Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
The hip joint in dogs (and humans) works as a ball and socket, but when hip dysplasia occurs, the ball and socket stop working properly. Hip dysplasia causes the ball and socket to grind and rub against each other instead of smoothly cooperating to allow for comfortable movement, resulting in further hip deterioration and eventual loss of function.
This condition is painful for dogs, but it can also be difficult for pet parents to deal with because it can be upsetting to watch an otherwise healthy dog suffer from hip dysplasia's effects.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is often a hereditary condition. Although it is commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs, it can affect several smaller breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs.
Hip dysplasia tends to get worse over time if left untreated, eventually affecting both hips (bilateral). Hip dysplasia in older dogs can be exacerbated by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis.
While hip dysplasia is most commonly inherited, other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Obesity, rapid growth, and certain types of exercise can all contribute to the onset of this condition. Obese dogs' excess weight places abnormal stress on their hip joints, which can aggravate or even cause hip dysplasia.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia usually appears around the age of five months, but your puppy may not exhibit symptoms until he or she is in their middle or senior years. As your puppy grows, keep an eye out for the following signs of hip dysplasia:
- Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising
- Reluctance to exercise, or climb stairs
- Their back legs are stiff when walking
- Stiffness when running
- Difficulties rising from a resting position
- Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs
- Grinding of the joint when moving
- Lameness in the hind end
- Decreased range of motion
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
How Vets Diagnose Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
During your dog’s regular wellness exams, your veterinarian will check your dog's overall physical health as well as the condition of all your dog's joints.
Your pet's hind legs may be moved by your vet as they examine them for soreness, signs of pain, or a loss of range of motion. Blood tests to look for indications of inflammation may be advised if your dog's doctor suspects hip dysplasia.
Your dog's medical history will be taken as well, including a list of specific symptoms and any previous injuries. Standard x-rays may also be useful in determining the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia and the best treatment options for him.
Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery
Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia range based on the severity of the condition, and may include lifestyle changes, pain meds, and surgery. Recovery from hip dysplasia surgery for dogs is usually around six weeks. The cost of hip dysplasia in dogs also varies depending on the size of your dog and the severity of the condition. There are 3 dog hip dysplasia surgeries commonly used:
Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO)
The femoral head (ball) of the hip joint is removed, and the body is then allowed to create a "false" joint. FHO surgery will not restore your dog's normal hip function, but it can be an effective way to manage the pain and discomfort that hip dysplasia causes.
For at least 30 days following FHO surgery, you must prevent your dog from engaging in any strenuous physical activity. Your dog's surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions for caring for your pet. The typical recovery time following FHO surgery is six weeks. Your dog will be able to resume regular physical activity once the healing process is finished.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
Hip dysplasia in dogs under the age of 10 months is most commonly treated with double or triple pelvic osteotomy surgeries. DPO/TPO surgery involves cutting specific areas of the pelvic bone and rotating the segments to improve the ball and socket joint's function.
Prior to regaining full mobility, physical rehabilitation (physiotherapy for dogs) will likely be necessary (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). Following DPO/TPO surgery, your dog should require four to six weeks of recovery.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
For the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs, total hip replacement surgery is usually the first option. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in a lot of pain or is on the verge of becoming completely immobile.
THR is the most effective surgery, and it involves replacing the entire hip joint with plastic and metal implants. THR can help your dog's hip function return to normal and relieve most of the pain associated with hip dysplasia.
Total hip replacement is the most invasive and expensive treatment option for hip dysplasia. THR surgery is carried out by certified veterinary surgeons, and the artificial hip components used in THR surgery are made specifically for your dog.
Expect a 12-week recovery period to allow for proper healing to take place. If your dog has hip dysplasia in both hips, surgery on one hip may be performed at a time, with a three-to-six-month gap between surgeries.