hip dysplasia or luxating patellasOkay, so maybe it’s not really an age-old question; but any dog owner who has been up at 1 AM Googling why their pooch is limping has probably pondered the difference between the two conditions: Hip dysplasia or luxating patella?

So what, then, is the difference? Let New Haven Pet Hospital fill you in.

Hip Dysplasia or Luxating Patellas:  Different Parts

The main thing that differentiates hip dysplasia or luxating patellas is the fact that they affect totally different joints.

Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket joint of the hip does not form appropriately. This results in a lax (loose) joint that can be quite painful and limit mobility. Hip dysplasia occurs during development and has a largely genetic component.

Hip dysplasia can occur in any breed, but we see it most often in large dogs. It can affect one or both hips.

Luxating patellas, on the other hand, involve the knee (stifle) joint. The patella or kneecap in these pets likes to pop to the inside (a medial luxation) or outside (a lateral luxation) of the groove it is supposed to reside in.

Patellar luxation is most commonly diagnosed in small breed dogs, but can be seen in any breed. One or both knees can have a luxating patella.

Not So Different, You and I

While hip dysplasia and patellar luxations aren’t the same problem by any stretch, they do bear a lot of similarities. Both conditions:

  • Result in pain and abnormal use of one or both rear limbs
  • Lead to the development of osteoarthritis in the affected joint
  • Are a problem related to overall conformation and development
  • Can result in very mild or very severe problems
  • Often are symptomatic early in life
  • Worsen with weight gain and age
  • May need surgery to correct
  • Can benefit from weight management, joint support, and strengthening
  • May require pain management

Interestingly enough, because the knee relies on good alignment to function properly, many dogs with hip dysplasia also have patellar luxations.

There are many reasons that a dog might limp on a rear limb. Sometimes we can arrive at a diagnosis by watching your pet move and completing a basic orthopedic exam. Other times further diagnostics such as radiographs (X-rays) must be performed. Either way, don’t let your pet be in pain! If your dog is limping, it is important that we get to the bottom of the cause. Call us right away so we can get started.