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Can Dog Hip Dysplasia Heal on its Own?
No, canine hip dysplasia cannot heal on its own. Once the dog’s hip joint becomes dysplastic, it cannot go back into a normal hip. However, treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs can be successful, and the dog’s quality of life is kept to an optimal level.
Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition. Large breed dogs and giant breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Saint Bernards have a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia. This condition occurs when the hip’s ball and socket joint structures (head of femur and acetabulum) grow at different rates resulting in joint laxity and osteoarthritis.
The clinical signs of hip dysplasia are limping or lameness, decreased range of motion, muscle mass loss, and a characteristic bunny hop gait (the dog‘s back legs move simultaneously).
The development of hip dysplasia can occur early onset – when the young dog is only six months of age. Once diagnosed, a prompt and adequate treatment plan is required for effective management.
What is the Best Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
There is no universal best treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs; it is dependent on factors such as the dog’s age, breed, lifestyle, and the severity of the joint laxity and damage.
To determine the right strategy, the veterinarian will take radiographs (x-rays) of the dog’s hips. Once the x-rays are evaluated, the veterinarian will recommend the best approach. It may be warranted to include a multi-modal approach where different treatment options are used simultaneously.
Below, we will thoroughly review some of the treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs.
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Surgical Treatment Options for Canine Hip Dysplasia
When it comes to surgical treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs, there are several options. The ideal option depends on many factors. Talk to your trusted veterinary surgeon and ask for advice on the ideal course based on your dog’s individual needs.
Double (DPO) or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). DPO, same as TPO surgery, is recommended for young dogs (usually no more than six months of age) whose hips do not show any signs of osteoarthritis. The goal of double and triple pelvic osteotomy is to fixate the femoral head into the acetabulum. In the past, this was the main surgical treatment option for hip dysplasia in dogs. Today, it is frequently replaced with newer approaches.
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO). Femoral head ostectomy is recommended for dogs weighing less than 50 pounds. The surgery and recovery are more successful in physically active dogs. The procedure is based on removing the head and neck of the femur and the formation of a false joint – the femur is stabilized to the pelvic bone through muscle and scar tissue. This is the reason why the procedure is not indicated for large breed dogs.
Total Hip Replacement Surgery (THR). Total hip replacement is the most efficient surgical treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs, but it is also the most expensive one. It includes removal of the damaged bone and cartilage and placing prosthetic components. Total hip replacement is suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes – its only drawback is the hefty price tag. If both hips are dysplastic, they need to be changed one at a time.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS). Juvenile pubic symphysiodesis is a minimally invasive surgical treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs that changes the conformation of the hip joint. The surgery is simple and rarely linked with complications. However, it needs to be performed early on – ideally when the dog is around four to five months old. Older dogs are not candidates for juvenile pubic symphysiodesis.
Can Dogs Live With Hip Dysplasia Without Surgery?
Yes, dogs can live with hip dysplasia without surgery. In fact, some dogs can do perfectly fine with medical and palliative hip dysplasia management – pain meds (mainly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs), joint supplements, special exercise, and diet regimens.
However, dogs with severe symptoms of hip dysplasia and advanced degenerative joint disease require a more aggressive approach – surgery. Consult with your trusted veterinarian if you are unsure which treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs is best for your pet’s dysplastic hip joints.
How Much Does it Cost to Fix Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
The treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs can cost up to $14,000. Namely, total hip replacement is the most expensive surgical procedure and usually costs between $3,500 and $7,000 per hip.
This is just the initial cost. Keep in mind that the physical therapy and rehabilitation following the surgery can be costly as well, with additional expenses due to long-term medication and food.
Considering the hefty price tags of the treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs and the progressive nature of the condition, it is no wonder the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) emphasizes prevention.
Alternative Medicine Hip Dysplasia Treatments
Today, more and more dog owners are becoming interested in alternative treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs. This is because alternative treatments are efficient and non-invasive. Here are some of the most popular alternative treatment options.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture is the perfect alternative treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs. Acupuncture offers pain relief and relaxation, which results in an increased range of motion. Plus, acupuncture can be used in conjunction with other physical therapy options. If your dog has hip dysplasia, you should find an excellent veterinary acupuncturist.
Hydrotherapy. Another physical therapy treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs is hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy involves several options, but swimming is best suited for dogs with dysplastic hips. Swimming helps build muscle mass and strengthens the hind limbs without putting too much pressure on the aching hips joints.
Physical Therapy. There are different forms of physical therapy or rehabilitation for dogs with hip dysplasia, but they all have the same goals – alleviating the pain, increasing the joint’s range of motion, and improving the dog’s mobility. Physical therapy can be used alone or after another treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs.
Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplements can support the treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs. Joint supplements for hip dysplasia are explicitly made for dogs with one goal – to improve the dog’s quality of life. Dietary supplements feature different ingredients and a variety of forms. If you are not sure what is best for your dog, consult your veterinarian.
Natural Supplements. Natural supplements are also dietary supplements, but they feature natural and health-boosting ingredients. We strongly recommend CBD oil and supplements with joint-friendly components. If interested in CBD products, consider the Honest Paws Mobility Collection. On the other hand, if looking for a non-CBD product, try the Honest Paws Mobility Powder featuring green-lipped mussels, glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid.
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At Home Hip Dysplasia Treatment for Your Dog
Regardless of which treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs you choose, it is still essential to make your dog comfortable. Here are some things you can do to help the treatment:
Weight Loss. Maintaining a lean body within the optimal weight range for the breed is critical when dealing with hip dysplasia. Overweight and obese dogs experience more severe signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia than lean dogs. This is because the excess weight puts extra pressure on the hip joints, thus aggravating the problem.
Diet Modification. Diet modification is another important aspect of managing hip dysplasia. Offering the right dog food is important in two aspects. First, to help with bodyweight management, and second, to inhibit inflammation. Namely, certain foods have natural anti-inflammatory features which can be helpful to dogs with hip dysplasia.
Get an Orthopedic Mattress. Finding the right orthopedic mattress or dog bed is essential. Imagine having to lay on a hard surface while having achy joints. On the other hand, the orthopedic dog beds will soothe the dog’s painful pressure points and alleviate additional pressure on the hips. Plus, they also feature lowered ends for easy access.
Utilize Dog Ramps. Dog ramps can be a life-saving dog product. You can use dog ramps to help the dog get on and off the bed or climb up and down the car. Having ramps enables the dog to reach different levels without having to jump. As you can imagine, jumping is strenuous on the joints and may worsen discomfort and create additional debilitating effects.