You know that feeling when you take your dog for a walk, 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?
Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when 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 joint where the leg bone rests.
The head of the leg bone forms with the part of the socket that it is held in place by a sturdy ligament joint.
Healthy hips joints are lubricated, and movement is not painful. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket don’t fit as they should.
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 joint 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?
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a hereditary condition that gets worse as a dog ages.
It is one of the most prevalent health conditions in dogs, likely due to poor breeding standards that don’t remove dogs with hip dysplasia from the breeding pool.
Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
If possible, it’s good to be aware of the history of hip dysplasia that occurred in your dog’s parents and breeding line.
Whether or not you have that information, watch out for these crucial physical symptoms 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
- Back legs get very stiff during activity
- Running that looks like hopping
- 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
Treatment of Hip Dysplasia
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:
JPS – Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
This surgery is performed on puppies with hip dysplasia that are under 5 months old.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis changes the angle of the hips in order and enables the bones located in the pelvis to develop properly.
TP0 – Triple Pelvic Osteotomy
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 realigns the femur to the hip socket and does this by breaking the pelvis.
TPO is most successful in younger dogs because it can restore hip function fully. However, it can be a painful surgery and expensive.
Femoral Head and Neck Excision Surgery
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 top (or head) of the pup’s leg bone is removed and replaced with a more flexible joint for a better fit with the hip.
Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Total Hip Replacement is a very expensive surgery and is also the most intrusive procedure to treat canine hip dysplasia.
However, it has the benefit of restoring the hip completely, even in dogs with severe degradation of their hip joint.
As in humans, a total hip replacement in dogs involves the complete removal of the hip joint and puts an artificial join in its place.
The recovery is extensive but long term. Dogs with this kind of hip surgery are able to 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.
The costs not only include the surgery that is needed but also the care post-surgery.
There is the additional physiotherapy, vet visits as well as prescription medication necessary.
The cost can range anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 and usually is contingent on other additional factors such as the severity of the condition and the city where you live.
Will Pet Insurance Cover Hip Dysplasia?
Yes, hip dysplasia is covered as long as the condition is not considered pre-existing.
If it occurs in one hip, then, unfortunately, the other one will not be covered.
Pet insurance is great for those breeds that are genetically predisposed to hip conditions that could occur as the breed matures.
With plans like Healthy Paws, you can save up to 90% on the actual surgery as well as the rehab that might be needed post-surgery.
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!