Hip dysplasia is a painful condition that can affect any breed of dog, and it typically develops when they reach their senior years. In this post, our Rancho Cucamonga vets discuss the surgery used to treat hip dysplasia in dogs, what you need to know about it, and how it can help your pup feel more comfortable.
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is a fairly common condition seen in certain breeds of dog, such as German Shepherds, but it can affect any type of dog.
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 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 cause hip dysplasia by putting abnormal stress on the dog’s joints.
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:
- Hind end lameness
- Poor range of motion
- Running with a bunny hop
- 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
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 may 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 could 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 discuss in detail the pros and cons of each treatment option.
Below are the three most common types of hip dysplasia surgery for dogs, along with approximate cost of each surgery option:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
Femoral Head Ostectomy for dogs with hip dysplasia costs in the range of $1,200 to $2,500, including pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care and medications.
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 30 days after surgery. Most dogs will completely recover about six weeks following the operation, when they can 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. The cost of DPO or TPO surgery for most dogs is in the range of $3,000 for both hips.
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 you 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 required are expensive and require surgeon certification to be implemented.
THR surgery generally takes between 2 to 3 hours to complete, and your pet will likely need to be hospitalized for 1 to 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 to 6 month gap between procedures.
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 recover 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.