Hip dysplasia is caused by the abnormal formation of one or both of your dog's hips. This can lead to ongoing pain each time your dog moves. Our Gillette vets share some information about hip dysplasia, the related symptoms and how surgery can be used to treat this condition.
How Hip Dysplasia Presents Itself
Hip joints function just like a ball and socket. If your dog is suffering from the symptoms of hip dysplasia then the ball and socket that make up their hip have not developed properly and are not functioning as they should. Instead, 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.
Hip dysplasia is a condition most commonly seen in giant or large-breed dogs, however, it is able to affect breeds of all types and sizes. 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 Underlying Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
In dogs, hip dysplasia is predominantly a hereditary condition, with genetics being the leading contributor to the development of the condition. Breeds that commonly suffer from hip dysplasia include large and giant dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers and bulldogs, but a number of smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs may also be susceptible.
If hip dysplasia is left untreated in the early stages, it will likely continue to worsen with age and affect both hips. 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.
You should speak with your vet about what diet is recommended for your dog in order to avoid obesity and an increase in the severity of any symptoms they experience.
The Symptoms Associated With Hip Dysplasia
While each dog may experience different symptoms when it comes to hip dysplasia, there are certain symptoms that are common with this condition. This disorder typically begins to develop when the puppy is about 5 months old, but it may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:
- Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
- Their back legs are stiff while walking
- 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'
Examination & Diagnosis For Hip Dysplasia
Whenever a dog comes in for an examination your vet will check for signs that point to hip dysplasia. During your dog’s regular physical exams, your veterinarian will check on their physical health and the condition of all 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 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 speak with you about your dogs, health and medical history including a rundown of specific symptoms, and any injuries that may have caused these symptoms. If possible, your vet may look into the lineage of your pup to determine if your dog is predisposed to 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.
Treatment For Dog Hip Dysplasia
Treatment options for hip dysplasia range based on the severity of your pup's condition. 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.
Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options
When it comes to the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs, there are 3 main surgical 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. Dogs undergoing FHO are unlikely to see the return of normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing pain.
The cost of FHO will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. These can include your pup's size and age, as well as the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, which will all affect the price of FHO surgery.
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. 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 and then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint. The cost of this treatment varies but it can be fairly expensive. Speak with your vet to learn more about how much this option might cost for your dog.
Following these surgeries, your pup will require several weeks of reduced activity before they'll be able to enjoy proper leash walks again and will need regular physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) in order for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). Most dogs will recover within four to six weeks after DPO/TPO surgery.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
For many dogs suffering from hip dysplasia, the most effective option for treatment will be total hip replacement surgery or THR. 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.
One thing to note is that THR is also the most invasive and expensive of all surgical treatment options. 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. 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 Red Hills Veterinary 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. That said, your vet may be able to recommend the most suitable treatment option for your dog based on their condition and your budget.
Prevention of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Typically hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that can make preventing it difficult. However, there are some ways that pet parents can do to help reduce the risk of their dog suffering from the painful effects of this condition such as:
- Choose a Reputable Breeder
- Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Slow The Growth of Giant Breed Puppies
- Supplements & Diet
- Appropriate Exercise & Play
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.