The Benefits of Penn Hip Testing for Your Dog

By: Dr. Honorata Lenk

Penn Hip is an x-ray technique developed by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for early screening of dogs for degenerative joint disease (DJD) and osteoarthritis (OA).

The study consists of a set of three x-rays, which can be done on puppies as early as 16 weeks of age. In reviewing the x-rays, specially trained radiologists look at the hip joint, which is a ball-and-socket joint, to check for laxity, or “looseness” of the hip joint.

How tight the ball sits in the socket is a great predictor of developing degenerative joint disease later in life. Being able to identify puppies with “looser” hips helps the veterinarians formulate a diet/supplement/exercise plan to help slow down the progression of the disease.

This technique is often used in breeding programs for selection of healthier individuals. All puppies, though, are encouraged to get screened.

Obtaining the x-rays does require some degree of sedation. It can be done as a stand-alone procedure, or at the same time as a spay or a neuter appointment.