Hip dysplasia describes an abnormality in how one or both of your dog's hips form that can occur in any breed. This condition causes discomfort and pain when exercising, or even just changing position. Here, our Oakland vets explain some more about hip dysplasia, its symptoms and what surgical treatments are available to treat it.
What is hip dysplasia in dogs?
The hip joints of your pup work like a ball and socket. Hip dysplasia is the abnormal suturing and function of this ball and socket system. When your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, their hip hasn't developed properly and wisn't functioning as it should. The bones of their hip and leg run and grind against one another, leading to a breakdown and eventual loss of function in the affected joint over time.
While hip dysplasia is most commonly seen in giant or large breed dogs, smaller breeds can also suffer from this painful condition. If left untreated hip dysplasia can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life, as the condition causes pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally. Hip dysplasia is also very difficult for pet parents to deal with since it can be very upsetting to watch an otherwise healthy dog deal with the symptoms of this condition
What causes canine hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is generally a genetic and hereditary condition, it being the leading cause in dogs. Hip dysplasia is most commonly seen in larger breeds of dogs like mastiffs, Rottweilers, retrievers and bulldogs, but a number of small breeds of doglike French bulldogs and pugs may also develop this condition more easily than other breeds.
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.
While hip dysplasia is a condition a dog inherits, some other factors can exacerbate a genetic predisposition to its development. An accelerated growth rate, poor weight and nutritional management and some kinds of exercise may all contribute to your dog developing this condition. For example, obesity puts abnormal amounts of stress on your dog's joints and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia, or even cause the condition itself.
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 symptoms of hip dysplasia?
As with other conditions, each dog is different when it comes to showing symptoms of hip dysplasia. Although this condition can start as young as 5 months, it generally doesn't become obvious until the dog reached their middle age or senior years. Here are some of its symptoms:
- Grating or grinding of the joint when he moves
- Signs of discomfort or pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
- Lameness in hind end
- Back legs are stiff when he walks
- Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs
- Stiffness when running or rising from a resting position
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
- Decreased range of motion
How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
Hip dysplasia is just one of many different conditions that vets look out for when a dog comes into their office for an exam. Duriong your pup's routine physical, your vet will check up on their physical health and well-being as well as the condition of all of their joints. Your vet may also move your dog's hind legs to try and identify any grinding sounds, pain or a reduced range of motion. If your vet suspects that your dog has hip dysplasia, they may recommend blood tests that might indicate inflammation caused by joint diseases.
What are treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?
Your dog's treatment options when they are suffering from hip dysplasia differ based on the severity of their condition, from change in lifestyle like exercise and diet, to pain medications and surgeries.
What are options are available for dog hip dysplasia surgery?
When it comes to treating hip dysplasia in dogs, there are three main surgical options that are available to you:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
The FHO procedure can benefit dogs of any age. This surgery involves the removal of the "ball" of the hip joint and allowing the body to create a false joint, decreasing the discomfort caused by hip dysplasia. Dogs undergoing FHO won't see the return of the normal hip function, but their pain will be alleviated.
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, you can expect to pay from $1,200 to $2,500, including pre-surgical bloodwork, procedure, anesthesia, post-surgical care and medications.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
This kind of hip surgery is most common in dogs under 10 months and involves cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations and then rotating the segments, improving the function of the socket and ball joint. As with all surgeries, the cost of this treatment can vary,m but for many dogs it will be in the range of $3,000 for both hips.
Following these surgeries, your pooch 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)
THR is generally the first choice for treating hip dysplasia in dogs since it is usually the most effective. Total hip replacements involve using plastic or metal implants to replace the entire hip joint, bringing the function back to a more normal range and getting rid of most discomfort related to your dog's hips.
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. Cost of THR for hip dysplasia in dogs can be anywhere between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 depending on your dog's condition, size, age, overall health and other factors. If your dog is bilaterally affected (which is common), surgery can cost up to $14,000, including pre-surgical blood work, surgery, anesthesia and all medications.
Our veterinary team knows that hearing the diagnosis of hip dysplasia for your dog can be a gut-wrenching thing. It is painful for your pup and visibly reduce their mobility and happiness. The diagnosis can also come with some financial concerns. With all of that being said, our vets may be able to recommend you an option, or variety of options, for treatments that will help your canine companion to recover and regain some of their hip function.