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Veterinary Surgery in Auburn CA

Hip Dysplasia in Larger Dogs: 4 Orthopedic Surgery Options

By April 1, 2024May 9th, 2024No Comments

Navigating the rough waters of hip dysplasia with our big-hearted, larger breed dogs is a journey many pet owners know all too well. It’s a path we’ve walked alongside our own furry family members, learning firsthand that stepping in early can make a world of difference.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the ins and outs of hip dysplasia, unpacking the surgical solutions available, and guiding you on how to wrap your loving care around your dog post-surgery.

Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Larger Dogs

Hip dysplasia in larger dogs is a genetic condition where the hip joint does not develop correctly. This improper fit can lead to pain and difficulty in movement for affected dogs. It’s particularly common in large and giant-breed dogs, stemming from their genetic makeup.

Orthopedic surgery options for treating this condition include total hip replacement (THR) and femoral head ostectomy (FHO). Total hip replacement offers the most effective relief by replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one.

On the other hand, femoral head ostectomy involves removing part of the hip bone to reduce discomfort. Both procedures aim to improve a dog’s quality of life by addressing pain at its source.

Common Causes

  • Genetics play a major role in the development of hip dysplasia, especially in large and giant breed dogs known for their predisposition to this condition. Dogs inherit poor hip structures or specific genes associated with hip dysplasia from their parents.
  • Poor weight management and nutrition can exacerbate the risk of developing hip dysplasia. Overfeeding puppies, especially those of larger breeds prone to joint issues, can lead to rapid growth and additional stress on developing joints.
  • Lack of proper exercise or too much high-impact activity at a young age may also contribute to the development of canine hip dysplasia. Puppies should engage in activities that do not put excessive pressure on their hips.
  • Environmental factors such as slippery floors or improper sleeping conditions can affect the proper development of a dog’s hip joints, leading to an increased likelihood of canine hip dysplasia.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

  • Difficulty standing up
  • Limping
  • Reluctance to run or jump
  • Showing signs of discomfort in the hip area

These signs of hip dysplasia can vary in severity but generally worsen without treatment.

Diagnosing canine hip dysplasia involves a thorough examination by a veterinarian who may use X-rays and CT scans to assess the degree of joint abnormality. Early detection is crucial for managing this condition effectively. The vet might also perform physical tests to evaluate pain response and range of motion in the hips.

Orthopedic Surgery Options for Hip Dysplasia


TPLO, or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, stands out as a significant orthopedic surgery option for dogs dealing with the discomfort of hip dysplasia. This procedure reconfigures the tibia’s structure so that the dog’s weight is supported in a more stable manner, bypassing the need for a functional ACL.

Surgeons cut and rotate the tibial plateau, then secure it in its new position with plates and screws. This adjustment helps to alleviate pain and improves mobility for our canine friends.

Recovery from TPLO surgery involves careful management and patience. Dogs usually show improvement fairly quickly, but require several months to fully recover. It’s crucial for them to avoid strenuous activities during this period to ensure proper healing.

Lateral Suture (ACL)

We use lateral suture technique to address ACL injuries in dogs. This procedure stabilizes the knee by placing a strong synthetic material around the outside of the joint. The goal is to mimic the action of a healthy ACL, preventing abnormal movement and giving the joint stability during healing.

We carefully select this method for certain cases based on size, weight, and activity level of the dog.

The lateral suture approach offers a quicker recovery period compared to some other orthopedic surgeries. It’s crucial that owners follow post-operative care instructions closely to ensure their pet heals properly and regains full function of their leg.

Cruciate (ACL)

The cruciate ligament (ACL) in dogs, much like in humans, is crucial for stabilizing the knee joint. Unfortunately, larger breed dogs often face ACL injuries due to their size and weight, placing extra stress on their joints.

Orthopedic surgery for dogs with a damaged ACL aims to restore stability and reduce pain in the affected leg. Techniques vary but can include methods such as replacing the torn ligament with grafts or using synthetic materials.

Addressing an ACL injury promptly helps prevent further damage to the knee joint and surrounding tissues. After surgery, a carefully planned rehabilitation program supports full recovery, allowing your dog to return to its playful and active lifestyle.


This procedure involves the use of strong fibrous materials that mimic the dog’s natural ligaments around the hip joint. Surgeons carefully place these materials to stabilize the joint and significantly reduce pain, allowing for improved mobility and a better quality of life.

TightRope surgery stands out due to its minimally invasive nature compared with traditional methods like total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy. Dogs tend to recover more quickly, experiencing less discomfort during their rehabilitation process.

Recovery and Care for Dogs After Orthopedic Surgery

After your dog undergoes orthopedic surgery, their journey to recovery begins immediately. We focus on providing a comfortable environment and strict adherence to post-operative care instructions to ensure a smooth healing process.

