Can A Dog Live A Normal Life With Hip Dysplasia? The Best Treatment Options

hip dysplasia in dogs

Dealing with hip dysplasia can be among the most distressing health issues for dogs. It increasingly becomes painful for your canine, ultimately leading to osteoarthritis.

And if your pup is one of the larger breeds, the condition can be especially painful and has a greater effect on the quality of their life. It is not easy witnessing that deterioration as an owner.

However, don’t lose hope. There are several ways to adjust your life suitably to deal with it better and reduce your dog’s pain.

And, yes…

This includes both surgical and non-surgical treatment methods, the latter for those too fearful of the risks, or constrained due to other reasons.

But first, it’s important to know more about the condition itself, isn’t it?

What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

You might be aware of the structure of the hip joints. It’s essentially a ball-and-socket joint, which is quite self-explanatory. Naturally, for the joint to work smoothly, the ball should fit perfectly in the socket.

And additionally, there should be adequate lubrication and cushioning for good, painless functioning.

Dysplasia is brought on because of the failure of the joint to develop properly as described above. The laxity in the joint means the ball and socket don’t fit properly.

When they don’t quite fit and are not properly supported by strong ligament tissue that is supposed to hold them in place, movement in the joint leads to further separation and misalignment of the bones. It often leads to the formation of painful bone spurs as the bones rub each other wrong.

All this normally happens due to a complicated combination of genetic and/or environmental conditions. An unfortunate inheritance of genes is the most common reason. But things like obesity, nutrition, and improper muscular development, etc. can also be factors.

It’s one of the more common degenerative skeletal conditions seen in dogs and usually hits early at about 4-5 months in puppies. But it could also develop as a consequence of osteoarthritis in older dogs.

Sounds bad, right? Well, it is, for your dog…

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

The dysplasia may manifest itself in different ways or at different rates in different breeds or individual dogs, these are the general symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain or signs of discomfort while exercising
  • Lameness of the hind limbs
  • Looseness in the joint
  • Narrow stance in the hind limbs
  • Grating in the joint upon movement (a clicking sound may be heard)
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • Noticeable enlargement of the shoulder muscles (compensatory for weakness in hind limbs)
  • Walking with stiffened back legs
  • Bunny hop or swaying gait while running
  • Stiffness when getting up or running
  • Trouble rising from a prone position
  • Loss of muscle tone in the back legs

Can A Dog Live A Normal Life With Hip Dysplasia? – Hip Dysplasia Surgery Options

If you observe possible symptoms of the condition in your puppy, it’s important that you get them further tested. Particularly comprehensive neurological and orthopedic testing. Your vet will suggest the most ideal course of action after your dog has been diagnosed with canine hip dysplasia:

  1. Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis: As the name suggests, this is for younger dogs – usually puppies less than five months old – in whom canine hip dysplasia has been detected. It’s relatively less invasive. The two pelvic bones are fused to allow the rest of the bones in the pelvis to develop in a proper manner. This structural alteration in the joint improves movement.
  2. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO): This involves realignment of the ball (femur bone) and the hip socket, and is suitable only when the damage isn’t extensive. So that basically means, again, younger dogs, who also recover quicker relatively. This is an expensive and highly recommended procedure. TPO often leads to a really significant restoration of function of the joint.
  3. Femoral Head and Neck Excision: This procedure involves the replacement of the top end of the femur with fibrous material. It isn’t quite as transformative as TPO. But for smaller and older dogs who may not recover well from TPO, it’s an alternative that helps relieve pain in the joint, even if function and stability aren’t quite restored.
  4. Total Hip Replacement: As you can guess, this is the most invasive of all the options. And the most expensive. THR is suited for adult dogs only. And ones in which the degeneration is severe. And it’s usually done in cases where there aren’t any other alternatives. The entire hip joint is replaced with an artificial one that gives near-normal function, with one key improvement – without the pain.

Living With Hip Dysplasia – Non-Surgical Options

If you can’t quite afford surgical options that are suitable for your pup, or if your dog isn’t quite ready for any yet, there are several other ways to manage the pain and discomfort of the condition experienced by your pup…

That’s right…

Surgery isn’t the only way. From dietary changes, medication, to therapy and other activities, there are different things you can try.

Dog Hip Dysplasia Home Treatment

  • A vet-recommended diet change including adult dog food and joint supplements for dogs to control weight and maintain joint health
  • Exercises to stimulate muscle health and tone like swimming, stretching, slow hiking,
  • Professional rehabilitation and therapy
  • Accessibility aids like ramps and inclines at home to reduce stress on the hip, raised feeding bowls, supportive harness for walks, dog wheelchair, or dog ramp for easy to access to places, etc.
  • Besides a number of arthritis medications for dogs and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for dogs are available for pain management. Some hemp seed oil for dogs can also help with dogs’ joint problems.

Remember always, that any kind of dog hip dysplasia home treatment involving medication as well as exercise and rehab should always be in consultation with your vet. The frequency and duration of the exercises need to be right, lest they worsen your pup’s condition as well as pain.

And of course…

Never administer any OTC medication – especially those for humans – on your own without your vet’s instructions. That can really be dangerous for your puppy.

We hope you found this post on hip dysplasia dog treatments useful. If you have any inputs based on your own experiences, do mention them in the comments section below.

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