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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Treatment

Various medical and surgical treatments are available today that can ease your dog's discomfort and restore mobility. The type of treatment depends upon several factors, such as the age of your dog, the severity of the problem and financial considerations.

Medical treatments such as weight loss, moderate exercise and anti-inflammatory medication will help to alleviate the pain and inflammation around the hip joint.

If medical treatment fails to improve your dog's condition, surgical treatment might be appropriate. Your young dog might benefit from a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). Older dogs respond favorably to two other procedures: a femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) and a total hip replacement (THR).

Home Care

For dogs being managed medically, it's important that you monitor body weight and avoid obesity. You will also want to avoid strenuous exercise – exercise your pet regularly but moderately. Swimming can be very beneficial when available; it helps to maintain good muscle mass and tone while keeping weight off the hip joints. If your veterinarian has recommended medication, you will need to be aware of potential side effects.

If your dog has had TPO or THR surgery, strict rest will be important for six weeks followed by a gradual increase in exercise. If your dog has had FHO surgery, controlled exercise with short, slow leash-walks should be started two weeks after surgery. Carefully observe the incision daily for swelling, redness or discharge.

Preventative Care

There are few things you can do in the way of prevention, but you should consider the following:

  • When selecting a puppy, find out the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) hip score for the sire and dam. You should be looking to purchase offspring from parents whose hips have been evaluated and scored good to excellent. The PennHIP program for evaluating canine hips can provide excellent objective information about hip joints in dogs as young as four months of age.

  • Picking up the problem as early as possible affords your puppy the best chance of finding the right option, whether medical or surgical, to minimize the arthritic changes that will develop secondary to the hip dysplasia.

  • Avoid high-energy diets in young fast growing large breed dogs. Switch young dogs on high calorie high protein puppy diets to adult food.

  • Maintain weight to an ideal standard. If your dog is obese, consider a weight loss program.

  • Encourage a regular exercise routine to maintain good muscle mass. Exercise must be moderate and regular.

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