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Hip Dysplasia Surgery for Dogs

Most dogs enjoy being active. Unfortunately, some dogs may experience conditions that impact their ability to move around comfortably. Here, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital discuss the causes and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs and how surgery at our animal hospitals in Louisiana may be able to help.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Your pup’s hip joints are a natural ball and socket system that should function smoothly together. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, the ball and socket fail to develop or function as they should. Instead of working together smoothly, the two parts grind and rub together, leading to a gradual breakdown and eventual loss of normal function. As you can imagine, this condition is painful and if not treated, can drastically reduce the quality of life for your dog.

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?

Canine hip dysplasia is generally hereditary, genetics being the leading contributor to the development of the condition in dogs, especially in larger breeds. Hip dysplasia in dogs typically continues to become worse with age, and will often affect both hips (bilateral). The pain and other symptoms of this condition may be exacerbated by osteoarthritis in older dogs.

Though the condition is inherited, some factors can amplify the genetic predisposition to the condition and increase the risk that it will develop, such as improper weight and nutrition, excessive growth rate and types of exercise. Obesity can aggravate a pre-existing condition or even be a contributing factor in the development of hip dysplasia due to abnormal stress put on the joints by excess weight.

What are the symptoms experienced by dogs with hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia typically begins to develop in puppies under a year old, but does not become apparent until the dog reaches their middle to senior years. If you are concerned that your pup may be feeling the pain of hip dysplasia watch for the following signs:

  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty or reluctance rising, jumping, running, or climbing stairs
  • Lameness in the hind end
  • Swaying gait
  • Grating in the joint during movement
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • Noticeable enlargement of the shoulder muscles
  • Pain
  • Stiffness or limping

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in dogs?

Even during routine annual examinations, your veterinarian will check your dog for signs of hip dysplasia by moving your pup’s hind legs to help detect any grinding, painful sensations or reduced range of motion in the joint. If your vet suspects that your pet could have hip dysplasia they may recommend blood tests to look for signs of inflammation.

Your vet may also request that you provide a health history of your pup including a detailed list of symptoms and any injuries that may have caused them. Knowing your pet’s lineage can also be helpful in the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.

If hip dysplasia is suspected, X-rays may be recommended to determine the severity of the condition and to help chart a course of action for treatment.

Can a dog live a normal life with hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in dogs causes significant pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally. When left untreated, this condition can drastically decrease your dog's quality of life.

Can hip dysplasia be cured in dogs?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for hip dysplasia in dogs. However, there are treatment options designed to provide your dog with pain relief and prevent further damage. Along with surgical options, your vet may recommend a healthy diet and exercise routine.

How is hip dysplasia in dogs treated?

Treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs can range from dietary changes to surgical procedures. Not all dogs are fit for surgery. In these cases, the veterinary surgeon may opt for treatments that include:

  • Weight reduction to take the stress off of the hips
  • Exercise restriction, especially on hard surfaces
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint supplements
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Joint fluid modifiers

Surgical Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia

If it is determined that your dog is a good candidate for veterinary surgery there are a few different options to treat hip dysplasia. The most commonly performed hip dysplasia surgeries are:

  • Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
  • Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
  • Total hip replacement (THR)

How long does it take for a dog to recover from hip surgery?

Your dog's movement will need to be severely restricted for about a month following surgery. This will mean crate rest when you are unable to supervise your dog's activities and only short, on-leash bathroom breaks outdoors. As much as possible, stairs and slippery floors should be avoided but if your pet must climb stairs keep them on a leash to keep them moving slowly and carefully.

No running, jumping or playing is permitted for the first two months after your dog's hip replacement surgery. However, depending on how your dog is healing, your vet may allow you to take your dog for short on-leash walks during the second month.

Although these restrictions can seem harsh it's important to keep in mind that following your vet's instructions and severely restricting your dog's activities for two months can help your dog heal well so that they can return to a joyful, active, pain-free life once recovery is complete.

How much does surgery cost for hip dysplasia in dogs?

The cost of hip surgery for dogs depends on factors like your dog's size, age, and how severe the problem is. The overall cost will include pre-surgical bloodwork, the procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care, and medication. 

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 pup having a difficult time getting around? Are they showing signs of discomfort while playing or walking? Speak with our vets about how your dog may benefit from veterinary surgery for hip dysplasia in Louisiana.

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