Many dogs today develop a condition called hip dysplasia.
There is an increasing number of qualified veterinarians out there that are becoming very good at rectifying the hip problems that many dogs develop. There is a lot of information to be found about the different surgeries and their pros and cons. However, it is not very easy information to locate and can be confusing to sift through when trying to make a decision about which surgery to have and what will be best for your dog.
Many animal professionals agree that the hips of dogs should be tested within the first two years of their life. This is because, if they should need surgery, they are still in the growth stage, with plenty of energy for rehabilitation exercises.
There are essentially three types of surgeries that are possible. The list from least invasive to most invasive is the femoral head, triple pelvic osteotomy, and total hip replacement.
The femoral head is a process where the vet goes in, cuts off the tops of the ball from the ball and socket joint on the femur bone and finishes. The trick to this surgery is rehabilitation. Through exercise, the muscles develop around the joint and take over all the action. Essentially there is no longer any hip joint. Nothing is connected beside the muscles around the hip.
The positives of this surgery include the lower cost which is between $1000. and $2000. depending on your vet and the recuperation time. Also, the bonus will no longer rub against each other so they will never get arthritis in that area later on in life. Other pluses are that no foreign materials like implants or cement are used so the likelihood of infection is less.
The negative of the surgery is the time needed to exercise the dog after the surgery. Walks with a sling under the belly, and hip extension exercises while held down are very intensive for at least 6-10 weeks after the surgery. Continued exercise will help and increase the muscles more every day. After that, stair climbing and running will most likely be possible after about 3 to 6 months and normal life will be led.
The next surgery possibility is a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). In this surgery, the vet cuts the pelvis in 4 places, rotates out the socket and pelvis to more firmly meet the ball of the joint, and then inserts 2 plates screwed into the pelvis to hold everything in place.
The positives are that after recovery, the exercises and stretching are less extensive. The joints are now put into the place where they should have been all along.
The negatives to TPO include the possibility that the body will reject the plates, cement, or other materials used in the surgery. The whole process is more invasive than the femoral head and costs anywhere from $2000-$3500. Some candidates for this surgery have had tremendous success because of the perfect joint that it does create.
The third alternative is total hip replacement. This involves taking out both the ball and socket bones and replacing them with new ones from titanium or other material. The new joint is arthritis free as no bones are rubbing against each other anymore.
The recovery time is extensive being from 2-4 months. The cost is about $4000 to $6000. The body may reject the material or get an infection from it. The invasive procedure may be so much for the dog that they do not make it through the surgery.
The positives would be that the new hip is very strong and long-lasting. Once recovered, probably no problems would ever come up again.
In summary, the three alternatives are all better than not doing anything at all and letting the dog suffer. Being informed will help everyone to make a better decision for the dog. The least invasive alternative of the femoral head requires the most exercises, stretching, and rehab work on the part of the owners but has the least number of unknowns involved as far as infection, costs, and reactions to invasive surgery.
Finding the correct specialist is also a key part of the decision. Try to locate the best, most practiced doctor with many experiences in your specific type of surgery.
Good luck. Love your dogs.