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 Augusta vets answer these questions and more.
Total Hip Replacement
Total hip replacement is precisely that, your dog's natural ball and socket hip joint will be replaced by a metal ball (constructed of cobalt-chromium metal alloy) at the top of the femur and a dense plastic socket (made from 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.
Good Candidates For Total Hip Replacement in Dogs
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 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, or nerve disease. Dogs suffering from arthritic hips with normal hip function are not considered to be 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.
Your dog will need to be examined by a Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon to determine whether they are a good candidate for this surgery.
What To Expect From Your Dog's Hip Replacement Surgery
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 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.
Outcomes from this surgery are generally excellent and many owners report that their dog is able to once again do things they haven't done since he or she was a puppy. Nonetheless, complications can arise in some cases. The most common complications associated with total hip replacement surgery for dogs include infection, loosening implants, hip dislocation, and nerve damage, however these issues can usually be treated successfully.
Post-Operative Care For Dogs Having Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Following your dog's hip replacement surgery, 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 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 are unable to supervise your dog's activities and only short, on-leash bathroom breaks outdoors. As much as possible, 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.
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 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.