If your dog is suffering from severe hip pain, your vet may recommend a total hip replacement to help restore your pup's mobility. So how does hip replacement in dogs work? What is the recovery like? And is your dog a good candidate for hip replacement surgery? Our Westport vets answer these questions and more.
Total Hip Replacement
Your dog's natural ball and socket hip joint will be replaced with a metal ball at the top of the femur and a dense plastic socket made from high molecular weight polyethylene.
The two parts of this artificial joint are sometimes held in place with bone cement, but some vets use ‘cementless’ implants. There appears to be no advantage to one method over the other, with both typically providing excellent results.
Good Candidates For Total Hip Replacement in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from a painful hip condition, such as hip dysplasia, which 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 a total hip replacement include general stiffness, trouble rising from the floor, and a reluctance to walk, run, or climb steps.
To qualify for total hip replacement surgery, your dog must be fully grown (at least 9-12 months old) and otherwise be in good health with no indication of other joint or bone issues. Dogs suffering from arthritic hips with normal hip function are not considered to be suitable candidates for hip replacement surgery.
Your dog's bones must be large enough to accommodate the hip components. Generally, dogs weighing more than 40 pounds can be fitted with an artificial hip.
A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon will have to look at your dog to see if they are a good candidate for this surgery.
What To Expect From Your Dog's Hip Replacement Surgery
All surgeries involving general anesthesia carry risks. In order to minimize the risk of complications due to anesthesia, your dog will be thoroughly examined beforehand and blood tests will be conducted and reviewed.
If your puppy is deemed healthy enough to undergo total hip replacement surgery, they will likely spend between 3 and 5 days in the hospital. In this time, your dog will have surgery and your team of veterinary professionals will do everything they can to make sure that the healing process starts off well.
Many owners report that their dog is able to do things they haven't done since he or she was a puppy, and the outcomes from this surgery are generally excellent. Nevertheless, complications can occur in some cases. The most common complications associated with total hip replacement surgery for dogs include infection, loosening of implants, hip dislocation, and nerve damage, which can usually be treated successfully.
Post-Operative Care For Dogs Having Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Following your dog's hip replacement surgery, your veterinarian 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 give you full instructions on how to administer any pain medication prescribed for your dog.
You will need to keep an eye on your dog's incision site to see if there are any signs of infection, such as swelling or discharge. You may need to use a cone (also called an Elizabethan collar or e-collar) or another suitable alternative in order to prevent them from licking the incision site.
It is important to also monitor your dog's appetite as the incision heals, since decreased appetite can be an early indication of infection.
Your dog's movement will need to be severely restricted for about a month following surgery. This will mean crate rest when you can't watch your dog's activities and only short, on-leash bathroom breaks outdoors. Stairs and slippery floors should be avoided, but if your pet must climb stairs, keep them on-leash in order to keep them moving slowly and carefully.
The first two months after your dog's hip replacement surgery, no running, jumping, or playing is permitted. However, depending on how your dog is healing, your vet may allow you to take him 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 vets 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 to 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.