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Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery - Different Options

If your dog is suffering from painful hip dysplasia there are various surgery options that could help to get your pup moving comfortably again. This post explores some of the available treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs.

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Your pup’s hip joints are a natural ball and socket system that should function smoothly together. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, the ball and socket fail to develop or function as they should. Instead of working together smoothly, the two parts grind and rub together, leading to a gradual breakdown and eventual loss of normal function. As you can imagine, this condition is painful and if not treated, can drastically reduce quality of life for your dog.

Causes of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is generally hereditary, genetics being the leading contributor to the development of the condition in dogs, especially in larger breeds. Hip dysplasia in dogs typically continues to become worse with age, and will often affect both hips (bilateral). The pain and other symptoms of this condition may be exacerbated by osteoarthritis in older dogs.

Though the condition is inherited, some factors can amplify the genetic predisposition to the condition and increase the risk that it will develop, such as improper weight and nutrition, excessive growth rate and types of exercise. Obesity can aggravate a pre-existing condition or even be a contributing factor in the development of hip dysplasia due to abnormal stress put on the joints by excess weight.

Dog Breeds With a High Risk of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition, often seen in giant or large breed dogs, however, it can also affect smaller breeds. Some breeds that are commonly affected include mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers and bulldogs. Smaller breeds that can be susceptible to hip dysplasia include French bulldogs and pugs.

Because diet and exercise can play a role in the development of hip dysplasia it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian regarding the right amount of daily exercise for your dog and what their ideal diet should contain.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia typically begins to develop in puppies under a year old, but does not become apparent until the dog reaches their middle to senior years. If you are concerned that your pup may be feeling the pain of hip dysplasia watch for the following signs: 

  • Reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs
  • Back legs are stiff when walking or running
  • Difficulties rising from a resting position
  • Loss of muscle tone in back legs
  • Grating or grinding in the joint when moving
  • Hind end lameness
  • Poor range of motion
  • Running with a bunny hop

If your pooch is showing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination for your pet.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

Even during routine annual examinations, your veterinarian will check your dog for signs of hip dysplasia by moving your pup’s hind legs to help detect any grinding, painful sensations or reduced range of motion in the joint. If your vet suspects that your pet could have hip dysplasia they may recommend blood tests to look for signs of inflammation.

Your vet may also request that you provide a health history of your pup including a detailed list of symptoms and any injuries that may have caused them. Knowing your pet’s lineage can also be helpful in the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.

If hip dysplasia is suspected X-rays may be recommended to determine the severity of the condition and to help chart a course of action for treatment.

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Common treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia can range from changes to lifestyle or diet to surgery. Your vet will work with you to determine the best treatment for your pet and will be able to outline the pros and cons of each treatment option.

Below are three of the most common types of hip dysplasia surgery for dogs.

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

Dogs of any age can benefit from FHO surgery. This surgical treatment for hip dysplasia entails removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, allowing the body to create a “false” joint. FHO can help to decrease the discomfort related to hip dysplasia, although normal hip function is unlikely to be restored. 

After FHO surgery, your dog could need to remain in hospital for anywhere between several hours and several days, depending on their overall health, the surgery and other factors. It will be necessary for your pet to avoid strenuous physical activity for about 30 days after surgery. Most dogs will completely recover about six weeks following the operation and should be able to resume physical activity.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

Typically performed on dogs younger than 10 months old, this surgery involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and rotating the individual segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint. 

Following this surgery, it will be several weeks before your dog will be able to walk comfortably, and physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy) will likely be necessary for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within four weeks). Most dogs will recover from DPO or TPO surgery within 4 - 6 weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

When it comes to restoring full function to dogs suffering from hip dysplasia total hip replacement (THR) is often the first and most effective treatment option. THR involves using plastic and metal implants to replace your pup's entire hip joint. In many cases, THR can restore your pup's normal hip function and eliminate most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.

That said, THP surgery is a drastic option and the most expensive, typically taken if your pet is in considerable pain and nearly completely immobile. The artificial components must be custom-made for your dog and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons.

THR surgery generally takes between 2 - 3 hours to complete, and your pet will likely need to be hospitalized for 1 - 3 days following surgery. To ensure proper healing, expect a 12-week recovery period. Even if hip dysplasia is evident in both of your dog's hips this surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, allowing a 3 - 6 month gap between procedures.

How Much Hip Dysplasia Surgery Costs

The cost of surgery for dogs with hip dysplasia varies widely across the country, and even between hospitals relatively close to one another.

Factors that play a role in the cost of this therapeutic surgery include the size of your dog, their overall health status, what bloodwork is required, the procedure being performed, components required, cost of anesthesia, what post-surgical care and medications are required and more.

If you are concerned about how much your pet's surgery will cost, ask your veterinary surgeon for a detailed estimate. This will give you the most accurate estimate and allow you to ask any questions you may have.

How Your Veterinarian Can Help You

A diagnosis of hip dysplasia in your dog can be heart-wrenching. This serious condition is very painful for your pet but can also cause financial stress for you since surgical options can be expensive.

If you are facing stressful decisions regarding your dog's treatment for hip dysplasia speak openly and honestly with your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to recommend an option or combination of treatments within your budget that can help to reduce your pet's hip pain and improve hip function.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your dog been diagnosed with hip dysplasia? Contact our Tucson specialty vets today to book a consultation for your dog. Our Veterinary Surgeon performs advanced surgery while putting your pet’s safety and comfort at the forefront. 

Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery - Different Options

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