Surgery For Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a painful condition caused by the abnormal formation of one or both of your dog's hips. Left untreated hip dysplasia can become more severe over time, seriously limiting your dog's mobility. In today's post, our Simi Valley vets explain the three most effective surgeries used to treat hip dysplasia in dogs.

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

The hip joint in dogs (as in humans) functions as a ball and socket, but when hip dysplasia strikes, the ball and socket fail to function normally. Hip dysplasia causes the ball and socket to grind and rub against each other instead of smoothly working together to facilitate comfortable movement, leading to further hip deterioration and eventual loss of function.

This condition is very painful for dogs but can also be very difficult for pet parents to deal with since it can be very upsetting to watch an otherwise healthy dog deal with the effects of hip dysplasia.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is often a hereditary condition. Although it is commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs, it can affect a number of smaller breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs.

If left untreated, hip dysplasia tends to become increasingly severe over time and go on to affect both hips (bilateral). In older dogs, hip dysplasia may be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis. 

While hip dysplasia is usually inherited, other factors can aggravate the genetic predisposition. Obesity, rapid growth, and certain types of exercise can all contribute to the development of this condition. Obese dogs' excess weight places abnormal stress on the hip joints, which may aggravate or even cause hip dysplasia.

Signs That Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia typically begins to develop when the puppy is around five months old however, your pup may not show signs of the condition until they reach their middle or senior years. As your puppy grows into adulthood watch for the following signs of hip dysplasia:

  • Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising
  • Reluctance to exercise, or climb stairs
  • Their 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'

How Vets Diagnose Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

During your dog’s regular wellness exams, your veterinarian will check your dog's overall physical health as well as the condition of all your dog's joints.

Your vet may move your pet’s hind legs to check for any grinding sounds, signs of pain, or reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your pup may have hip dysplasia, blood tests may be recommended to look for signs of inflammation.

Your veterinarian will also take a detailed medical history of your dog, including a list of specific symptoms and any previous injuries. Standard x-rays may also be useful in determining the severity of your dog's hip dysplasia and the best treatment for your dog.

Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Treatment options for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia range based on the severity of the condition, and may include lifestyle changes, pain meds, and surgery. There are 3 dog hip dysplasia surgeries commonly used:

Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO)

FHO surgery involves removing the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint, then allowing the body to create a “false” joint. FHO surgery will not return your dog's normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing the pain and discomfort caused by hip dysplasia.

Factors such as the size and age of your dog, as well as the severity of the condition, will all affect the cost of FHO surgery to treat your dog's hip dysplasia, however, you can expect to pay from $1,200 to $2,500. 

Your dog's surgeon will give you specific instructions for caring for your pet after FHO surgery, but you must keep him out of strenuous physical activity for at least 30 days. FHO surgery recovery typically takes six weeks. Once healed, your dog will be able to resume normal physical activity.

Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

In dogs under 10 months old, double or triple pelvic osteotomies are most commonly used to treat hip dysplasia. DPO/TPO surgery entails cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and then rotating the segments to improve the ball and socket joint's function. The cost of DPO/TPO surgery varies, but most dogs will pay around $3,000 for both hips.

Physical rehabilitation (physio for dogs) will likely be required in order for full mobility to return (although you may notice joint stability improve within as little as four weeks). You should expect your dog's recovery from DPO/TPO surgery to take about four to six weeks.

Total Hip Replacement (THR)

Total hip replacement surgery is typically the number one choice for the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs. This surgery is usually recommended if the dog is in considerable pain or close to completely immobile.

THR is the most effective surgery and involves using plastic and metal implants to replace the entire hip joint. THR can restore your dog's hip function back to a more normal range and eliminates most of the pain caused by hip dysplasia.

A total hip replacement is both the most drastic and the most expensive treatment option for hip dysplasia. THR surgery uses custom-made artificial hip components for your dog, and the surgery is performed by certified veterinary surgeons.

Expect a 12-week recovery period in order to allow time for proper healing to occur. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia in both hips, surgery may only be performed on one hip at a time, with a three to a six-month gap between surgeries.

If your dog is showing signs of hip dysplasia contact Park Animal Hospital right away to book an appointment.