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Surgery For Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which one or both of a dog's hips develop abnormally, leading to discomfort and pain when moving around. This condition can affect any dog breed. In our latest blog post, the veterinarians in Meadow Vista explain the symptoms of hip dysplasia and the surgeries that can be used to treat it.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition affecting one or both of your dog's hips. It occurs when the ball and socket joint that makes up the hip does not develop properly, causing the joint to grind and rub against each other instead of functioning as it should.

This can lead to the breakdown of the hip joint over time and cause the affected dog to experience severe pain and reduced mobility. Although hip dysplasia is more commonly seen in larger breeds, smaller breeds can also be affected.

If left untreated, the condition can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life, making it difficult for pet parents to watch their beloved furry friend suffer.

What causes canine hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an essentially hereditary condition, with genetics being the main factor in the development of the condition in dogs. Hip dysplasia is commonly seen in large and very large dogs, such as mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs, but a number of smaller breeds, such as French bulldogs and pugs, can also be prone to it.

If not treated early, the condition will likely worsen with age, affecting both hips (bilateral). Other painful conditions, such as osteoarthritis in older dogs can aggravate hip dysplasia.

Although hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease, other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Inadequate weight and diet, accelerated growth, and certain types of exercise can play a role in the development of the condition. Obesity puts abnormal stress on your dog's joints and can aggravate or even cause pre-existing hip dysplasia.

Whatever your dog's breed, it's important to consult your vet to find out how much daily exercise is right for your puppy and what diet is best for his age, size, and breed.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia?

Every dog is unique in showing symptoms of hip dysplasia, just like many other conditions. Although this condition usually begins developing when the puppy is as young as five months old, it may not be noticeable until the dog reaches middle or old age. Pet owners should keep an eye out for these signs 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 the hind end
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Running with a 'bunny hop'

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

Hip dysplasia is just one of the common conditions that vets look for every time a dog comes for an examination. During your dog's regular physical examinations, your vet will check his physical health and the condition of all his joints.

Your vet may move your dog's hind legs to detect grinding noises, signs of pain, or reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your dog has hip dysplasia, he may recommend blood tests, which may indicate inflammation resulting from joint disease.

Your vet will also ask you to provide your dog's full health and medical history, including a summary of specific symptoms and any injuries that may have caused them.

Knowledge of your pet's lineage can give you an indication of the likelihood of him developing hip dysplasia. Standard X-rays can also be very helpful in diagnosing the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia and in defining a course of action for treatment.

What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?

Treatment options for dogs with hip dysplasia vary based on the severity of the condition. They range from lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to medication and surgery for pain relief.

What 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 mature dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. This procedure involves the removal of the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, which allows the body to create a "false" joint, reducing discomfort. However, FHO surgery cannot restore normal hip function, but it can help manage pain effectively.

After the surgery, your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a few hours to several days, depending on their health and other factors. Your veterinary surgeon will provide specific instructions on caring for your dog following FHO surgery. You should ensure that your dog does not engage in any strenuous physical activity for at least 30 days. Your pup should make a full recovery within six weeks following the operation. Once fully recovered, your dog can resume their regular physical activities.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

These hip surgeries are most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old and involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations, then rotating the segments, improving the ball and socket joint. 

Following these surgeries, your pup will require several weeks before they'll be able to enjoy proper leash walks again. It will need regular physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) in order for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). Most dogs will recover within four to six weeks after DPO/TPO surgery.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

Total hip replacement is generally the most effective surgical option for treating hip dysplasia in dogs. This involves replacing the entire hip joint with plastic and metal implants, which can restore the hip's function and eliminate discomfort caused by hip dysplasia.

The procedure usually lasts between two to three hours, and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for one to three days after the surgery. To ensure proper healing, expect a 12-week recovery period. Even if your dog has hip dysplasia in both hips, the surgery will only be performed on one hip at a time, with a gap of three to six months between procedures.

We understand that hearing a diagnosis of hip dysplasia in your dog can be heartbreaking, as it causes pain and reduces mobility. The cost of surgical options may also be a concern. However, your veterinarian can recommend treatments that can help your dog recover and regain some of their hip function.

Do you suspect your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia? Our veterinarian surgeons at contact Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic have extensive experience in treating dogs with hip dysplasia. Book an appointment today. 

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