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Hip Replacement for Dogs

Hip dysplasia is an atypical formation of one or both of a dog's hips, causing pain or discomfort when performing even simple everyday movements. In this post, our South Salem vets discuss how hip replacement surgery is used to restore a dog's mobility.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Your dog’s hip joint works as a ball and socket just like yours. When hip dysplasia occurs, the ball and socket fail to function properly. Rather than working seamlessly to facilitate comfortable movement, the ball and socket grind against one another, causing further hip deterioration and eventual loss of function.

Left untreated, hip dysplasia can drastically reduce your dog's mobility. It is very painful for dogs but can also be very difficult for pet parents to deal with, as it can be very upsetting to watch an otherwise healthy dog have to deal with this condition.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is typically hereditary. Though this condition is more often seen in large and giant breed dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs, it can also affect several smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs.

While hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, other factors accelerate the genetic predisposition. Obesity, accelerated growth rate, and strenuous exercise can all impact the development of this condition. The additional weight of obese dogs puts abnormal stress on the hip joints and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.

When hip dysplasia is allowed to progress past its early stages, it becomes increasingly severe over time and will likely go on to affect both hips (bilateral). Hip dysplasia may be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Although hip dysplasia will often begin to develop when a puppy is as young as five months old, signs of the condition may not appear until they reach their middle or senior years. As your puppy grows into adulthood, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising
  • Reluctance to exercise, or climb stairs
  • Back legs are stiff when he walks
  • 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 hind end
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Running with a 'bunny hop'

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

During your dog's routine examination, hip dysplasia is one of the main conditions that your vet will be on the lookout for. During your dog’s yearly wellness exams, your vet will check on their physical health and the condition of their joints.

Your vet may also move your dog’s hind legs to see if they can detect grinding sounds, signs of pain, or a reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your dog may have hip dysplasia, blood tests may be performed to search for any signs of inflammation.

Knowing your pet’s lineage can offer insights into your dog's likelihood of developing hip dysplasia, though it isn't essential. X-rays can also be very helpful in diagnosing the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia and help determine the best course of action.

Hip Replacement Surgery for Dogs

Total hip replacement (THR) surgery is typically the first choice for treating hip dysplasia with surgery. THR is the most effective surgery and involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint. This treatment returns your dog's hip function to a more normal range, eliminating most hip dysplasia-related discomfort.

A total hip replacement is a drastic treatment option for hip dysplasia and is also the most expensive. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in considerable pain or close to completely immobile.

The cost of a total hip replacement for dogs can be steep. This is because the artificial hip components used in THR must be custom-made for your dog. The surgery will be performed by certified veterinary surgeons.

THR surgery usually takes between two and three hours, and your dog may need to be hospitalized for one to three days following the procedure. Expect a 12-week recovery period to allow time for proper healing to occur. If the condition is present in both of your dog's hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, with a three-to-six-month gap between the procedures.

Are you worried that your dog is showing symptoms of hip dysplasia? Contact our South Salem vets to have your pup diagnosed and cared for.

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