Hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of one or both the dog's hips which causes pain or discomfort when exercising or just changing position. Our Northeast Pennsylvania veterinary surgeons in Plains explain more about hip dysplasia, its symptoms and surgeries which can be used to treat this condition in dogs.
What is hip dysplasia in dogs?
As with humans, your dog’s hip joint works as a ball and socket. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, there has been an abnormal formation of one or both of your dog's hips. When the hip has not formed correctly it is unable to function as smoothly as it should, meaning that the ball and socket rub or grind against each other, eventually leading to further deterioration of the hip and loss of function. Left untreated hip dysplasia can severely reduce your dog's quality of life, as the condition causes pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally.
What causes hip dysplasia?
Predominantly a hereditary condition, genetics is the leading contributor to the development of the hip dysplasia in dogs. Although hip dysplasia is most often seen in large and giant breed dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers and bulldogs, a number of smaller breeds are also susceptible, such as pugs and French bulldogs.
If hip dysplasia is left untreated in the early stages, the condition of the hip is likely to deteriorate further and affect both hips (bilateral). In later years, hip dysplasia in dogs is likely to be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis.
There are a number of other factors that can exacerbate a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia in dogs.
- Improper weight and nutrition (obesity): If your puppy is predisposed to developing hip dysplasia added weight will increase the risk of the condition developing. Essentially, the amount of damage done to your dog's hips will depend on the amount of force the dog's hips need to endure. The heavier your dog is, the greater the forces will be and the higher the risk of your dog developing hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
- Accelerated Growth Rate: It is essential that growing puppies be fed a nutritionally balanced diet that is tailored to their specific needs. This is particularly true in large and giant breed dogs who are prone to hip dysplasia.
- Too Much & Too Little Exercise: Puppies that do not get enough exercise, and those who get too much of the wrong exercise are at higher risk of developing hip dysplasia. Very young puppies with exposure to stairs also face an increased risk of the condition, as do those who enjoy franticly chasing balls thrown by pet parents.
What are signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?
Every dog is different when it comes to displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia. While the condition typically starts to develop when the puppy is as young as five months old, symptoms may not become apparent until the dog reaches their middle or senior years. Dog owners should keep an eye out for these symptoms as their puppy grows into adulthood:
- Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising
- Back legs are stiff when he walks
- Stiffness when running
- Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs
- Reluctance to climb stairs, run or jump
- Grating or grinding of the joint when moving
- Stiffness when rising from resting position
- Lameness in hind end
- Decreased range of motion
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
Hip dysplasia is one of the conditions that vets watch for whenever your dog has an examination. During your pet’s regular physical exams, your primary care vet will check the condition of all your dog's joints. Vets will often move the dog’s hind legs to identify any grinding sounds, signs of pain, or reduced range of motion. If your dog is showing signs of hip dysplasia, blood tests may be recommended which can indicate inflammation as a result of joint disease.
Your veterinarian might also request your dog’s complete health and medical history including a rundown of specific symptoms, and any injuries that may have caused them. Knowing your pet’s lineage isn't essential but can offer insights into your dog's risk hip dysplasia. X-rays can also be very helpful in diagnosing the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, as well as for treatment planning.
What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?
Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia range based on the severity of the condition, from changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise, to pain meds and surgery.
What are options are available for dog hip dysplasia surgery?
When it comes to treating hip dysplasia in dogs, there are 3 main surgical options available:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
FHO can be beneficial for both young and older dogs. FHO surgery entails removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, allowing the body to create a “false” joint, which helps to decreases the discomfort related to hip dysplasia. This surgery will not restore normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing the pain caused by hip dysplasia.
A number of factors such as the size and age of your dog, as well as the severity of the condition, will all affect the price of FHO surgery. In most cases you can expect to pay from $1,200 to $2,500, including pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care and medications.
Following FHO surgery, your dog may be required to remain in hospital for anywhere from several hours to several days. 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. Typically, you can expect your pooch to completely recover about six weeks. Once fully recovered your dog will be able to resume regular physical activity.
Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
Most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old, these hip surgeries involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations then rotating the segments in order to achieve improved functioning of the ball and socket joint. As with all surgeries, the cost of this treatment varies but for most dogs it will be in the range of $3,000 for both hips.
After surgery, your pup will require several weeks to recover before they'll be able to enjoy regular leash walks again, and physical rehabilitation (dog physiotherapy) will likely be recommended in order for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). Most dogs recover from DPO/TPO surgery within four to six weeks.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
Total hip replacement is considered the most effective surgery for treating hip dysplasia. THR involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint, returning your dog's hip function to a more normal range and eliminating most of the hip dysplasia related discomfort.
That said, THP surgery is also the most expensive option. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in considerable pain or close to completely immobile. The artificial components used in THR are custom-made for your dog, and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons. Cost of THR for hip dysplasia can be anywhere between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 depending on your dog's condition, size, age, overall health and other factors.
Total hip replacement surgery takes approximately two to three hours to perform, and your dog may need to be hospitalized for one to three days following the procedure. If your dog undergoes total hip replacement surgery expect a 12-week recovery period. Even if your dog has hip dysplasia in both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, with a three-to-six month gap between procedures to allow for healing.