Dogs, especially large dogs, are prone to this degenerative disease of the pelvic joint. Hip dysplasia in dogs can cause extreme lameness and pain in larger dogs and while the condition can be quite disabling, there are many new surgical treatments that often restore function to the affected joints. Hip dysplasia happens when the top of the femur does not fit into the hip joint properly and this problem usually presents in fairly young dogs. Hip dysplasia puts extra stress on the hip joint and can cause the joint capsule to rip.
Older animals with hip dysplasia are often suffering from osteoarthritis causing the cartilage in the joint to break down. The femur and the joint itself may have both degenerated in older dogs with hip dysplasia causing the characteristic lameness and pain. When detected early, hip dysplasia may be corrected by a triple pelvic osteotomy wherein the pelvis is cut into 3 pieces and realigned so the femur and hip joint fit together properly. Generally speaking, dogs with hip dysplasia that have undergone triple pelvic osteotomy will require 6 to 8 weeks for recovery so that the bones in the hip heal well.
In more severe cases of hip dysplasia, dogs may need to have a femoral head and neck osteotomy wherein the head and neck of the femur are completely removed. In this case, the muscles of the hind leg strengthen to form a so-called muscular joint. While dogs that have undergone femoral head and neck osteotomy may lose some mobility, they can function normally in day-to-day life. After this surgery, dogs should get moving right away and will almost always require some post-operative physical therapy.
Finally, some dog owners will consider a total hip replacement for dogs with serious hip dysplasia. The procedure is expensive but can restore normal hip function. In this treatment, the head of the femur is removed and replaced with a stainless steel implant. Again, recovery from hip replacement surgery will require 6 to 8 weeks.