When Does Canine Hip Surgery Become Necessary?

Hip surgery for your canine isn't always necessary, but there are some situations where, without surgery, the problem will keep getting worse until your dog is in so much pain he won't want to move. If your dog is showing symptoms of hip joint pain-unwillingness to exercise, perform movements requiring full extension of hind legs, walking in such a way that minimizes pressure on a joint, etc-take him to your vet, who'll determine how serious the condition is.

Hip Dysplasia and Accidents May Require Surgery

Car accidents or degenerative diseases can result in problems to the hip joint. The head of the thigh bone (the femur) is shaped like a ball, and it is supposed to snugly fit into a hip socket. In hip dysplasia the fit between the ball and socket is too loose. The ball rattles around against the socket, deforming both the bones; this worsens the condition overtime.

If Surgery Is the Only Way to Fix It

If it's a serious joint problem which will only continue to get worse, hip surgery should be done as soon as possible. If further degeneration occurs, surgery will be more difficult to perform and more expensive.

For example, a Femoral Head Osteotomy is a procedure where the head of the femur is removed, and tissue from the joint is positioned around the femur, creating a new joint. This is only recommended for dogs weighing less than 40lbs. This procedure is ineffective for larger, heavier dogs who will put too much pressure than the new joint can handle. However, if damage to the joint is significantly extensive, a total hip replacement-- where the ball is removed and replaced with a prosthetic version-- will be required.