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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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  • Following TPO or THR surgery, your pet will require a period of six weeks confinement and strict rest, which means no going up or down stairs, no jumping on or off furniture, avoiding slippery surfaces like hardwood floors, linoleum or tile, and just going outside on a leash to go to the bathroom – no walks. If necessary, a towel can be placed under the tummy, as a sling, to assist in walking during the early phase of healing.

  • TPO is usually performed on young dogs and one concern is that your dog might slip and fall. This could result in damaging the implants and pulling out the plates and screws from the young soft bone. In THR, the biggest concern is dislocation of the new ball and socket while the soft tissues heal around the artificial joint.

  • FHO dogs are a little different in that early physiotherapy is to be encouraged. If the dog does not use the leg much following the surgery, scarring will occur that will restrict range of hip motion and consequently leg function. Your veterinarian may demonstrate passive range of motion exercises, to help flex and extend the hip following surgery, to maximize its function as soon as possible. Short, slow leash walks will be helpful early on. Slow walking more than any other gait will encourage your dog to use the affected leg. Some dogs are faster than others in their rate of recovery.

  • In all of these procedures, antibiotics are given intravenously at the time of surgery, but in the case of a total hip replacement, the surgical site is swabbed for the presence of bacteria at the time of surgery, to see if bacteria can be cultured. These patients go home on a short course of antibiotics pending their culture results. If there is a need to continue mediation, your can expect to be contacted by your veterinarian.

  • All incisions will need to be checked daily for swelling, redness or discharge. Stitches or sutures are usually removed in 10 to 14 days from the time of surgery.

  • Most cases will be rechecked at six weeks from the time of surgery. In the case of TPO and THR, most dogs will be using the leg well, placing the leg every step with around 75 percent to 100 percent weight bearing. In dogs with FHO, full recovery may take a few weeks to a couple of months. The owner should be aware that function will at best be 80 to 85 percent of normal, but the dog will be able to run, walk and play and be pain-free for these activities.

  • Dogs with TPO or THR will begin slow leash walks from 6 to 12 weeks, gradually increasing the duration and distance of the exercise. Freedom around the house can be slowly increased, together with access to stairs.

  • In the case of TPO, follow up x-rays will be taken at 6 weeks, 10 to 12 weeks for THR. The x-rays will assess normal healing of bone and stability of the prosthetic ball and socket or plate and screws.

    Prevention In-depth

  • When choosing a purebred puppy, particularly one whose breed has hip dysplasia problems, it is essential to know the quality of the parents' hips, from either an OFA score or a PennHIP evaluation. Any reputable breeder will have documentation to support this information.

  • Having a dam and sire who have excellent hip scores does not guarantee that your puppy will be free from hip dysplasia but it certainly decreases the possibility.

  • With the PennHIP system, a distraction index value (DI) will be obtained. This is a measure of the play or laxity within the hip joint. In simple terms, a dog with hip dysplasia should have more play, more laxity than a dog with normal hip joints. So dogs with hip dysplasia have a higher DI. PennHIP will relate an individual dog's DI to the DI for that breed to give the owner objective information about hip joint quality and the likelihood of developing hip arthritis in the future.

  • Early diagnosis of hip dysplasia will give your pet the best opportunity to address the problem and minimize the secondary arthritic changes that can occur in the hips. Be aware of the clinical signs and monitor your puppy's gait and activities to allow early recognition that a potential hip problem exists so you can bring this to your veterinarian's attention.



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