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Hip Dysplasia Surgery in Dogs

If your pooch is showing signs of hip dysplasia such as pain or discomfort when exercising, it’s important to get checked right away. In this post, our Fort Worth vets describe symptoms and causes of the condition in dogs, plus surgical options.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

We often see this common skeletal condition in giant or large breed dogs, although smaller breeds can also suffer from this condition.

A dog’s hip joint works as a ball and socket. In 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 in the function of this important joint.

What causes canine hip dysplasia?

As you might expect, this condition is painful and, if left untreated, can significantly reduce your dog's quality of life. It's also upsetting to see once-healthy dogs develop physical symptoms.

Hip dysplasia is hereditary, and genetics plays an important role in its development in dogs, especially in larger breeds like mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs. Smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs are also susceptible.

This condition, which affects both hips (bilaterally), can worsen with age. In senior dogs, osteoarthritis and associated pain may aggravate it.

Which breeds are prone to canine hip dysplasia?

Though the condition is inherited, some factors, such as poor weight and nutrition, a rapid growth rate, and certain types of exercise, can magnify the genetic predisposition to the condition and increase the risk of it developing. Obesity puts undue strain on your dog's joints, which can aggravate an existing condition or even lead to hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is most common in giant and large breed dogs, but it can occur in any breed or size of dog. This is why it's critical to consult your vet about how much exercise your dog needs each day and what their ideal diet should consist of.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia?

While hip dysplasia can start to develop in puppies as young as five months old, it may not appear until they reach their senior years. As with many other conditions, every dog is different. In many cases, owners notice it in pooches that are middle-aged or older.

Watch for these symptoms of hip dysplasia in your pup:

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

Your veterinarian will examine your dog's physical health and condition during routine physical exams. The vet may move your dog's hind legs to detect any grinding, painful sensations, or restricted range of motion in the joint. There may be blood tests as a complete blood count can indicate inflammation as a result of joint disease.

You should also be prepared to provide your veterinarian with your dog's medical history, a list of his specific symptoms, and any injuries that may have caused them. Knowing your dog's ancestry is also advantageous. In addition to these, your veterinarian will usually take an x-ray or radiograph to determine the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia and plan a treatment plan.

What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia treatment options for dogs can range from dietary and lifestyle changes to surgery. The following are the three most common types of hip dysplasia surgery:

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

This type of surgery, which involves removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, can benefit both young and mature dogs. The body then creates a "false" joint, which alleviates the pain associated with hip dysplasia. While your dog will not regain normal hip function, it can be a useful pain management strategy.

Your dog may need to stay in the hospital for several hours to several days following surgery, depending on his health, the surgery, and other factors. Avoid strenuous physical activity for the first 30 days after surgery. Most dogs will be able to resume physical activity six weeks after surgery.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

This veterinary surgery, which is most commonly performed on dogs under 10 months old, involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and rotating its segments, resulting in an improved ball and socket joint.

Your dog will need several weeks before he can walk comfortably again, and he will need regular physiotherapy to regain full mobility (though you may notice joint stability improving within four weeks). The majority of dogs will recover in four to six weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

This is frequently the first option because it is the most effective surgical procedure for hip dysplasia in dogs. It entails replacing the entire joint with plastic and metal implants, which restores hip function to normal and eliminates most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.

THR surgery is the most drastic and expensive option, usually chosen when the dog is in severe pain and nearly completely immobile. Artificial components must be made specifically for your dog, and the surgery must be performed by a certified veterinary surgeon.

The surgery usually takes two to three hours, and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for one to three days afterward. Expect a 12-week recovery period for your dog after hip dysplasia surgery to ensure proper healing. Although hip dysplasia usually affects both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, with a three-to-six-month interval between procedures.

Hearing that your dog has hip dysplasia is heartbreaking because the condition is painful and can severely limit mobility. It may also cause financial concerns because surgical options can have a financial impact. Your veterinarian, on the other hand, may be able to recommend a treatment option or a combination of treatments to assist your dog in recovering and regaining 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 at Harris Parkway Animal Hospital in Fort Worth have experience in identifying many conditions and illnesses in dogs. Book an appointment today.

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