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Hip Replacement for Dogs

If your dog consistently suffers from significant hip pain, your veterinarian might suggest a treatment solution like hip replacement. Curious about what to anticipate during the procedure and how to best care for your dog afterward? Our vets in Santa Rosa discuss insights on all aspects of total hip replacement surgery for dogs.

Hip Replacement Surgery For Dogs

A total hip replacement involves precisely replacing your dog's natural ball-and-socket hip joint. The procedure entails substituting the existing joint with a metal ball, crafted from a cobalt-chromium metal alloy, positioned at the top of the femur, and a sturdy plastic socket, made from high molecular weight polyethylene plastic, located in the pelvis.

While bone cement is commonly employed to secure the two components of this prosthetic joint, some veterinary surgeons opt for 'cementless' implants. Notably, the two methods seem to have no discernible advantage, as both typically yield excellent results. 

Is Hip Replacement Surgery Ideal For Every Dog?

If your dog is grappling with a painful hip condition like hip dysplasia, impairing their mobility and activity levels, total hip replacement surgery could be a viable solution.

Indications that your dog may benefit from this procedure include overall stiffness, difficulty rising from the floor, and an aversion to activities such as walking, running, or climbing stairs.

For your dog to be eligible for total hip replacement surgery, they must be fully grown (at least 9-12 months old) and in good health with no signs of other joint or bone issues or nerve disease. Dogs experiencing arthritic hips with normal hip function are not deemed suitable candidates for hip replacement surgery.

Your dog's bones must also be sufficient to accommodate the prosthetic hip components. Generally, dogs weighing over 40 pounds can be outfitted with an artificial hip.

What Happens During Your Dog's Hip Replacement?

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 the hospital. During this time, your dog's surgery will be performed, and your team of veterinary professionals will do all they can to ensure the healing process starts.

Outcomes from this surgery are generally excellent, and many owners report that their dogs can do things they haven't done since they were 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.

Following Your Dog's Hip Replacement Surgery

After your canine companion undergoes hip replacement surgery, your veterinary team will provide comprehensive post-operative guidelines tailored to your pup's care. Adhering meticulously to these instructions is crucial to minimize the risk of complications. Additionally, your vet will furnish explicit guidance on administering any prescribed pain medications to ensure your pup's well-being.

Vigilance is key in monitoring your dog's incision site for potential signs of infection, such as swelling or discharge. Typically, your dog will be required to don a cone (also referred to as Elizabethan collars or e-collars) or a suitable alternative to deter them from licking the incision site.

Maintaining a watchful eye on your dog's appetite during the healing process is imperative, as a diminished appetite can be an early indicator of infection.

For approximately a month post-surgery, strict restrictions on your dog's movement are imperative. This entails crate rest during unsupervised periods and brief, on-leash outdoor bathroom breaks. It's advisable to minimize exposure to stairs and slippery surfaces. If ascending stairs is unavoidable, ensure your pet is on a leash to facilitate slow and cautious movement.

During the initial 2 months following the hip replacement procedure, activities like running, jumping, and playing are strictly prohibited. However, based on your dog's healing progress, your vet might permit short on-leash walks during the second month.

While these restrictions may initially seem stringent, it is essential to recognize that adhering to your vet's guidance and enforcing severe activity limitations for 2 months contribute significantly to your dog's optimal healing. This disciplined approach paves the way for your furry friend to reclaim a joyful, active, and pain-free life post-recovery.

A follow-up appointment at your vet's office, scheduled approximately 10 to 14 days post-surgery, will involve the removal of stitches or staples, ensuring your pet's continued progress and well-being.

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.

Is your dog showing symptoms associated with hip pain? Contact our veterinary team at Montecito Veterinary Center today to book an examination for your dog.

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