If your dog experiences severe hip pain on a regular basis then your vet may recommend a treatment option such as hip replacement. What can you expect during this procedure and how should you care for your dog post-op? Our Douglasville vets discuss everything you need to know about total hip replacement surgery for dogs.
Hip Replacement Surgery for Dogs
Your dog's natural ball and socket hip joint will be replaced with a metal ball (made of cobalt-chromium metal alloy) at the top of the femur and a dense plastic socket (made of high molecular weight polyethylene plastic) in their pelvis.
The two parts of this prosthetic joint are often held in place with bone cement although ‘cementless’ implants are also used by some veterinary surgeons. There appears to be no advantage to one method over the other, with both typically providing excellent results.
Is hip replacement surgery ideal for every dog?
If your dog is suffering from a painful hip condition such as hip dysplasia that is affecting their mobility and activity levels they may be a good candidate for total hip replacement surgery.
Other symptoms that may indicate that your dog could benefit from total hip replacement include general stiffness, trouble rising from the floor, and a reluctance to walk, run or climb stairs.
To be eligible for total hip replacement surgery, your dog must be fully mature (at least 9-12 months old) and otherwise in good health, with no signs of other joint or bone problems or nerve disease. Dogs with normal hip function who have arthritic hips are not considered good candidates for hip replacement surgery.
Your dog's bones must also be large enough to accommodate the prosthetic hip components. Generally, dogs weighing more than 40 pounds can be fitted with an artificial hip.
What happens during your dog's hip replacement?
All surgeries involving general anesthesia come with risks. To reduce the risk of complications due to anesthesia your dog will be thoroughly examined beforehand and blood tests will be conducted and reviewed.
If your pup is healthy enough to undergo total hip replacement surgery they will likely spend between 3 - 5 days in the hospital. During this time, your dog's surgery will be performed and your team of veterinary professionals will do all they can to ensure that the healing process gets off to a great start.
The results of this surgery are generally excellent, and many owners report that their dog can now do things he or she hasn't done since he or she was a puppy. However, complications can occur in some cases. Infection, loosening implants, hip dislocation, and nerve damage are the most common complications associated with total hip replacement surgery for dogs; however, these issues are usually treatable successfully.
Cost of a Total Hip Replacement for Dogs
The cost of surgery can vary depending on many factors. Contact your vet directly and they should be avle to provide you with a more accurate estimate.
Following Your Dog's Hip Replacement Surgery
Once your dog's hip replacement surgery has been completed, your veterinary team will provide you with detailed post-operative instructions for your pup. It is essential to follow your vet's instructions carefully, in order to help prevent complications. Your vet will also provide you with full instructions regarding administering any pain medications prescribed for your pup.
You will need to monitor your dog's incision site, watching for any signs of infection such as swelling or discharge. Your dog will likely need to wear a cone (also called Elizabethan collars or e-collars) or a suitable alternative in order to prevent them from licking the incision site.
It is important to monitor your dog's appetite as the incision heals since decreased appetite can be an early indication of infection.
Your dog's mobility will need to be severely limited for about a month after surgery. This means crate rest when you can't supervise your dog's activities and only short, on-leash bathroom breaks outside. As much as possible, avoid stairs and slippery floors, but if your pet must climb stairs, keep them on a leash to keep them moving slowly and carefully.
No running, jumping or playing is permitted for the first 2 months after your dog's hip replacement surgery. However, depending on how your dog is healing, your vet may allow you to take your dog for short on-leash walks during the second month.
Although these restrictions can seem harsh it's important to keep in mind that following your vet's instructions and severely restricting your dog's activities for 2 months can help your dog heal well so that they can return to a joyful, active, pain-free life once recovery is complete.
You will return to your vet's office for a follow-up appointment and have their stitches or staples removed about 10 to 14 days after surgery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.