Canine Rehabilitation for Hip Dysplasia

June 30, 2021 | ​​​​​​​

Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic issue affecting canines. It is a condition that occurs in your dog’s hip where the socket and ball joint are malformed before birth. It happens where the two parts do not fit as they should, resulting in grinding and rubbing. In the long run, this may lead to painful joint arthritis and crippling lameness. 


Experts say that it is mostly genetic and is also sometimes worsened by environmental factors. Moreover, it does not seem to be gender-inclined, although it does affect some breeds more than others.


Canine Hip Dysplasia Rehabilitation Goals

Rehabilitation techniques play a vital role in your dog’s hip dysplasia treatment. Thus, they complement conventional surgical and medical treatments. However, proper pain management controls must be in place before starting this rehabilitation process. The rehabilitation goals include:


  • Maintaining and building musculature in your canine’s hind limbs


  • Promoting proper motion in the hip joints with the goal of reducing pain


  • Promotion of your dog’s cardiovascular wellness


  • Pain management


  • Developing and maintaining overall strength


Types of Canine Hip Dysplasia Rehabilitation Techniques

A qualified vet nurse can use various methods to perform the rehabilitation. This can be done at home or a canine rehabilitation facility. Here are some of the techniques:


Soft Tissue Massage

According to experts, soft tissue massage is effective in reducing muscular tension and myofascial pain. Depending on your canine patient’s compliance, the vet nurse applies this technique for five to 10 minutes during the rehab therapy appointment.

This involves short and long massage strokes over the hamstring muscles, gluteal, quadriceps, and spine. This technique also enhances proprioception and offers sensory stimulation. Moreover, it improves blood circulation to the desired area and relaxes the tissues.



Thermotherapy involves placing a moist heat pack wrapped in an insulating material directly to the affected area. The therapy usually lasts for about five to 15 minutes. This method results in vasodilation and increased blood flow.


Passing Range of Motion Therapy

Also known as PROM, this exercise involves passively moving the patient’s joint to a point where there is natural resistance. The patient lies in lateral recumbency as the vet supports the limb. This therapy targets the stifle, tarsus, and hip. It also increases blood flow and promotes proprioception.


Therapeutic Laser

When focused on the hip areas, cold laser therapy reduces pain, increases healing, and stimulates blood flow.


Active Range of Motion Therapy

Unlike in PROM therapy, the patient is responsible for actively making the motions within their comfort range. This is important because it promotes muscle strength in addition to the benefits of PROM therapy. These exercises include sitting and standing or walking around weaved cones.


Underwater Treadmill Therapy

This hydrotherapy allows the dog to support its weight in water.  The water allows for buoyancy and helps a dog move with less stress to joints.  It is also supportive in nature, giving hydrostatic assistance.


For more information about canine rehabilitation for hip dysplasia, visit Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation Center at our office in St. Petersburg, Florida. You can also call 727-677-9500 to book an appointment.

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