When a dog suffers from hip dysplasia it means that they experience pain related to bones and joints that didn't form properly when they were young. Today, our San Angelo vets talk about types of surgery for hip conditions, what to expect if your dog needs hip dysplasia surgery, and what it might cost.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

When a dog is experiencing hip dysplasia it means that the ball and socket that moves their limbs have not properly formed and may cause discomfort along with a slew of other symptoms. 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(s).

While hip dysplasia mainly affects large dogs it also has the potential to affect other smaller breeds of dog. If hip dysplasia is left untreated, it can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life, as the condition causes significant pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally. The most common treatment option for hip dysplasia in dogs is surgery.

Are there any common causes of hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is known to be a hereditary condition which is why it tends to affect certain breeds more than others. Breeds that commonly suffer from hip dysplasia include large and giant dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs, but several smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs may also be susceptible.

While hip dysplasia may only initially affect a single hip, it can eventually affect both hips if not diagnosed and treated swiftly. Hip dysplasia may also be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs. 

While hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Poor weight management and nutrition, accelerated growth rate, and some types of exercise can all play a role in the development of the condition. Obesity puts an abnormal amount of stress on your pup’s joints and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.

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.

What are the signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?

The symptoms seen in dogs with hip dysplasia vary from dog to dog. 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. Some fo the commonly seen signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • 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 will your vet diagnose hip dysplasia?

Whenever a dog comes in for an examination your vet will check for signs that point to hip dysplasia. Your vet will evaluate the motion of your dog's joints during their physical exam. 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 want to discuss your dog's recent behaviors and symptoms with you. Knowing your pet’s lineage can offer insights 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 charting a course of action for treatment.

Hip Dysplasia Surgery For Dogs

There are a number of different options available to help treat and manage hip dysplasia in dogs. 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. 

The Different Types of Hip Dysplasia Surgery

There are three main types of surgery that are used to treat hip dysplasia, these are:

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

Femoral head ostectomy can be useful for dogs of many different ages. The femoral head is the ball of the joint and in this surgery, your vet will remove this ball, allowing the body to create a “false” joint, which decreases the discomfort related to 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.

After the surgery, your dog could be required to remain in the hospital for anywhere between several hours and several days, depending on their health, and other factors.

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.

It will take your dog around 6 weeks to heal and recover after this surgery.

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 and then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint.

You will need to greatly reduce your dog's activity while they recover, after which they'll be able to enjoy proper leash walks again and will need regular physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improvement within as little as four weeks).

You can expect your dog's recovery to take around 4 to 6 weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

In many cases, total hip replacement is 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.

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 surgery.

Your dog will have one hip repaired at a time with a 12-week recovery period after surgery and 3 to 6 months between each surgery.

Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery - Recovery

Before your canine companion goes in for surgery you should take some time to speak with the vet and discuss any considerations for your dog's recovery. You should decide where you will confine your dog during the post-operative period before bringing your pet home. Because your dog's mobility will be limited, we recommend that you use the following:

  • A dog crate that is large enough that he/she can stand up and turn around
  • A gated-off area such as the kitchen
  • Confinement to a room

What activities should my dog avoid doing?

Some of the activities that should be prevented include:

No Jumping

If your dog jumps and extends their legs, they could cause issues that might slow the healing process.

Avoid Stairs

You should use a baby gate to block any access to stairs for the first few weeks after surgery. Stairs could cause further complications.

No Play Time

While it may make your dog sad, you should avoid allowing your dog to play or socialize until your vet says that it is okay.

Don't Allow Licking of the Incision

After your dog has surgery you should prevent them from licking the incision site as this can cause bacteria to enter the wound causing infection.

What is the cost of dog hip dysplasia surgery?

When hip dysplasia affects dogs and they require surgery you can expect the cost to vary depending on a variety of factors. These can range from the type of surgery that your dog will undergo, to the clinic where it's being performed, and more.

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.

If your dog will be having surgery to treat an orthopedic condition and you have any questions, please contact our San Angelo vets.