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Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease that can cause lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  It can occur in both dogs and cats. 

The normal hip joint is a "ball-and-socket" joint, with the femoral head (ball) fitting tightly into the acetabulum (socket) of the pelvis.  If this joint is not a good fit, the femoral head can glide in and out of the acetabulum, causing pain and eventually arthritis.  This condition may become apparent starting at 5 or 6 months of age, and can range from mild to severe.

In order to decrease the risk of hip dysplasia in your pet, be sure that his parents have been specifically selected and shown to be free of the disease by radiographs.  Second, be sure to feed a well-balanced and high-quality food selected for his size and breed, as recommended by your veterinarian.  Finally, be sure to avoid overfeeding, as this has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of hip dysplasia.