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Hip Dysplasia Surgery for Dogs

Hip Dysplasia Surgery for Dogs

Is your dog experiencing pain or discomfort when exercising? If so, they could be suffering from hip dysplasia, which requires surgery to treat. Find out more about the symptoms and causes of hip dysplasia in dogs, along with surgical treatment options, from our Parrish vets. 

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Your dog's hip joint works similarly to a ball and socket. For dogs that experience hip dysplasia, this ball and socket do not develop or function properly. 

Instead, they grind and rub, which can lead to breakdown over time and eventual loss of function in this important joint. This condition is painful and if not treated, can greatly reduce quality of life for your dog. It's also difficult to watch your once-healthy dog experience symptoms of hip problems. 

What causes canine hip dysplasia? 

Hip dysplasia is hereditary, and genetics factor into the development of the condition in dogs. Giant or large breed dogs such as bulldogs, retrievers, Rottweilers, mastiffs, and St. Bernards are often diagnosed with this common skeletal condition. However, smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs may also be afflicted.

Since obesity puts abnormal stress on your dog's hip joint, this can aggravate a pre-existing condition or even cause hip dysplasia. 

The condition can worsen with age and affect both hips (bilateral). Osteoarthritis and associated pain in senior dogs can also exacerbate the issue. 

Improper weight and nutrition, excessive growth rate, and certain types of exercise can magnify the genetic predisposition to the condition and increase the risk it will develop. This is why it's important to ask your vet about the right amount of daily exercise for your dog and what your pup's ideal diet should contain. 

What are symptoms of hip dysplasia?

While puppies as young as five months old can begin to develop hip dysplasia, it may not appear until they reach their senior years. As with many other health conditions in dogs, every canine is different. In many cases, owners notice it in their four-legged companions who are middle-aged or older. 

Look for these symptoms of hip dysplasia in your dog:

  • Stiffness when rising from a resting position, or when running
  • Running with a bunny hop 
  • Signs of pain or discomfort while exercising (or a reluctance to run, jump, climb stairs, or exercise)
  • Back legs are stiff when walking 
  • Loss of muscle tone in thighs or back legs
  • Decreased range of motion 
  • Grinding or grating of the joint when he moves 
  • Lameness in hind end 

How will my vet check my dog for hip dysplasia?

Your veterinarian will check your dog's physical health and condition during regular physical exams. The vet may move your dog's hind legs to identify any painful sensations, grinding or reduced range of motion that may be present in the joint. Blood tests may also need to be done, as complete blood count can indicate inflammation that may result from joint disease. 

Be prepared to provide your veterinarian with your dog's health history, a list of his specific symptoms, and any injuries that may have caused them. It's also helpful to know your dog's lineage. In addition, your vet will also typically take an X-ray or radiographs to pinpoint the severity of hip dysplasia in your dog and plan a course of action for treatment. 

What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?

Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia may range from lifestyle or diet changes to veterinary surgery. Here are three common types of hip dysplasia surgeries:

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) 

This type of surgery may be recommended for both young and mature dogs. During this procedure, the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint is removed. The body then creates a "false" joint, which reduces hip dysplasia-related discomfort. While your dog won't experience the return of his normal hip function, this can be a strategic method of managing pain. 

Following surgery, your dog may need to stay in hospital for anywhere between several hours to several days, depending on his health, the procedure and other factors. Avoid allowing your dog to engage in strenuous physical activity for 30 days after surgery. Most dogs will completely recover about six weeks after their operation and be able to resume physical activity. 

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

Most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old, this surgery involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and rotating its segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint.

Your pooch will require several weeks before he’ll be able to stroll comfortably again, and will need regular physiotherapy for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within four weeks). Most dogs will recover within four to six weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

This option is often the first choice as it is the most effective surgical procedure for hip dysplasia in dogs. It involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the whole joint, which brings hip function back to a more normal range and eliminates most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.

A THP surgery is a drastic option and the most expensive, typically taken when the dog in question is in considerable pain and nearly completely immobile. Artificial components must be custom-made for your pooch and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons.

The surgery usually takes about two to three hours, and your pup may need to be hospitalized for one to three days following surgery. To ensure proper healing, expect a 12-week recovery period. Though hip dysplasia usually appears in both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, allowing a three to six-month gap between procedures.

Hearing a diagnosis of hip dysplasia in your dog can be heart-wrenching, as the condition is painful and can visibly reduce mobility. It may also cause some financial concerns as surgical options can impact your budget. However, your vet may be able to recommend an option or combination of treatments that can help your dog recover and regain his 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.

Do you suspect your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia? Our veterinarians in Parrish have experience in identifying many illnesses and conditions in dogs. Book an appointment today.

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