The unfortunate answer to this question is yes, small dogs can get hip dysplasia. While it’s certainly more common in large and giant breed dogs, certain breeds of small and medium sized dogs are also prone to developing the disease.
In ascending order from most affected (Pugs) to least affected (Tibetan Terrier)
Small dogs that are affected by hip dysplasia include:
- Norfolk Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Shih Tzu
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- West Highland White Terrier
- Boston Terrier
- Tibetan Spaniel
- American Eskimo
- Cairn Terrior
- Coton De Tulear
- Bichon Frise
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Lhasa Opso
- Tibetan Terrier
Can Hip Dysplasia Be Prevented?
Hip dysplasia is thought of as a genetic disease caused by a polygenic trait, meaning that more than one pair of genes is involved. Because genetics play a part in the development of hip dysplasia, unfortunately it’s not possible to 100% guarantee your dog won’t develop the disease. There are currently no genetic tests for this disorder, however there are other factors that contribute to it.
The good news is, even if your dog is predisposed to hip dysplasia, there are lots of things you can do to lessen the chances that this disease will greatly impact their quality of life. These include to:
Feed a Proper Diet
It’s important to feed puppies a diet that will satisfy their special nutrition requirements, while ensuring slow and steady growth that allows their joints to develop properly. Rapid weight gain in puppies can place more stress on the hips, and diets that lack the proper balance of calcium and phosphorous also have a negative impact on bone development. A proper diet also ensures your dog won’t become overweight, which is one of the best things you can do to avoid hip dysplasia and joint problems in general, as excess weight puts excess strain on the joints. Talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s unique nutritional needs, ensuring you understand what and how much to feed through puppyhood and beyond
Ensure Proper Exercise
During puppyhood and adolescence, exercise is certainly important for many reasons, including to help strengthen your dog’s leg and pelvic muscles, which in turn increases the stability of the hip joint (a plus for helping avoid hip dysplasia). But inappropriate exercise during this period of rapid growth – such as too much jumping, too early access to stairs, etc. – can actually exacerbate the problem. Give your dog daily exercise while limiting activities that place excess stress on the joints, such as jumping to catch balls or Frisbees, jumping from high surfaces, or running up and down stairs.
Provide a Quality Joint Supplement
It’s never too early to give your dog a joint supplement, as they actually provide the most benefits before symptoms appear. Quality joint supplements are an essential component of canine joint care, providing nutrients to keep cartilage and joints strong and flexible, and keep inflammation down. Chondroprotectors, such as Glucosamine HCL, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Hyaluronic Acid aid in the lubrication and general health support of joints. There are also natural anti-inflammatory supplements out there to help keep painful inflammation of the joints at bay. A combination of GlycanAid HA and Flexerna Omega will keep your dog’s joints happy and healthy.
While there is no guarantee your small dog won’t develop hip dysplasia, following the guidelines above will increase their chances that the disease will have a hugely negative impact on their quality of life.