You know that feeling when you take your dog for a walk and your pup starts to slow down a bit and his gait is a little off?
The usual culprit is your dog’s hips.
Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s precious, necessary and sensitive hips:
They’re EXPENSIVE to treat if something goes wrong.
Not to mention the pain and suffering your poor canine best friend has to go through.
So that’s some of the bad news.
The good news?
It’s possible to treat hip dysplasia early and possibly even help prevent it. And pet insurance can help you achieve both of those goals.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is a chronic condition in which the “ball and socket” hip joint doesn’t function properly. The leg bone and hip don’t fit together correctly as in a dog with healthy hips.
A normal dog hip has a soft cushion of cartilage lining the hip socket where the leg bone rests.
The head of the leg bone forms the “ball” in the “ball and socket”, and it is held in place by a strong ligament.
Healthy hips joints are lubricated and movement is not painful. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket don’t fit together correctly.
Typically, these dogs are born with normal looking hips, but over time the bone pops out of place and causes a number of issues.
The hip socket of dysplastic dogs isn’t as deep as healthy dogs, so the bone easily comes out of its socket. Also, the ligaments aren’t as strong, making it more difficult to keep the bones in place.
Over time, this rubbing of bones wears down the cartilage cushion and becomes very painful for dogs.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease that gets worse as a dog ages.
It is one of the most prevalent health pre-existing conditions in dogs, likely due to poor breeding standards that don’t remove dogs with hip dysplasia from the breeding pool.
If possible, it’s important to know the history of hip dysplasia in your dog’s parents and breeding line.
Whether or not you have that information, watch out for these crucial physical signs of hip dysplasia:
- Pain or discomfort when exercising
- Reluctance to engage in physical activity
- Favoring the legs or hips when active, sitting, or lying down
- Stiffened back legs during activity
- Running that looks like a bunny hop
- Difficulty getting up
- Muscle loss in hind legs
- Decreased interest in activities your dog used to enjoy
Dogs Most Likely to Suffer From Hip Dysplasia
Some dogs are more genetically disposed to hip dysplasia.
Large breed dogs put more stress on their hips and are more likely to suffer from the condition.
The breeds most prone to hip dysplasia include:
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- St. Bernards
- American Staffordshire Terriers
Surgery is the most common treatment option for hip dysplasia, especially for more severe cases of the disorder.
Depending on your dog’s age, there are a few surgical options:
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
This surgery is performed on puppies with hip dysplasia that are under 5 months old.
The Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis changes the angle of the hips in order to allow the bones of the pelvis to develop properly.
Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO)
Triple Pelvic Osteotomy is performed in puppies under ten months old with hip dysplasia and is more invasive the Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis.
In a TPO procedure, an orthopedic surgeon breaks the pelvis to realign the head of the femur with the hip socket to correct the joint.
TPO is one of the most recommended surgeries for younger dogs with subluxation because it restores full function to the hip joints, but it is expensive and painful.
However, younger dogs recover very quickly and show great long term prognosis.
Femoral Head and Neck Excision
This surgery is recommended for older, lighter dogs.
Femoral Head and Neck Excision does not restore full function of the hips, but it does dramatically reduce pain due to hip dysplasia.
The head of the leg bone is removed and replaced with a fibrous joint for a better fit with the hip.
It is more affordable than some of the other surgical interventions offered for hip dysplasia.
Total Hip Replacement
Total Hip Replacement is a very expensive surgery and is also the most invasive procedure to treat canine hip dysplasia.
However, it has the benefit of restoring full function to the hip, even in dogs with severe degradation of their hip joint.
As in humans, a total hip replacement in dogs involves removing the hip joint and replacing it with an artificial joint.
The recovery is extensive but long term. Dogs with total hip replacement are able to fully enjoy activity pain-free.
Are There Any Alternative Treatments for Dog Hip Dysplasia?
For less severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery may not be necessary. Additionally, if pet owners cannot afford surgery, or if they do not have pet health insurance to cover the cost of surgery, surgical alternatives may include:
- Physical Therapy
- Weight loss and weight management
- Nutritional supplements
The Cost to Treat Hip Dysplasia
The treatment for hip dysplasia can be very expensive and cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.
When considering the cost of hip dysplasia surgery, it is not only the surgery that costs money but also the post-operation care.
Rehab, more vet visit follow-ups, prescription medication, and even physiotherapy will factor into the price.
The cost will typically range from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the type of surgery required and other factors such as where you live or the severity of the hip dysplasia.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Hip Dysplasia?
Yes, but you need to insure your dog while he or she is young and before any hip dysplasia symptoms have occurred.
Once they occur, even in one hip, the other hip can also be considered a pre-existing condition which means both hips would not be covered.
If you have a breed that is prone to hip issues, pet insurance will help offset the costs of any surgery or issues that might occur later in life.
Pet insurance can save you up you up to 90% of each bill and can help reduce the monthly price of prescriptions.
And the best insurance companies, like Healthy Paws, even include alternative treatments like hydrotherapy that can help with the costs of post-op treatment.
Other Things to Know About Hip Dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia can occur in more than 50 percent of larger breed dogs.
- Genetic selection by breeders can reduce Hip Dysplasia risk by up to 2/3.
- Over 72% of English Bulldogs have been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia.
- More than 66 percent of pugs were diagnosed with hip dysplasia from 1974 through the end of 2010.
- While the average cost of hip replacement surgery weighs in at $5,000, the cost can be substantially higher depending on your dog’s breed and where you live.
Final Thoughts on Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip Dysplasia is a very common condition in big dogs and even older ones. Because it is so expensive to treat, pet insurance is a great way to help offset some of those costs.
The last thing you want is for your dog to be in pain. Or that you are in the position where you can’t pay for the treatment and relief your dog needs.
The best thing you can do for a big dog or any dog breed that is pre-disposed to hip dysplasia is to sign up for pet insurance when he or she is a puppy and before the condition might occur.
If you are looking for a pet insurance company that covers hip dysplasia, our top 10 pet insurance companies is a great place to start!