Hip dysplasia, or HD, is an absolute dire diagnosis for many dog owners. The disease is associated not only with pain for the four-legged friend but also with extremely high costs of treatment.
Hip dysplasia is characterized by a loose, improperly entwined hip joint. This leads to the appearance of signs of wear and tear of the cartilage tissue and chronic remodeling processes, the so-called arthrosis.
The longer the condition persists, the more severe the changes in the joint become. Therefore, early intervention is the best precaution.
Large Breeds of Dogs are More Often Affected
The dog breeds most commonly affected by HD are large breeds such as Labradors, Shepherds, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Offspring from healthy parent animals can also get sick. However, in principle, hip dysplasia can occur in any dog.
In severe cases, joint changes begin as early as four months of age. The final stage comes in about two years.
Common Symptom: Difficulty Standing Up
The classic signs of hip dysplasia are reluctance or problems with getting up, climbing stairs, and long walks. Bunny jumping is also a sign of hip problems. When running, the dog jumps under the body with two hind legs at the same time, instead of using them alternately. Some dogs exhibit a swaying gait that resembles the swaying of a runway model’s hips. Other dogs can also be markedly paralyzed.
If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, your veterinarian should do a thorough orthopedic examination first. If the examination confirms your suspicions, your dog will have an X-ray taken under general anesthesia. This can cost several hundred euros. Ideally, x-rays are performed on all susceptible dog breeds between three and a half to four and a half months of age.
Possible Treatments for Hip Dysplasia
Depending on the severity of hip dysplasia and the age of the animal, different treatments are possible.
Up to the fifth month of life, obliteration of the growth plate (juvenile pubic symphysis) can provide better coverage of the femoral head. To do this, a lag screw is drilled through the growth plate between the ischial bones so that the bone can no longer grow at this point. The procedure is relatively straightforward and dogs quickly feel well again after surgery. This procedure costs around 1000 euros. After a certain period of regeneration, the healthy life of the dog is possible without restrictions.
Triple or double pelvic osteotomy is possible from the sixth to the tenth month of life. The sink is sawn in two or three places and leveled with plates. The operation is much more complicated than epiphysiodesis but has the same goal. Since the procedure requires more surgical skill, more expensive materials, and longer follow-up care, costs of € 1,000 to € 2,000 per side are possible.
Both of these interventions primarily prevent the occurrence of osteoarthritis of the joints. However, if a young dog already has joint changes, changing the position of the pelvis no longer has any effect.
Mild cases of hip dysplasia can be treated conservatively, that is, without surgery. Mostly a combination of pain relievers and physical therapy is used to keep the hip joints as stable and painless as possible. Another, newer type of therapy is the so-called MBST treatment, in which cartilage regeneration is stimulated by magnetic fields. But even this treatment is expensive: if your dog goes to physiotherapy for about 50 euros every two weeks and receives pain relievers, which can cost about 100 euros per month for a large dog, this form of therapy costs about 2,500 euros per year of life. …
Artificial Hip Joint: a Lot of Effort for a Good Result
In adult dogs, it is possible to use an artificial hip joint (total hip replacement, TEP). The head of the thigh is sawed off, and an artificial metal joint is inserted into the thigh and pelvis. This completely replaces the old joint.
This operation is very expensive, time-consuming, and risky. However, if the treatment is successful, it offers the dog a high quality of life, as it can use the artificial joint completely painlessly and without restriction throughout its life. First of all, only one side is operated so that after the operation the dog has a whole leg left so that it can be fully loaded. If your dog has severe HD on both sides, the other side will be on it a few months after the operated side heals.
The success rate of the operation is about 90 percent. However, if there are complications such as infection, they are serious and can lead to joint loss. The most common complication after surgery is dislocation of the artificial joint. This can be avoided by staying calm after the operation.
Another disadvantage is the high cost of the operation. As a result, the cost of each page is around 5,000 euros. In addition, there are costs for follow-up examinations, medications, and physical therapy, so in total, you will also have to pay another 1,000 to 2,000 euros.
If arthroplasty is not possible for various reasons, the hip joint can also be removed in animals weighing less than 15 kg. This operation is called femoral head-neck resection. The cost of this procedure is much lower (from 800 to 1200 euros per side). However, this means that the dog is missing a joint and the stabilization must be done by the muscles. In particular, severe dogs may continue to experience pain.
So that dog owners do not have to pay only for the costs of the operation, we recommend taking out insurance for the operation on dogs. However, many providers do not cover any costs for hip dysplasia surgery.