Hip dysplasia is a condition affecting one of both of a dog's hips and causing their abnormal formation during a dog's developmental years. Here, our Johns Creek vet team explains more about hip dysplasia, its symptoms and the surgeries generally used to treat the condition.
The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia
Your dog's hip joint works quite similarly to a ball and socket. If diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket of your dog's hips aren't properly developed and cause the bones to grind against one another. This leads to continued breakdown and loss of mobility in the hip.
Hip dysplasia is a condition often seen in giant or large breed dogs, however smaller breeds can also suffer from this painful joint condition. 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.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
In dogs, hip dysplasia is primarily hereditary. Genetics are the leading factor om the development of this 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 health issue, other factors may make the genetic predisposition much worse. Poor management of weight, accelerated growth and some kinds of exercise can all play a role in the development of this condition in dogs. Obesity, for example, 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.
Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia
Every dog is going to display symptoms of hip dysplasia somewhat differently. The condition generally starts to develop when a puppy is about 5 months old but may not even become apparent until your dog reaches their senior years or middle age.
Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:
- Lameness in hind end
- Back legs are stiff when he walks
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
- Decreased range of motion
- 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
- Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Whenever a dog comes in for an exam, your vet will check them for signs that may indicate hip dysplasia. During routine physical exams, your vet will also check in on the health and condition of each of their major 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 ask you questions in order to get a complete health and medical history for your dog, including a rundown of specific symptoms, and any injuries that may have caused them. 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 to chart a course of action for treatment.
Treatment and Surgery for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
The treatment options for hip dysplasia depending on the severity of your pup's condition. Vets may recommend treatments as simple as changes to their lifestyle like diet and exercise, or more intense treatments like pain medications or surgery.
Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options and Cost
When it comes to the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs, there are 3 main surgical options available:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
FHO is a procedure that can both benefit young and mature dogs. This kind of surgery involves the removal of the femoral heal of the hip joint altogether, allowing your pup's body to create a "false joint" itself. This will decrease the discomfort related to hip dysplasia. While this procedure likely won't return full mobility, it will reduce pain and discomfort.
Your pup's size and age, as well as the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia, will all affect the price of FHO surgery. The cost of this dog hip dysplasia surgery usually ranges 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 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 then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint. The cost of this treatment varies but is likely to be in the range of $3,000 or more for both hips.
After these surgeries, your dog will require a number of weeks of reduced activity before they will be able to to fully enjoy a leash walk again. They will also require routine physical rehabilitation for their full mobility to return. It generally take between 4 weeks and 6 weeks for a dog to recover from this surgical option.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
In many cases total hip replacement 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. Cost of THR for hip dysplasia in dogs can be anywhere between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 or more depending on your dog's condition, size, age, overall health and other factors. If your dog is affected in both hips, surgery can cost roughly $14,000 or more, including pre-surgical blood work, surgery, anesthesia and all medications.
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.
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.