Hip Replacement for Dogs

When a dog's hip stops working as it should, it can lead to significant pain and reduced mobility. Our Wake Forest vets talk about how hip replacement surgery can improve your dog's quality of life and get your pup moving again.

What are hip replacements?

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.

This hip replacement can be held in place with or without cement. Either way is similar in the success of the replacement.

When is hip replacement surgery a good idea?

Any canine who experiences pain and decreased mobility due to conditions such as hip dysplasia that is affecting their mobility and activity levels 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.

The bones of the dog should be large enough to support the hip replacement. 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 should you expect after hip replacement surgery?

For surgery, your dog will need to be placed under general anesthesia. While anesthesia comes with some risks, the veterinary surgeon will discuss this with you to ensure you make an informed decision while answering any questions that you may have. To reduce the risk of complications due to anesthesia your dog will be thoroughly examined beforehand and blood tests will be conducted and reviewed.

Your dog will need to spend a few days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. 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 prognosis from this surgery is typically good. Many pet owners claim that their pets revert to a state that they haven't seen in many years. 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.

How should you care for your dog after hip replacement surgery?

You will receive detailed instructions when it comes to caring for your pup after surgery. 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 a 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 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 can expect to bring your dog in for a checkup and to remove any stitches after about two weeks.

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.

Has your dog begun limping or showing other signs of hip pain? Contact North Wake Animal Hospital in Wake Forest today to schedule an exam.