Preparing for Surgery

  1. We start by scheduling a thorough examination with our veterinarian to confirm that hip dysplasia is the problem and to decide which orthopedic surgery option is best for our dog.
  2. Next, we prepare our home for post-surgery care. This involves setting up a comfortable recovery area that’s easy for our dog to access without needing to climb stairs or jump onto furniture. Ensuring everything they need is within paw’s reach will make their recovery smoother.
  3. We also stock up on necessary supplies ahead of time, such as medications prescribed by the vet, food that’s easy on the stomach since anesthesia can cause nausea, and ice packs or heating pads as recommended by canine orthopedic specialists.
  4. Lastly, fasting is important before any surgical procedure. We follow the vet’s instructions closely regarding withholding food and water prior to surgery day — usually this means no food after midnight but specifics can vary.

What to Expect During and after Surgery

During surgery for hip dysplasia, veterinarians perform precise operations like total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy to address your dog’s discomfort. We maintain a sterile environment and use anesthesia to ensure your pet feels no pain throughout the procedure.

Your dog’s safety and comfort are our top priorities, closely monitoring their vital signs until they wake up.

After the surgery, recovery time varies based on the specific operation performed—be it total hip replacement or another orthopedic surgery option. We prioritize effective pain management, helping your dog through a smooth transition from hospital to home care.

You’ll play an essential role in their rehabilitation process, following our guidance on rest, medication schedules, and physical therapy exercises designed to strengthen their muscles without overexertion.

Post-Operative Care and Rehabilitation

After your dog undergoes orthopedic surgery for hip dysplasia, they will need careful post-operative care to ensure a smooth recovery. The first few weeks are crucial for healing. We must keep our dogs as calm and still as possible to protect the surgical site from stress and strain.

Pain management is a key aspect of this phase, with medications often prescribed by the vet to help ease discomfort.

Rehabilitation plays a vital role in helping our dogs regain strength and mobility. This includes controlled exercises, which we should introduce gradually based on the veterinarian’s recommendations.

Physical therapy may also be beneficial, incorporating techniques like hydrotherapy or gentle massage to aid in muscle rebuilding and joint flexibility. Keeping follow-up appointments allows us to monitor progress and adjust care plans accordingly, ensuring our furry friends get back on their paws safely and effectively.

Prevention and Advice for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Proper Nutrition and Exercise

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing hip dysplasia and maintaining joint health in large breed dogs. Feeding our furry friends high-quality food that meets their specific nutritional needs can help manage their weight.

Keeping a dog at a healthy weight reduces the stress on its hips, which is essential for breeds prone to hip dysplasia. Supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine can also support joint health, though consulting with a veterinarian before starting any supplement is key.

Regular exercise helps keep dogs fit and prevents obesity, further lowering the risk of developing hip dysplasia. Activities should be appropriate for the dog’s age and size; gentle walks and swimming are excellent low-impact exercises that benefit joint health without putting too much stress on the hips.

Consistency in exercise routines is important, as it helps maintain muscle tone and flexibility, supporting the joints effectively.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

Consulting with a veterinarian plays a crucial role in managing canine hip dysplasia and determining the best orthopedic surgery options for larger dogs. A vet can provide an accurate diagnosis through physical exams and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.

They also discuss surgical treatments that may include total hip replacement, femoral head ostectomy, or pelvic osteotomy, among others. Their expertise ensures the selected procedure aligns with your dog’s specific needs to improve their quality of life.

Our discussions with veterinarians don’t just stop at choosing the right surgery; they guide us through recovery expectations and necessary post-operative care. Since each dog responds differently to surgery, vets outline personalized rehabilitation plans to support healing.

Recommended Products for Support

After discussing the best practices with your veterinarian, supporting your dog’s recovery and health becomes a top priority. Here are some recommended products for support:.

  • Orthopedic dog beds: Provide comfort and reduce pressure on sore joints.
  • Joint supplements: Ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health.
  • Mobility harnesses: Assist dogs with walking or climbing stairs without straining their hips.
  • Anti-slip socks or mats: Prevent slips and falls on smooth surfaces, protecting weak joints.
  • Elevated food bowls: Reduce strain on your dog’s neck, back, and hips during mealtime.
  • Physical therapy tools: Balance balls and ramps designed for canine rehabilitation exercises.

Start Your Pet’s Healing Journey with Orthopedic Surgery Today!

Discover how orthopedic surgery can transform your large dog’s life if they suffer from hip dysplasia. The right procedure, such as a total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy, leads to pain relief and improved mobility.

These surgical options are practical solutions that target the discomfort at its source. They demonstrate our commitment to enhancing your pet’s quality of life through advanced veterinary care.

Schedule an appointment with Gold Country Veterinary Hospital today, and take a step toward ensuring your furry friend enjoys a happier, more active lifestyle.