Bowral Veterinary Hospital has now been certified and can offer you a new radiography technique to further help your pets in the fight against hip dysplasia. 


What is PennHIP? 

PennHIP stand for Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. It is a technique of radiographing animals' hips developed at the University of Pennsylvania to determine degree of laxity (how loose they are). It has been used for over 20 years to measure hip laxity and to help predict the possible development of hip dysplasia in dogs. 

Image result for hip dysplasia


What does the score tell you? 

The Distraction Index (Score) can better predict a dog’s chances of developing osteoarthritis later in life. It can also better predict the chances of a dog passing hip dysplasia through to offspring. The distraction index can be compared to the breed averages, to help make breeding decisions if required. These results have been published in multiple peer reviewed studies over the last few decades and have been shown to have a much higher level of accuracy in predicting hip dysplasia than any other technique available. 

With early identification of dogs that are at risk, preventative measures can be taken to try and minimse the clinical effects and pain that your dog may experience. Early identifcation in breeding dogs will help choose which dogs are best to continue as part of a breeding program. 


Why is it different to regular hip extended xrays? 

Ventrodorsal (VD) Hip extended radiographs still have a place in veterinary practice. Most breed societies still use this view as the standard for measuring hip laxity in dogs and giving a dog a score. The PennHIP technique still uses this view as one part of the exam. The other two views compress the hips into the acetabulum (hip socket) then measure the difference in movement when the hips are distracted (pulled out from the socket). 

This change in position is a more accurate way of measuring laxity in the joint compared to the traditional view, which can sometimes make hip joints appear tighter than they actually are. 

The PennHIP procedure has strict quality control guidelines to ensure results are accurate. All veterinarians taking the radiographs need to be certified and all radiographs must be assessed through one central location, eliminating the large variability obtained with scoring hips in the traditional manner. 


What age can it be performed? 


The PennHIP procedure may be performed at 16 weeks old onwards. Multiple studies have shown consistency of results as the animal ages, meaning predictions can be made from a much earlier age compared to the traditional view which must be between 1-2 years old. 

What happens to the dog during the PennHIP procedure? 
It is critical to ensure that all the muscles surrounding the hips are relaxed so as we can obtain a true reading of how loose they are. To obtain this, a light general anaesthesia is required. 

The first view is the VD extended hip view, the view traditionally used to grade hip dysplasia. In this view the legs are extended straight out behind the dog. The second view places the legs in a neutral position (a similar position to how the dog would stand, except with the legs pointing in the air), with the femoral heads pushed into the joint. The third view involves a similar stance with the femoral heads around the outside of a special device which shows how far the femoral heads can move. 

The procedure is not painful to the dog and will not “stretch” the joint or cause any damage. It has been performed on hundreds of thousands of patients and is completely safe. 


How much will it cost? 

The procedure can be done at the same time as another anaesthetic, such as a castration or spey. Please call reception on Ph 02 4861 1444 to discuss costs.  


Where can I get more information? 
For more information, you can visit:

For access to journal articles related to the process: