Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition in dogs that causes pain and reduced mobility, often necessitating surgical intervention. But does your dog really need hip dysplasia surgery? How much will it cost? Our Albany vets explain.
What is hip dysplasia?
Your dog’s hip joint works as a ball and socket. If your pooch is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up their hip have not developed properly and are not functioning as they are supposed to. Instead, the ball and socket grind and rub against each other, leading to continued breakdown, pain, and eventual loss in the function of the affected hip.
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. 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.
What caused my dog's 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 an inherited condition, other factors can exacerbate the genetic predisposition. Poor weight management and nutrition, accelerated growth rate and some types of exercise can all play a role in 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 help avoid hip dysplasia it’s important to consult your vet regarding the right amount of daily exercise for your pup, and the most appropriate diet for their breed, age, and size.
How can I tell if my dog has hip dysplasia?
Every dog is different when it comes to displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia. The condition generally starts to develop when the puppy is about five months old, but it may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:
- Pain while exercising (or a reluctance to exercise, run, jump or climb stairs)
- Back legs are stiff when he walks
- Stiffness when running or rising from a resting position
- Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs
- Grating or grinding of the joint when he moves
- Lameness in hind end
- Decreased range of motion
- Running with a 'bunny hop'
What is the treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs?
Treatment options for hip dysplasia range based on the severity of your pup's condition. Your vet may recommend simple changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise, or more intensive treatments such as pain meds or orthopedic surgery for your dog. 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 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. Dog's undergoing FHO are unlikely to see the return of normal hip function; however, it can be an effective method of managing pain.
After the surgery, your dog could be required to remain in 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 pup to completely recover about six weeks following the operation. Once fully recovered they can resume regular physical activity.
Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
DPO/TPO surgeries are most commonly performed in dogs under 10 months old, and involve cutting the pelvic bone in specific locations then rotating the segments, resulting in an improvement of the ball and socket joint.
Following these surgeries, your pup will require several weeks of reduced activity 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)
In many cases total hip replacement the best choice for the surgical treatment of 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.
Most vets recommend this surgery for dogs that are experiencing considerable pain or 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 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 or recovery time between surgeries.
How much does hip dysplasia surgery cost?
This is a very challenging question to answer since there are a number of factors that influence the cost of your dog's hip dysplasia surgery including:
- The size of your dog. Larger breeds often require more extensive surgeries and may have higher associated costs.
- The severity of your pup's condition. The extent of the hip dysplasia, whether it's early-stage or advanced, will impact the type of surgery required and the complexity of the procedure.
- The surgical approach recommended for your dog. Different surgical techniques, such as total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy (FHO), have varying costs.
- Where you live. The cost of veterinary care can vary widely depending on your geographic location (ie, East Coast vs West Coast or city vs small town).
- The extent of your dog's pre- and post-operative care: This includes diagnostic tests, consultations, medications, and rehabilitation therapy.
While it's difficult to provide an exact figure without considering the specifics of your dog's case, hip dysplasia surgeries can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Total hip replacement surgeries, known for their advanced technology and great success rates, tend to be at the higher end of the spectrum.
Do veterinarians offer payment plans for hip dysplasia surgery?
Veterinarians do not typically allow clients to pay for surgery in installments however, more and more vet clinics offer financing through a third party such as CareCredit and Scratch Pay. Ask your vet if they offer financing plans to help make your dog's hip dysplasia surgery more affordable.
It's also important to point out that many pet insurance policies will cover all of part of the cost of your dog's hip dysplasia surgery. Check the details of your pup's policy or contact your pet insurance provider to find out exactly what your dog's insurance policy will pay for.
Will my dog be ok if they don't have surgery?
Hip dysplasia surgery now may help to prevent the condition becoming more severe and therefore more expensive to treat and more painful for your pup. These surgeries can also help to restore your dog's pain-free mobility and active lifestyle, ultimately leading to a better quality of life.
While your veterinarian can recommend simple diet and exercise changes to help relieve your dog's discomfort, as well as pain medications, surgery is typically the most effective option. If left untreated, hip dysplasia in dogs can lead to progressively worsening pain and reduced mobility over time. This can severely impact the dog's quality of life, potentially leading to arthritis, muscle atrophy, and a significantly diminished ability to perform daily activities.
At Dockery, Mobley & Associates Animal Hospital our vets understand that receiving a diagnosis of hip dysplasia for your dog can be upsetting since the condition is painful and can visibly reduce your pup's mobility. This diagnosis can also raise financial concerns as surgical options can significantly impact your budget. That said, your vet may be able to recommend the most suitable treatment option for your dog based on their condition and your budget.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding horses or ponies. For an accurate diagnosis of your animal's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.