Hip dysplasia is a progressive, degenerative disease that usually begins when your dog is just a puppy, but is generally not diagnosed until noticeable symptoms appear in adulthood. Today, our Clovis discuss treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs and ways to help reduce the impact of this painful condition on your dog's mobility.
The Mechanics of Hip Dysplasia
Your dog's hip joints are similar to a ball and socket. If your pet has 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. Instead, the ball and socket grind and rub against each other, causing continued breakdown, pain, and eventual loss of function in the affected hip.
Hip dysplasia is a painful joint condition that is most common in giant or large breed dogs, but smaller breeds can also get it. Even though dogs are usually diagnosed with hip dysplasia when they are adults if the issue is severe, it can be seen in puppies as young as four months old.
The condition can significantly reduce your dog's quality of life if left untreated. It causes significant pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally.
The Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects large and giant dogs, such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and retrievers. Genetics is the leading contributor to the development of hip dysplasia.
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 accompanied by other painful conditions, such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs, such as arthritis.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that can be worsened by other factors. Poor weight management, rapid growth, and some types of exercise can all contribute to 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.
To prevent your dog from developing hip dysplasia, it is 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 to Watch For
Each dog is different when it comes to the hip dysplasia symptoms they display. When the puppy is about five months old, the condition generally begins to develop, but it may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. The severity and extent of the symptoms are also dependent on how serious the condition is and where it is in its progression. As their pet grows into adulthood, pet parents should watch 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
Treating Hip Dysplasia in Puppies & Dogs
Treatment options for hip dysplasia vary depending on how bad your dog's condition is. Your vet may recommend changes in lifestyle, like diet and exercise, or more serious treatments, like pain meds or orthopedic surgery, for your dog.
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 often benefit both puppies and young dogs, as well as mature dogs. This type of surgery removes the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, which allows the body to make a “false” joint. This makes hip dysplasia less painful. Dogs who have FHO won't get their normal hip function back, but it can be a good way to manage pain.
After the surgery, your dog might have to stay in the hospital for a few hours or days, depending on their health and other factors. Your veterinarian 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. Generally, you can expect your pup to recover completely within six weeks. Once fully recovered, they will be able to resume their usual physical activity.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
Puppies and young dogs under 10 months old are most commonly treated with DPO/TPO surgeries, which involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint.
After these surgeries, your pup will need to be less active for a few weeks before they can go for proper leashed walks again. They will also need regular physical therapy (physio for dogs) to get full mobility back. A DPO/TPO surgery usually takes four to six weeks for most dogs to recover.
Total Hip Replacement (THR)
Hip dysplasia in dogs often requires total hip replacement, since it is typically the most effective surgical treatment option. The THR procedure 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 the most expensive and a drastic option. Most vets recommend this surgery for dogs who are experiencing considerable pain or who 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.
Your dog may need to be hospitalized for one to three days following hip replacement surgery, and total hip replacement surgery usually takes about two to three hours. 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 three and six months of recovery time between surgeries.
Preventing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Although hip dysplasia is largely a genetic condition inherited from previous generations, there are a few things that pet parents can do to help reduce the risk of their dog suffering from the debilitating effects of this condition.
Choose a Reputable Breeder
The best way to avoid having to care for a dog with hip dysplasia is to select a puppy from a reputable breeder because it is a hereditary condition. A good breeder will know the medical history of the parents and grandparents and know if there is a family history of hip dysplasia in the family. Researching your breeder could save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run.
Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
It is important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight, especially if you're already a pet parent. Excess weight puts additional stress on your dog's joints, which can lead to unnecessary discomfort and joint pain.
Slow The Growth of Giant Breed Puppies
To allow their joints to develop properly, it is essential to slow the growth of large or giant breed puppies in order to prevent them from putting too much strain on them. The excess weight and growth of your dog before its joints can handle it can lead to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and other painful joint conditions.
Supplements & Diet
If your dog is having joint pain or is at high risk of developing hip dysplasia, talk to your vet about supplements like glucosamine and fish oils that could help his joints stay healthy. There are several high-quality dog foods available on the market that contain ingredients to help your dog retain comfortable mobility. To find out if this is an appropriate option for your dog, speak to your vet.
Appropriate Exercise & Play
Different breeds and sizes of dogs require different levels of activity to occupy their minds and to keep their body's healthy. The exercise needs of an Irish Wolfhound compared to those of a Border Collie will be vastly different. Excessive exercise or inappropriate exercise could magnify your dog's genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia. Do your research, speak to your breeder, and consult your veterinarian to get a thorough understanding of the right exercise for your dog. Do not encourage your dog to do exercise that is not appropriate for their body type.
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.