Hip Dysplasia Surgery in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a progressive, degenerative disease that can affect dogs as young as puppies. When dogs are young, they frequently show no visible symptoms. As they grow older, their condition worsens. Our Edgewater veterinarians discuss the signs and causes of hip dysplasia in puppies and dogs, as well as the surgeries that can help.

The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia

The hip joints in your dog are similar to a ball and socket joint. Hip dysplasia means that the ball and socket that make up your dog's hip haven't developed properly and aren't functioning the way they should. Instead, the ball and socket grind and rub against one another, resulting in continued breakdown, pain, and eventual loss of hip function.

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.  Even though dogs are usually diagnosed with this issue when they are adults if the hip dysplasia is severe, it can be seen in puppies as young as four months old.

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 Causes of Dog & Puppy Hip Dysplasia

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 a genetic disorder, other factors can aggravate the genetic predisposition. Poor weight management and nutrition, accelerated growth rate, and certain types of exercise can all contribute to the condition's development. Obesity puts an abnormal amount of stress on your dog's joints, which can aggravate or even cause hip dysplasia.

To help prevent your dog from developing hip dysplasia, it’s important to consult your vet regarding the amount of daily exercise your pup requires, and the most appropriate diet for their breed, age, and size.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies & Dogs

When it comes to the symptoms of hip dysplasia, every dog is different. The condition usually appears around the age of five months in puppies, but it may not be noticeable until your dog is in their middle or senior years. The severity and scope of the symptoms are also determined by the severity of the condition and its stage of progression. As their dog matures, pet parents should keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • 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 Dogs Are Diagnosed With Hip Dysplasia

When your dog comes in for an examination, your veterinarian will look for signs of hip dysplasia. Your veterinarian will examine your dog's physical health as well as the condition of all of their joints during their regular physical exams. Your veterinarian may move your dog's hind legs to listen for grinding noises, signs of pain, or a reduction in range of motion. If your veterinarian suspects your dog has hip dysplasia, blood tests to detect inflammation as a result of the disease may be recommended.

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.

Treating Hip Dysplasia in Puppies & Dogs

Hip dysplasia treatment options vary depending on the severity of your dog's condition. Your veterinarian may suggest simple lifestyle changes for your dog, such as diet and exercise, or more intensive treatments, such as pain medication or orthopedic surgery.

The Types of Hip Dysplasia Surgery

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 be beneficial to both puppies and older dogs. The femoral head (ball) of the hip joint is removed, allowing the body to create a "false" joint that relieves the discomfort associated with hip dysplasia. FHO is unlikely to result in the return of normal hip function in dogs, but it can be an effective pain management method.

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 dog's recovery from this hip dysplasia surgery to be around six weeks. Once fully recovered, they can continue their usual physical activity.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

DPO/TPO surgeries are most commonly performed in puppies and young 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.

Following these procedures, your dog will require several weeks of reduced activity before being able to take proper leashed walks again, as well as regular physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) to regain full mobility (although you may notice an improvement in joint stability within as little as four weeks). After DPO/TPO surgery, most dogs will recover in four to six weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

In many cases, total hip replacement is the best surgical treatment option for 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 for 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 the 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 of recovery time between surgeries.

Our veterinarians at Animal General understand how upsetting it can be to learn that your dog has hip dysplasia. The condition is painful and can significantly limit your dog's mobility. This diagnosis may also cause financial concerns, as surgical treatments can have a significant financial impact. However, depending on your dog's condition and your financial situation, your veterinarian may be able to recommend the best treatment option for them.

The Cost of Your Dog's Hip Dysplasia Surgery

The precise cost of your dog or puppy's hip dysplasia surgery will depend on various factors including:

  • The type of surgery used
  • The severity of your pup's condition
  • Your dog's age and size
  • The overall health of your pooch
  • Your location
  • How many hips (one or both) require surgery

Pre-surgical bloodwork, anesthesia, any medications required, the surgery itself, and post-surgical care may all be included or excluded from the cost of your dog's procedure. Get a price quote for your dog's hip dysplasia treatment and surgery from your veterinarian.

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.

Is your puppy or adult dog exhibiting symptoms of hip dysplasia? Contact our Edgewater vets to schedule an examination for your pooch today.