swaying while walking
  • Hip pain or sensitivity
  • A narrow stance
  • Stiffness
  • Grinding or clicking sound/feeling from hip joint during movement

As always, if you notice your Frenchie develop any of these symptoms, be sure to take them to the vet ASAP.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

Some dogs will have a genetic predisposition to hip looseness or laxity which can increase the rate of progression of the disorder.

Other environmental factors can contribute to the development and progression of hip dysplasia such as excessive growth, exercise, obesity, and other nutritional factors.

If you are concerned that your French Bulldog may be suffering from hip dysplasia, please consult with your veterinarian for a further evaluation. Your vet will usually perform an x-ray and physical examination to determine the degree and severity of the hip dysplasia.

Preventing Hip Dysplasia

You know how they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?

Well, that is certainly true when it comes to hip dysplasia in French Bulldogs. Hip dysplasia is degenerative and causes irreversible damage to the hip joints.

Here are a few ways you can minimize the chances of your Frenchie developing hip dysplasia:

  • Regular exercise
  • Feed them a high-quality diet and maintain a healthy weight
  • Refrain from jumping and landing on hind legs (i.e. holding a ball and having them jump for it)
  • Supplements such as vitamin C and E. As always, ask your veterinarian before starting any supplement regimens.
  • Avoid over-exercising as a puppy. Keep exercise gentle and low impact
  • Get regular checkups at the vet.

Treating Hip Dysplasia

An early diagnosis is important when treating hip dysplasia in order to reduce the amount of damage and arthritis caused by hip dysplasia.

Physical therapy, weight control, and diet are great non-surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia. Physiotherapy and swimming can help build the muscles around the affected area without putting strain on the joint.

If your French Bulldog is suffering from hip dysplasia, fortunately, there are many treatment options available.

Treatment Options

  • Physical therapy
  • Diet and weight control
  • Physiotherapy and swimming
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Joint fluid modifiers

It’s also crucial that you keep your French Bulldog a healthy weight to keep as much pressure off the joint as possible. With a correct diet, you’ll be able to minimize any weight gain by offsetting their diet appropriately to their new activity level during recovery.

In more severe cases, surgery may be required to restore original function and reduce discomfort. If deemed necessary, there are a couple surgical procedures that your vet may recommend.

4 Types of Hip Dysplasia Surgery

The average cost of hip dysplasia surgery in French Bulldogs can range from $1,700 - $4,700.

1. Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)

This procedure is usually performed when a puppy is between 10 and 18 weeks old. It consists of closing of a growth plate at the bottom of the pelvis, which has consistently shown positive evidence for providing normal pain free hip function.

It requires early diagnosis of hip dysplasia.

2. Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

This is a surgery option for dogs that are less than 8-10 months of age with hip dysplasia.

It consists of cutting the pelvic bone in two or three places to improve the stability of the joint. Recent advancements in medical technology mean that this surgery is even less invasive than before, and usually only requires two cuts in the bone.

3. Total Hip Replacement (THR)

If the aforementioned surgical procedures aren’t able to successfully treat the hip dysplasia in your French Bulldog, a total hip replacement is the next option.

Fortunately, it has shown positive results in providing a pain-free function in dogs with hip dysplasia, and an artificial hip joint provides a more natural range of motion and limb function in Frenchies with hip dysplasia.

Your dog must be at least a year old before undergoing this operation.

4. Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

This surgical option is usually the last resort for treating hip dysplasia.

This procedure consists of removing the ball of the joint to reduce pain and further damage to the joint cartilage and soft tissues of the joint. This will create a “false joint” that transfers the pressure from the leg to the pelvis.

It can be done at any age and can provide enough comfort without the use of anti-inflammatory pain medication.


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