Hip dysplasia is a painful orthopedic condition that affects a dog's hips. Often hereditary, this condition is characterized by the abnormal formation of one or both of your dog's hips. Today, our Berkeley vets explain hip dysplasia and the surgical treatments available to treat the condition.
The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia
In a healthy dog, the ball and socket joint that joins their hip and femur bone fit perfectly together. In dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, their socket joint does not develop properly and is too shallow so the head of the femur bone (the "ball") does not fit correctly. This causes the ball and socket to grind against each other, leading to a progressive breakdown of the joint, pain, and loss of motion for your pup. It is commonly found in both hips of affected dogs.
Hip dysplasia is a progressive disease, meaning if it is left untreated it will worsen with age and can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life. Hip dysplasia may also be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs. Surgery is typically the best treatment option for hip dysplasia.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is predominantly a hereditary condition. These days, most reputable breeders will screen for the condition so it is not passed on to young pups.
Breeds that commonly suffer from hip dysplasia include large and giant dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs. While less common, small breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs can also be affected.
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 follow your vet's guidelines about the most appropriate diet and activity for your pup based on age, breed, and size.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia typically starts to develop in puppies around five months, but symptoms often won't appear until much later when your dog reaches their middle to senior years. Some common signs of hip dysplasia are:
- Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
- Back legs are stiff when they walk
- 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 they move
- Decreased range of motion
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Most vets will screen for hip dysplasia during routine exams by checking the condition of 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 hip dysplasia is suspected, your vet may recommend further diagnostic testing, such as bloodwork and X-rays, to confirm the diagnosis.
Talk to your vet if you notice any of the above symptoms or think your dog might be suffering from hip dysplasia. Knowing your pet’s lineage can offer insights into your dog's likelihood of developing hip dysplasia.
Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Treatment options for hip dysplasia range based on the severity of your dog's condition and their age. Your vet may recommend simple changes to increase your dog's comfort, such as pain medication or a change in diet and exercise, or your vet may recommend hip dysplasia surgery for your dog.
Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options
When it comes to dog hip dysplasia surgery, there are 3 main options available:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
FHO can benefit both young and mature dogs. This type of surgery entails removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, allowing the body to create a “false” joint, which decreases the discomfort related to hip dysplasia. Dog's 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 cost of FHO surgery. You can expect to pay from $1,200 to $2,500 or more, including pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care, and medications.
After the surgery, your dog could be required to remain in the hospital for anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on how they're recovering. 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 for a dog undergoing this type of hip dysplasia surgery varies but is typically upwards of $3000 for both hips.
This type of dog hip dysplasia surgery recovery consists of several weeks of reduced activity and regular physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy for dogs) in order for full mobility to return. Most dogs will recover within four to six weeks after DPO/TPO surgery.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
In many cases, the best and most effective choice for surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs is a total hip replacement. A total hip replacement involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint. This brings hip function back to a normal range and eliminates most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.
THP can be a drastic option for dog hip dysplasia surgery as the cost is very high and can range from $3,500 to over $7,000 per hip. 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.
The surgery itself takes about 2-3 hours and your dog may need to be hospitalized for up to three days following surgery, barring any complications. You can 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.
At Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital, 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. Your vet will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment for your pup 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.