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When To Put A Dog Down With Hip Dysplasia

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Many dogs can be affected by a condition called hip dysplasia. This can often be offset with age or inherited through different breeds, and can be very painful for some dogs, as their legs lose mobility and their range of motion.

When to put a dog down with hip dysplasia: a difficult decision

Having a dog with hip dysplasia can be heartbreaking. Watching your furry best friend get older is never fun.

All of a sudden, you can look at your dog and realize they do not want to fetch as much, do not like as much attention, and have started to go gray around the mouth and face. 

But dogs are too pure for this world, and their time on earth is often limited. As your dog gets older, they may start to lose mobility in their legs and develop hip dysplasia or normal bodily functions.

So, how do you know when enough is enough and when is the right time to put down a dog with hip dysplasia?

This is why we are here. We can help guide you in this difficult decision and help you understand what hip dysplasia is, how it affects our furry friends, and when it is best to put down your canine companion.

What is hip dysplasia? 

Firstly, we will talk about what hip dysplasia actually is and how it can affect your doggie’s life. Many dogs can suffer from hip dysplasia, and it does not discriminate between breeds.

However, some larger breeds are more affected by this common health issue, as their legs and joints can become weaker as they age. 

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition where the ball and socket of the joint do not fit correctly, and instead, it will grind and rub or become inflamed instead of moving smoothly.

This will then deteriorate the joints over time and eventually cause a loss of mobility and function in those joints. 

The problem with hip dysplasia is that it can cause pain in the legs whenever a dog moves, which can, therefore, drastically affect their quality of life, which is very hard for both the dog and the owner to experience.

This is why it is important to be a responsible pet owner and do what is best for the dog. Sometimes, this means having to make the decision to put down or euthanize your dog, as difficult as it may be. 

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs? 

Hip dysplasia is actually very common in dogs and can be caused by a variety of contributing factors. For most dogs, hip dysplasia can be just a result of genetics.

Some breeds of dogs, such as the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, or Great Dane, are more genetically inclined to develop hip dysplasia, and it is usually brought on later in life as the dogs become old. 

In other cases, excessive growth rates, improper weight, and nutrition, or excessive exercise when the dog is too young can create a predisposition to hip dysplasia and can increase the risk of your dog developing this condition. 

This is why it is vital that puppies are fed the right food for their breed so that they do not grow too quickly and damage their joints and bones. This helps the joints develop slowly, without strain, and therefore reduces the risk of hip dysplasia later in life. 

Too much exercise or too little exercise can also lead to hip dysplasia, as obesity will put a lot of strain on the joints, whereas over-exercising your dog can stress the joints too much, too.

It is for this reason that, as a dog owner, you should research your dog breed’s specific needs so that they have the proper diet, exercise, and care for their wellbeing. 

It should be noted that hip dysplasia is not just for older dogs; some breeds can develop this condition very early in life and even as puppies. This would be down to genetics, poor care, or a natural inflammation of the joints. 

Signs your dog has hip dysplasia

Dog with hip dysplasia

If you are worried that your dog has hip dysplasia, or want to know what signs to look out for, then we have a few symptoms that may signify your dog is suffering from this condition. The main telltale signs to watch for are:

  • Lameness in the hind legs
  • Decreased range of motion and movement
  • Less of an interest in activity or movement 
  • Difficulty in running, jumping up, or climbing
  • Loss of muscle mass in thighs
  • Stiffness
  • Limping 
  • Improper gait
  • Signs of being in pain

If you notice any of these in your pet, then it may be time to take them to the veterinarian so that they can perform an examination and diagnose the hip dysplasia. They will then be able to offer the best form of treatment for your furry friend. 

Sometimes, hip dysplasia is not the end of the world, and it does not mean that your dog has come to the end of their lifespan either.

In some cases, the veterinarian may be able to advise a better diet, joint supplements, exercise changes, or physical therapy for your canine companion! 

In other cases, hip dysplasia can make dogs depressed and seriously reduce their well-being and quality of life.

It is in these situations that sometimes it is more humane to euthanize the dog and free them of any pain and suffering. 

When to put a dog down with hip dysplasia?

It is a very tough and difficult decision to make. Your dog becomes part of the family and your best friend, so the thought of putting them down can be a hard pill to swallow. Trust me; I’ve been there.

What can be even more difficult, though, is watching your furry friend suffer through the pain and carry on living without proper mobility or pride. 

My first dog, Millie, was a lovely Labrador Retriever who was very elderly at 14 years old. It was at this point that one day her legs stopped working, and she lay in bed without the strength to move or get up for food or water.

We realized that this was no life for a dog that used to love running, jumping up, and giving us lots of love and affection. She became sad, and it was clear she was ready to leave us.

In these cases, it is more humane and better for the dog to euthanize them. However, this is a decision that should be made with the assistance of your veterinarian, as there are lots of different things that you should consider first.  

Things to consider when deciding when to put a dog down

When deciding whether to put your dog down, there are a few things that you have to think about first. The most important consideration is whether your dog is happy or not.

Suffering from hip dysplasia can seriously impact a dog’s well-being and quality of life, and you may want to keep your dog around forever because you love them, but this is no life for a dog. 

