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Abnormal development of the hip joint in our dogs results in hip laxity and arthritis. This is a genetic condition which causes loosening of ligaments of the hip joints and in the future, results in a less congruent ball and socket joint. All dogs with less congruent or poor fitting ball and socket joints develop secondary arthritis causing them constant discomfort and pain.

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

You, your family veterinarian, and our veterinary surgeons may use multiple layers of diagnostic tools to confirm hip dysplasia in your pet. You may notice stiffness and exercise intolerance in your dog. Your primary care veterinarian may notice a bunny hop gait and hip pain on physical exam as well as some osteoarthritic changes in the hip joints on x-rays. We complete the diagnostic process by performing a thorough orthopedic and neurological examination, as well as follow up x rays under sedation or general anesthesia. Some advanced cases also require a CT scan which we also can provide here at AMSC as well.

Normal Hip Joints
Abnormal Hip Joints

How is hip dysplasia treated?

We divide the treatment options in two categories: Medical management and Surgical management.

Medical Management of Hip Dysplasia

Weight loss: Weight loss is effective in dogs that are overweight since some of these animals’ pain and discomfort arises from the excessive weight the abnormal joints must bear. A simple solution to relieve an abnormal, and painful joint is to decrease the amount of force it is subjected to. We will work with your primary care veterinarian in one on one scenarios to come up with a plan for reducing weight in your pet friend

Exercise moderation: This consists of some form of behavioral changes consistent with what maximizes the dog’s comfort. In some pets deemed a “couch potato”, too much inactivity results in difficulty rising and a stiffness to the gait. Usually these animals improve once they are encouraged to move around a bit; this is commonly referred to as “warming out of the lameness”. The opposite extreme, and a much more common occurrence, is the dog that continues to exercise unrestricted despite having clinical problems. Such unrestricted play results an aggravation of the arthritis, or inflammation of the joint either not acclimated to this level of activity, or unable to perform at such a highly athletic level due to the severity of the abnormal changes present within the joint.

Anti-inflammatory drugs: The flare-up of the joint (inflammation) can be addressed with a variety of pain relieving non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs will not make the animal normal, but will help to return it to its previous (and “relatively normal”) status. It is for this reason that anti-inflammatory medications should not be administered continuously, but only on an “as-needed” basis.

Surgical Management of Hip Dysplasia

JPS: Can be performed in very young puppies up to 4 months. This is a simple procedure which includes premature fusion of the pubis symphysis This procedure changes the anatomy of the ball and socket joint. This is an outpatient procedure and puppies generally go home the same day. We highly recommend neutering or spaying the puppies.

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy: Can be performed in young dogs between 6 months and 12 months of age. In this surgical technique, the socket is rotated to a more horizontal position so that during weight bearing the ball is forced more deeply into the socket, thereby restoring the conformation of the joint to a more normal position. With either two or three cuts in the pelvic bones and stabilizing with a specialized plate, the patient can eventually be deemed normal. The patient is typically kept in hospital for 2-3 days. Normal healing time is about 8 weeks.

Total Hip Replacement: This is the gold standard surgery in dogs who are constantly suffering from the pain of hip dysplasia. Any dog more than 10 months of age without a neurological condition may qualify for this advanced surgical procedure. Just as with people, during this procedure the whole ball and socket joint is cut out and replaced with metal implants. This advance procedure is done on dogs who have failed the medical management of hip arthritis and are painful on a day to day basis. The dog must stay post-surgery for 2-3 days, getting rehabilitation in the form of physical therapy and K laser treatment. Recovery time is 12 weeks, although dogs can be walked on a short leash right after surgery.

Please watch the animation video which shows how a total hip replacement is done in dogs. This video can also be found at www.biomedtrix.com

Femoral head and neck ostectomy: The sole purpose of this form of treatment is to eliminate the pain caused by either the hip joint laxity or the arthritis. Simply described, the ball (femoral head and neck) of the ball and socket joint is removed, technically a “femoral head and neck ostectomy”. This is a salvage procedure.

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Pet Specialists of Austin


3901 Guadalupe St Austin, TX 78751

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