Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Sometimes the hips of a dog may not form properly while developing, this can lead to painful conditions such as hip dysplasia. Here, our La Mesa vets share some information about hip dysplasia, its symptoms and what treatment options are available including pet surgery. 

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Your dog's hip joints work similarly to a ball and socket. If your pup is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up their hip haven't developed properly and aren't functioning the way they are supposed to.This can cause the ball and socket to not function as intended causing a number of painful complications and conditions that will worsen over time.

Hip dysplasia is a condition most commonly seen in giant or large-breed dogs, however, smaller breeds can also suffer from this painful joint condition. While this condition is normally diagnosed as a dog becomes older, there are cases of younger pups being diagnosed after their owners note distress or unusual movement.

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. Luckily, pet surgery in La Mesa can help restore the function of your pet's joints.

Are there any typical causes of hip dysplasia in dogs?

One of the most common reasons behind hip dysplasia is genetics. Hip dysplasia is commonly found to be a hereditary condition and mostly found in large and giant breeds of dogs like mastiffs, St. Bernards, retrievers, Rottweilers and bulldogs, but many smaller breeds like pugs or French bulldogs may also commonly experience this condition. 

If left untreated in the early stages, this condition will likely continue to worsen with age and affect both hips (bilateral). Hip dysplasia may be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs. 

Although hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, some other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Improper weight and nutrition, accelerated growth rate and some types of exercise can all play a role in the development of the condition. Obesity puts abnormal stress on your dog’s joints and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.

Regardless of which breed of dog you own, it’s important to consult your vet regarding the right amount of daily exercise for your pup, and the most appropriate diet for their age, size and breed.

What are the common signs of dog hip dysplasia?

Each dog is different when it comes to the hip dysplasia symptoms they exhibit. Your dog may begin to experience the symptoms of hip dysplasia as early as 5 months old while it may not become noticeable until they are much older. The severity and the extent of the symptoms also depend on how serious the condition is and where it is in its progression. Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:

  • Stiffness when running or rising from a resting position
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Grating or grinding of the joint when they move
  • Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
  • Their back legs are stiff when they walk
  • Running with a 'bunny hop'
  • Lameness in the hind end
  • Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs

How does the vet diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is one of many common conditions which vets keep an eye out for whenever a dog comes in for an examination. Throughout your dog's physical examination, your vet will check in on their physical health and well-being, as well as the condition of each of your dog's joints. They may move your dog's hind legs to identify any grinding sounds, reduced range of motion or signs of pain. If your vet suspects that your dog has hip dysplasia, they will likely recommend blood tests that may indicate associated inflammation.

Your vet will 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 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 charting a course of action for treatment.

Can hip dysplasia in dogs be treated?

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 the different types of orthopedic surgery for dogs? 

When it comes to treating hip dysplasia in your pet, there are three common types of dog surgery that are used:

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 will not see the return of normal hip function; however, it can effectively manage pain.

While 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, which can vary, but includes pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care and medications. 

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

This type of dog surgery is most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old and involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint. As with all surgeries, the cost of this treatment varies.

Following these surgeries, your puppy will require several weeks 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)

Total hip replacement is typically the first choice of pet surgery for hip dysplasia in dogs since it is 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.

That said, THP surgery is a drastic option and the most expensive. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in considerable pain or close to completely immobile. The artificial components used in THR must be custom-made for your dog, and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons. The cost of THR for hip dysplasia in dogs varies depending on your dog's condition, size, age, overall health and other factors. If your dog is bilaterally affected (which is common), the overall cost of surgery may be more but includes pre-surgical blood work, surgery, anesthesia and all medications.

Our vets understand that hearing a diagnosis of hip dysplasia in your dog can be heart-wrenching, as the condition is painful and can visibly reduce mobility. This diagnosis can also cause some financial concerns as surgical options can impact your budget. That said, your veterinarian may be able to recommend an option or combination of treatments that can help your dog recover and regain some of their hip function.

What to Expect During Recovery After Surgery

Recovery from pet surgery takes weeks and can be stressful for you and your pet. To help you to help your pooch sail through the recovery period as stress-free as possible, here are some tips from our La Mesa orthopedic surgeons.

  • Follow Your Vet's Instructions
  • Manage the Effects of Anesthesia
  • Keeping Your Dog Comfortable
  • Restricting Their Movement
  • Managing Your Dog's Pain After Pet Surgery
  • Caring For Your Pet's Incision Site
  • Keeping Your Dog Entertained

How long will it take your dog to recover after pet surgery?

The length of time required for your pup to recover after veterinary surgery will depend on a number of factors, including the type of surgery, your dog's age, general health and rehabilitation needs.

Many orthopedic surgeries for pets take around 2 to 3 months to heal, although this depends on the size and type of animal. For many types of dog and cat surgery, the healing process may be up to 6 months.

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.

Are you concerned that your pup may be showing signs of hip dysplasia or another painful condition? Contact our La Mesa vets today to schedule a consultation.