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Dog Hip Dysplasia: Causes & Surgery

Dog Hip Dysplasia: Causes & Surgery

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a common condition that is characterized by the abnormal formation of one or both of your dog's hips, leading to pain for your pooch when running, walking, or even just hanging position. Here, our Grayson vets explain more about hip dysplasia, its symptoms and the surgeries used to treat this condition.

The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia

Your dog’s hip joint works as a ball and socket. If your pooch is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up their hip have not developed properly and are not functioning as they are supposed to. Instead, the ball and socket grind and rub against each other, leading to continued breakdown, pain, and eventual loss in the function of the affected hip.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that is most commonly found in giant or large breeds of dog. That being said, smaller breeds can also suffer from this painful joint condition. If hip dysplasia isn't promptly treated, it can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life as the condition causes significant pain and reduces your dog's ability to move as they normally would. 

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is predominantly a hereditary condition in dogs, with genetics being the leading contributor to the development of this condition. Breeds that commonly suffer from hip dysplasia can include large and larger breeds of dog 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 hip dysplasia is left untreated in the early stages, it will likely continue to worsen with age and affect both hips. Hip dysplasia may also be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs. 

While hip dysplasia is genetically inherited, other factors may make this condition develop quicker or grow much worse. These can including nutritional, weight management, growth rates and some kinds of exercise. Obesity places an abnormal amount of stress on your dog's joints and, as a result, may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition to emerge.

To help avoid hip dysplasia it’s important to consult your vet regarding the right amount of daily exercise for your pup, and the most appropriate diet for their breed, age, and size.

Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia

Every dog is different when it comes to displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia. The condition generally starts to develop when the puppy is about five months old, but it may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:

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

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Whenever a dog comes in for an examination your vet will check for signs that point to hip dysplasia. During your dog’s regular physical exams, your veterinarian will check on their physical health and the condition of all your dog's joints. Your vet may move your dog’s hind legs to identify any grinding sounds, signs of pain, or reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your dog may have hip dysplasia, they might recommend blood tests that can indicate inflammation as a result of the disease.

Your vet will ask you questions in order to gather complete health and medical history for your dog, including an array of specific symptoms and any injuries that may have caused them. Knowing your pet's lineage can offer insight into your dog's likelihood of developing hip dysplasia. Standard x-rays can also be very helpful in diagnosing the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, and to chart a course of action for treatment.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Treatment options for hip dysplasia range based on the severity of your pup's condition. Your vet may recommend simple changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise, or more intensive treatments such as pain meds or orthopedic surgery for your dog. 

Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options

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

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

FHO is able to benefit both younger and more mature dogs. This kind of surgery involves the removal of the femoral head (the 'ball') of the hip joint to create a 'false' joint, creasing the discomfort experienced as a result of hip dysplasia. 

Dogs undergoing FHO are unlikely to see the return of normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing pain.

Your pup's size and age, as well as the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, will all affect the price of FHO surgery. The cost of FHO surgery includes pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care and medications. 

After this surgery, your dog may be required to remain in hospital under veterinary monitoring for anywhere between several hours and several days depending on their overall health and more. Your veterinary surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for caring for your dog after FHO surgery, but you will need to prevent your dog from doing any strenuous physical activity for at least 30 days. In most cases, you can expect your pup to completely recover about six weeks following the operation. Once fully recovered they can resume regular physical activity.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

DPO/TPO surgeries are most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old, and involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint. The cost of this treatment varies.

Following these surgeries, your pup will require several weeks of reduced activity before they'll be able to enjoy proper leash walks again, and 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)

In many cases total hip replacement the best choice for the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs, since it is typically the most effective. THR involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint, bringing hip function back to a more normal range and eliminating most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.

However, THP surgery is a drastic option and the most expensive. Most vets recommend this surgery for dogs that are experiencing considerable pain or those that have lost their mobility. The artificial components used in THR are custom-made for your pooch, and the surgery is performed by a certified veterinary surgeon. Cost of THR for hip dysplasia in dogs can be anywhere between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 or more depending on your dog's condition, size, age, overall health and other factors. If your dog is affected in both hips, surgery can cost quite a bit more than other surgical options when factoring in the cost of pre-surgical blood work, surgery, anesthesia and all medications.

Total hip replacement surgeries usually take about 2 to 3 hours to complete and your dog may need to stay at a veterinary hospital for up to 3 days after the procedure. Expect a 12-week recovery period. Even if your dog's hip dysplasia appears in both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, allowing between 3 - 6 months or recovery time between surgeries.

Hip Dysplasia Surgery Costs

At All Creatures Veterinary Care, our vets understand that receiving a diagnosis of hip dysplasia for your dog can be upsetting since the condition is painful and can visibly reduce your pup's mobility. This diagnosis can also raise financial concerns as surgical options can significantly impact your budget. The ultimate cost of your dog's treatment will depend on their overall health, your veterinarian, the area of the country you live in and more. 

As mentioned above, FHO surgery tends to be the most approachable and least expensive of the treatment options, with DPO or TPO surgeries being a middle ground and total hip replacements being the most expensive.That said, your vet may be able to recommend the most suitable treatment option for your dog based on their condition and your budget.

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.

Is your dog suffering from pain caused by hip dysplasia? Contact All Creatures Veterinary Care to book an examination for your canine companion. Our vets are experienced in hip dysplasia diagnosis and surgery for dogs.

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