Hip Dysplasia

Full Title: Hip Dysplasia

Author: Monica Webber-Green

Date of Publication: January 1, 2017

PDF: http://petmassage.com/wp-content/uploads/Hip-Dysplasia-by-Monica-Webber-Green-by-2014-02-28.pdf

Research Paper Text:

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition often seen in larger breed dogs and is characterized by the femur bone not sitting snuggly into the hip socket. The condition can appear in smaller dogs as well, but is most prevalent in larger breeds. It is a painful condition, worsened if the dog is overweight, and often becomes arthritic over time. Signs of hip dysplasia may not be seen until the dog is older, but prominent symptoms include stiffness and limping. A dog with HD may also be seen to have difficulty with their gait and using stairs. You may see the dog struggle while trying to get up from a lying position.

Responsible breeders try to diminish the occurrence of the condition, and often warrant against it. Unfortunately, in spite of the efforts, the condition is still quite common. My experience with my own dog is that she responds well to massage. This is likely due to: increased circulation of fluids and the loosening of surrounding muscles and tendons. My dog seems to experience a reduction in inflammation and pain after massage. She also responds well to acupressure around the joint itself.

According to Dr. Schoen (1995) “massage and Acupressure assist to alleviate pain for the dog who suffers from hip dysplasia. The acupressure points for focus are BL48 (Bladder) and GB 2930 (Gall Bladder),” (p. 149). The bladder and gall bladder, as well as the kidneys are important to bone development, which is why they are considered for acupressure. Dr. Schoen contends that Western Science has determined these pressure points to be microtubules located beneath the skin, which contain nerves and blood vessels. Massage or pressure stimulates sensory nerve endings which promote healing by releasing endorphins. It also releases adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) which is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. (p. 132-3). Cheryl Schwartz (1996) is a foremost authority of the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for animals. She says that the ancient tradition of TCM considers “Hip Dysplasia a form of bony bi,” (p.338). This is an obstruction in the circulation leading to extra bone formation or spurs, stagnation, severe pain and drastic curtailment of motion. She states that treatment is aimed at relieving pain by breaking up the stagnation and stimulating circulation; which normalizes bone remodeling and hinders further deterioration, (p. 339).

Location for Treatment

“Find the hip joint by having the animal lie on her side, then flex the leg by picking it up at the foot. The hip joint can be seen as the place where the top of the leg joins the pelvis. There is normally a lot of muscle surrounding the hip joint, so keep flexing the leg until you can locate the hip joint, so keep flexing the leg until you can locate the hip joint. If the animal is in pain, try locating the hip on a pain-free animal first. Once the hip joint is located, the points lie in depressions in front of and behind the hip socket. Hold the points or use small circular motions.” (Schwartz, 1996, p. 342). I have found this to be a very effective method, producing excellent results with my own dog.

According to Jonathan Rudinger, (2012), PetMassage trademarked techniques to consider for treatment would be: Frictioning for warmth, Compression, Joint Mobilization, Stretching, Positional Release, Still Holding, and Scratching, (p. 92-103). In my own practice, I have experienced that when my dog is having a particularly bad day; Mr. Rudinger’s trademarked Positional Release and Compression are the most effective strategies to use. These work best
because they are non-evasive, so they do not add to the pain; and they help the body use its own energy for further healing and relief. I tend to hold my hands over the 3 acupressure points associated with the hip as described above. When doing this, I can actually feel the subtle movements within the fascia, so I know something is happening. Frictioning is also effective, as it also increases the flow of fluids and adds warmth to the area.

One must always exercise caution when working with a dog who suffers from hip dysplasia or arthritis. Indeed, any dog with chronic or acute pain should be handled with great skill and care. As always, you must take your cues from the dog you are massaging. When a dog is in your hands, watch carefully for signs of agitation and pain, and modify your strokes as necessary. You will see the benefits that your dog can feel!


  • Kainer, R.A., DVM & McCracken T.O. (2003). Dog Anatomy, A Colouring Atlas Jackson, WY: Teton NewMedia.
  • Proctor, A., Schoen, A.M., DVM. (1995). Love, Miracles and Animal Healing. NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Rudinger, J. (2012). Art and Essence of Canine Massage. Toledo, Oh: PetMassage Books.
  • Schwartz, C, DVM. (1996). Four Paws, Five Directions. NY: Crown Publishing.

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