Hip Dysplasia & Your Dog
In dogs, (like people), the hip joint works as a ball and socket, but when hip dysplasia strikes the ball and socket fail to function normally. Rather than smoothly working together to facilitate comfortable movement, hip dysplasia causes the ball and socket to grind and rub against each other, leading to further hip deterioration and eventual loss of function.
This condition is very painful for dogs but can also be very difficult for pet parents to deal with since it can be very upsetting to watch an otherwise healthy dog deal with the effects of hip dysplasia.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is often a hereditary condition. Although it is commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs, it can affect a number of smaller breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs.
If left untreated, hip dysplasia tends to become increasingly severe over time and goes on to affect both hips (bilateral). In older dogs, hip dysplasia may be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis.
While hip dysplasia is most often an inherited condition, other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Obesity, accelerated growth rate and some types of exercise can all play a role in the development of this condition. The excess weight of obese dogs puts abnormal stress on the hip joints, and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia typically begins to develop when the puppy is around five months old however, your pup may not show signs of the condition until they reach their middle or senior years. As your puppy grows into adulthood watch for the following signs of hip dysplasia:
- Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising
- Reluctance to exercise, or climb stairs
- Back legs are stiff when he walks
- Stiffness when running
- Difficulties rising from a resting position
- Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs
- Grinding of the joint when moving
- Lameness in hind end
- Decreased range of motion
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
During your dog’s regular wellness exams, your veterinarian will check your dog's overall physical health as well as the condition of all your dog's joints.
Your vet may move your pet’s hind legs to check for any grinding sounds, signs of pain, or reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your pup may have hip dysplasia, blood tests may be recommended to look for signs of inflammation.
Your vet will also take a thorough medical history of your dog including a rundown of specific symptoms, and any previous injuries. Standard x-rays may also be helpful in diagnosing the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, and to help determine the best treatment for your dog.
Three Surgeries Used to Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia range based on the severity of the condition, and may include lifestyle changes, pain meds and surgery. There are 3 dog hip dysplasia surgeries commonly used:
Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO)
FHO surgery involves removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, then allowing the body to create a “false” joint. FHO surgery will not return your dog's normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing the pain and discomfort caused by hip dysplasia.
Factors such as the size and age of your dog, as well as the severity of the condition, will all affect the cost of FHO surgery to treat your dog's hip dysplasia. Speak to your vet to get an accurate estimate of the cost of your dog's FHO surgery.
Your dog's surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for caring for your pet after FHO surgery, but you will need to prevent your dog from doing any strenuous physical activity for at least 30 days. Recovery from FHO surgery usually takes about six weeks. Your dog will be able to resume their regular physical activity once healing is complete.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy surgeries are most commonly used to treat hip dysplasia in dogs under 10 months old. DPO/TPO surgery involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations then rotating the segments to improve the functioning of the ball and socket joint. The cost of DPO/TPO surgery varies based on your dog's size, overall health, the severity of your pup's condition and where you live. Speak to your vet to request a detailed estimate of the cost of your dog's DPO/TPO surgery.
Physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) will likely be required in order for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). You should expect your dog's recovery from DPO/TPO surgery to take about four to six weeks.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
Total hip replacement surgery is typically the number one choice for the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in considerable pain or close to completely immobile.
THR is the most effective surgery and involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint. THR can restore your dog's hip function back to a more normal range and eliminates most of the pain caused by hip dysplasia.
A total hip replacement is both the most drastic treatment option for hip dysplasia, and the most expensive. The artificial hip components used in THR surgery will be custom-made for your dog, and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons.
Expect a 12-week recovery period in order to allow time for proper healing to occur. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia in both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, with a three-to-six month gap between surgeries.
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.