If you are unsure whether hip dysplasia is affecting your dog’s quality of life, then there are a few signs that you may want to look out for.

For instance, some dogs may become incontinent as they cannot get up or make it outside in time before they need to relieve themselves. This can be very shameful and distressing for the dog.

In other cases, dogs may refuse food or water or may simply not want to get up and carry themselves to have food or water because of the pain in their legs and joints.

If your dog cannot move their legs and is dragging them on the floor, then the hip dysplasia has seriously impacted their mobility, and they may be in a lot of pain. 

In these situations, it can be too late for surgical intervention. In addition, when some dogs are diagnosed with hip dysplasia, they can be very old, and surgery is too dangerous of an option for them. 

For some pet owners, sadly, surgery is also not an option as a canine hip replacement can cost thousands of dollars.

It is in these worse-case scenarios that humane euthanasia can be the best course of action for those doggies in pain and suffering. However, it is an incredibly hard decision that will not be an easy one to make. 

Should you let your dog pass away naturally?

Some owners believe that they should wait and let nature take its course. This is not recommended at all.

Your dog can be lying, unable to move, in severe pain for days, weeks, or even months before they pass away naturally, which is an awful fate.

In particular, if you have been advised by the veterinarian that your dog will not last very long in its condition, then it is far more humane to say goodbye, hug your pet tightly, and free them from any pain and suffering. 

Leaving your dog to pass away naturally is a painstakingly awful process to watch happen, and it is entirely unfair to the dogs themselves. Your dog has taken care of you and loved you for all of these years; it is time for you to return the favor. 

When you should put a dog down with hip dysplasia

If a dog is suffering badly from hip dysplasia, then it is kinder to put down the dog or euthanize the animal before the condition worsens or they are in pain daily.

Dogs with hip dysplasia can reach a point where they are incontinent, unable to eat, unable to move, and unhappy. 

This is not the life that your dog deserves. 

It is in these situations that you should make an informed decision, along with the veterinarian, to euthanize your canine companion and let them pass on. 

Can a dog live happily with hip dysplasia?

The good news is that developing hip dysplasia does not always mean that your dog has a time limit or a death sentence. Some dogs with hip dysplasia can live full and happy lives for many years to come. 

If you notice that your dog is beginning to struggle with running, jumping, or climbing up onto the couch, then you can manage this with medication or a few changes in your dog’s lifestyle.

For instance, some dogs can take joint supplements to prevent the symptoms of hip dysplasia and may do better with less exercise or strenuous activity. With a few of these protocols in place, your dog can lead a long, happy life. 

However, if your dog reaches the point where they cannot live a normal life, whereas they are unable to run, walk or enjoy normal day-to-day activities, then the time may have come to think about ending its suffering. 

How long do dogs live with hip dysplasia?

As previously mentioned, your dog getting diagnosed with hip dysplasia does not necessarily mean that it has reached the end of its life.

With proper management, medication, and veterinary assistance, dogs with hip dysplasia can live for many years. 

Do I have to put my dog down if they get hip dysplasia?

No, you do not have to put your dog down if they have hip dysplasia, as long as you treat the issue and support and manage the condition.

But, if your dog is very poorly depressed and their quality of life is massively reduced, then it may be time to talk about euthanizing your dog with the veterinarian. 

How can I help my dog with hip dysplasia?

If your dog has hip dysplasia, then there are a few things that you can do to help reduce the symptoms or prevent the condition from worsening.

For instance, if your dog is overweight, reducing their food and keeping them on a strict diet can reduce the stress and weight on the hips.

You can also put your dog through physical therapy, such as hydrotherapy, where dogs can move in water, as this reduces the pain and inflammation of the joints.

In addition to this, the veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help ease the pain of hip dysplasia and reduce inflammation of the joints themselves. 

What are the home treatments for hip dysplasia?

If you are unable to provide physiotherapy for your dog, then you can implement some therapeutic remedies at home. For instance, a warm bath can help soothe your dog’s joints, especially when the weather is cold. 

Hydrotherapy is also incredibly effective in reducing inflammation and improving the motion of the legs.

To do this, you could take your dog swimming, buy a deep paddling pool for them, or hold them up in the water, such as in the sea, to soothe the joints. 

You can also purchase heat packs to calm any inflamed joints and the hips or purchase joint supplements for your dog’s well-being.

Should I exercise my dog with hip dysplasia?

Exercise can be good for your dog if they have hip dysplasia. However, it should not be strenuous. Walking is fine for your dog, but it should not be on hard surfaces as this can put a strain on the joints. 

They should also be kept leashed as running, jumping, and climbing can be difficult and painful and can put stress on the hips.

Always take care, and ask your veterinarian for the best course of action and exercise for your furry friend. 


To conclude, your dog having hip dysplasia is not always a death sentence. Hip dysplasia can be treated with medication, a good diet and exercise, and a lot of care.

However, hip dysplasia can worsen with age, become very painful, and make life hard for our little canine companions.

If your dog does have very bad hip dysplasia and no quality of life, then the humane and kindest thing to do is put them down and let them pass on. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.