Hip dysplasia is a progressive, degenerative disease that starts during puppyhood, but most dogs aren't typically diagnosed until noticeable symptoms appear in adulthood. Today, our Perry vets list treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs, along with ways to help reduce the impact this painful condition can have on your dog's mobility.
The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia
Picture a ball and socket. This is similar to how your dog's hip joints work. In dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up their hip haven't properly developed and aren't working the way they should.
Instead, the ball and socket rub and grind against each other, causing ongoing pain, degeneration, and eventual loss of the affected hip's function.
Hip dysplasia is a progressive genetic disease most often seen in large or giant breed dogs. However, smaller breeds may also suffer from this painful joint condition. While dogs are typically diagnosed with this problem when they are adults, it can be seen in puppies as young as four months old if the hip dysplasia is severe.
Left untreated, hip dysplasia causes significant pain and diminishes your dog's ability to move normally. It can drastically reduce your canine companion's quality and enjoyment of life.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Genetics is the primary contributing factor to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs. Breeds that commonly suffer from the disease include giant and large breed dogs, including mastiffs. St. Bernards, retrievers, Rottweilers, and bulldogs. Several smaller breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs may also be vulnerable.
Hip dysplasia worsens with age and will likely affect both hips if left untreated. It may be exacerbated by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs.
While this condition is inherited, other factors can aggravate the genetic predisposition. Poor diet and weight management, some types of exercise, and accelerated growth rate may all contribute to the development of this disease. If a dog is obese, an abnormal amount of stress is placed on their joints and may inflame pre-existing hip dysplasia, or even cause it.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia to Watch For
Hip dysplasia symptoms can appear differently in individual dogs. Puppies afflicted with this condition generally begin to experience symptoms at round five months old. However, this may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. The severity and extent of symptoms also depend on how serious the condition is and which point it's reached in its progression. Pet owners should watch for these symptoms as their dog develops into adulthood:
- Lameness in the hind end
- Loss of muscle tone in the back thighs or back legs
- Decreased range of motion
- Stiffness while rising from a resting position or while running
- Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to run, jump, climb stairs or exercise)
- Grinding or grating of the joint when they move
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
Treating Hip Dysplasia in Puppies & Dogs
Your vet will assess whether your dog's symptoms point to hip dysplasia, then discuss treatment options based on the severity of your four-legged companion's condition. We may recommend simple lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, or more intensive treatments, such as pain medications or veterinary orthopedic surgery for your dog.
Types of Hip Dysplasia Surgery
There are three main surgical treatment options available for hip dysplasia in dogs:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
Puppies, young dogs and mature dogs can often benefit from FHO, which involves removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, enabling the body to create a "false" joint. This decreases hip dysplasia-related discomfort. While dogs that have FHO surgery are unlikely to experience the return of normal hip function, this can be an effective method for managing pain.
Post-surgery, your dog may be required to remain in hospital for anywhere between several hours and several days, depending on their health status and other factors. You'll receive specific instructions from your vet about how to care for your dog after FHO surgery. In addition, you'll need to prevent your dog from doing strenuous physical activity for at least 30 days. In most circumstances, you can expect about a six-week recovery period, after which your dog should completely recover. They can continue their usual physical activity once fully recovered.
Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
DPO/TPO surgeries are most commonly performed in puppies and young dogs under 10 months old and involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint.
Following these surgeries, your dog will require several weeks of reduced activity before they'll be able to enjoy properly leashed walks again and will need regular physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) for full mobility to return (although you may notice an improvement in joint stability 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 is the best surgical treatment option for 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 for those that have lost their mobility. The artificial components used in THR are custom-made for your dog, and the surgery is performed by a certified veterinary surgeon.
Total hip replacement surgery usually takes about two to three hours, and your dog may need to be hospitalized for one to three days following the surgery. 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 of recovery time between surgeries.
Preventing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Although hip dysplasia is largely a genetic condition inherited from previous generations, there are a few things that pet parents can do to help reduce the risk of their dog suffering from the debilitating effects of this condition.
Choose a Reputable Breeder
Because hip dysplasia is predominately a hereditary condition, the best way to avoid having to care for a dog with hip dysplasia is to select a puppy from a reputable breeder. A good breeder will know the medical history of the parents and grandparents and be aware of any family history of hip dysplasia. Spending time researching your breeder could save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run.
Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you're already a pet parent, the best way to help prevent hip dysplasia in dogs is to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts additional stress on your dog's joints and can lead to unnecessary discomfort and joint pain.
Slow The Growth of Giant Breed Puppies
If you have a large or giant breed puppy, it is essential to slow the growth of these breeds to allow their joints to develop properly without putting too much strain on them. Accelerated growth and weight gain before your dog's joints can handle it can lead to hip dysplasia as well as elbow dysplasia and other painful joint conditions.
Supplements & Diet
If your dog is experiencing joint pain or faces a high risk of developing hip dysplasia speak to your vet about supplements such as glucosamine and fish oils that could help your dog's joints to stay healthy. There are several readily available, high-quality dog foods on the market that contain ingredients to help your dog retain comfortable mobility. Speak to your vet to find out if this is an appropriate option for your dog.
Appropriate Exercise & Play
Different breeds and sizes of dogs require different levels of activity to occupy their minds and keep their bodies healthy. The exercise needs of an Irish Wolfhound compared to those of a Border Collie will be vastly different. Excessive exercise or inappropriate exercise could magnify your dog's genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia. Do your research, speak to your breeder, and consult your veterinarian to get a thorough understanding of the right exercise for your dog. Do not encourage your dog to do exercise that is not appropriate for their body type.
Pet Surgery in Perry
At Westmoreland & Slappey Animal Hospital, we understand that learning that your pet needs orthopedic surgery (or any type of surgery) can be daunting. You can rest assured that surgery is only recommended when it's in the best interests of your furry friend and that we will be here to guide you every step of the way.
Orthopedic surgery corrects injuries and diseases of the joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, and other skeletal structures in pets.
The cost of your dog's hip dysplasia surgery will depend on a number of factors, including your dog's age and size, as the severity of the condition and the pre-surgical lab tests they'll need. Your veterinarian will help you identify the right surgical option for you, your dog, and your budget, should your dog require this surgery.
If your pet needs a procedure or advanced specialized care that we cannot provide, we can refer you to a veterinary orthopedic surgeon near Perry.
If your vet has recommended your dog have surgery at our Perry veterinary clinic, you likely have many concerns and questions that may not have been addressed in this post. If this is the case for you, our veterinarians and staff are always happy to discuss any element of our services, policies, and procedures with you, and help you find the answers you need. Please feel free to contact us.
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.