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Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of one or both the dog's hips which can occur in any breed, and causes pain or discomfort when exercising or simply changing position. Here, our Gold Canyon vets discuss the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs and how surgery can help correct it.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the formation and function of your dog's hip joint. Normally, the ball and socket of the hip should fit together smoothly, but in dogs with hip dysplasia, this alignment is disrupted.

The ball and socket don't develop properly, causing them to grind and rub against each other. Over time, this leads to deterioration and loss of function in the affected hip joint.

Although hip dysplasia is commonly observed in large and giant breeds, it can also affect smaller breeds. If left untreated, hip dysplasia can significantly impact your dog's quality of life, causing pain and impairing their ability to move comfortably.

It can be distressing for pet owners to witness their otherwise healthy dog struggle with the symptoms of this condition.

What causes canine hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is predominantly a hereditary condition, with genetics being the leading contributor to the development of the condition in dogs. Hip dysplasia is commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers and bulldogs, but a number of smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs may also be susceptible.

If left untreated in the early stages, this condition will likely continue to worsen with age and affect both hips (bilateral). Hip dysplasia may be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs. 

Although hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, some other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Improper weight and nutrition, accelerated growth rate and some types of exercise can all play a role in the development of the condition. Obesity puts abnormal stress on your dog’s joint, and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.

Regardless of which breed of dog you own, it’s important to consult your vet regarding the right amount of daily exercise for your pup, and the most appropriate diet for their age, size and breed.

What are symptoms of hip dysplasia?

As with many other conditions, every dog is different when it comes to displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia. Although the condition typically starts to develop when the puppy is as young as five months old, it may not become apparent until the dog reaches their middle or senior years. Pet parents should watch for these symptoms as their puppy grows into adulthood:

  • Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
  • 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 hind end
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Running with a 'bunny hop'

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

When you take your dog to the vet for a check-up, hip dysplasia is one of the common conditions they keep an eye out for. During the regular physical exams, your veterinarian will assess your dog's overall physical health and examine the condition of their joints.

They may manipulate your dog's hind legs to detect any grinding sounds, signs of discomfort, or limited range of motion. If hip dysplasia is suspected, your vet may suggest blood tests to check for inflammation associated with joint disease.

To gather a complete picture, your vet will ask for your dog's comprehensive health and medical history, including specific symptoms and any past injuries. Understanding your pet's lineage can provide insights into their likelihood of developing hip dysplasia.

Standard x-rays are also valuable tools in diagnosing the severity of hip dysplasia and guiding treatment plans.

What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?

Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia range based on the severity of the condition, from changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise, to pain meds and surgery. 

What are options are available for dog hip dysplasia surgery?

When it comes to treating hip dysplasia in dogs, there are 3 main surgical options available:

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

FHO surgery can be beneficial for both young and older dogs. This procedure involves the removal of the femoral head (the ball part) of the hip joint, allowing the body to form a "false" joint, which reduces the discomfort associated with hip dysplasia. While FHO surgery doesn't restore normal hip function, it can effectively manage pain.

After the surgery, the length of hospital stay will vary depending on your dog's health and other factors, ranging from a few hours to several days. Your veterinary surgeon will provide specific post-operative care instructions, but it's crucial to prevent your dog from engaging in strenuous physical activities for at least 30 days.

Most dogs recover fully within about six weeks following the surgery and can gradually resume regular physical activity.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

The surgeries for hip dysplasia, known as DPO/TPO, are commonly performed on dogs younger than 10 months old. These procedures involve strategic cuts in the pelvic bone, followed by rotating the segments to enhance the ball and socket joint.

After these surgeries, your dog will need several weeks before they can resume regular leash walks. Physical rehabilitation, similar to physiotherapy for dogs, will be necessary to restore full mobility (although you may observe improved joint stability within four weeks). Most dogs recover within four to six weeks after DPO/TPO surgery.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

Total hip replacement (THR) is often the preferred surgical treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs due to its high effectiveness. This procedure involves replacing the entire hip joint with plastic and metal implants, restoring hip function and reducing discomfort associated with hip dysplasia.

Typically, total hip replacement surgery lasts around two to three hours, and your dog may require hospitalization for one to three days after the procedure. A 12-week recovery period is necessary to ensure proper healing.

If your dog has hip dysplasia in both hips, surgeries are typically performed on one hip at a time, with a gap of three to six months between procedures.

We understand that receiving a hip dysplasia diagnosis for your dog can be distressing, as it causes pain and reduces mobility. It's natural to have financial concerns about surgical options.

However, your veterinarian can provide recommendations on suitable treatments or a combination of approaches to aid in your dog's recovery and improve their hip function.

If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia, contact our Gold Canyon veterinarians to book a consultation for corrective surgery.

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