Although we’d all love our dogs to be healthy forever, sometimes health issues can appear out of the blue, especially when it comes to their hips. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, around 70% of pure breeds will experience a condition known as hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic condition that occurs in all dog breeds and is one that can be difficult to treat. Although some dogs can recover with medicine and a change of lifestyle, most ultimately need a hip replacement to improve their quality of life. Vet bills for such replacements can be extremely costly, ranging from $800 to over $6000 per hip.
In this article, we’ll look at what hip dysplasia is, how you can spot it in your dog, which breeds are more prone to the condition, and how much a hip replacement will cost.
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip Dysplasia is a condition that impacts the ball and socket joint in your dog’s hip. Instead of being smooth like a functional hip, the hip bones grind against one another. This wears down the joint, eroding the bone, causing pain and, eventually, a loss of movement if left untreated. In some cases, this can impact both hips and will require surgery.
The condition can impact your dog from any age and can sometimes be spotted amongst puppies by the shape of their hips and the way they walk. The sooner it’s spotted the better, as the condition significantly impacts your dog’s quality of life.
How Does Hip Dysplasia Impact Your Dog?
Unfortunately, there’s no one sign that applies to all dogs when it comes to hip dysplasia. Some dogs will show symptoms as puppies, while others may show no signs until they are older. Common signs include:
- Difficulty getting up stairs
- Discomfort after exercise
- Difficulty rising after lying down
- Lameness in the back legs
- Poor range of motion in back legs
- “Bunny hopping” when walking
If you spot any or multiple of these signs, it’s a good idea to have the vet check over your pup.
Hip dysplasia can impact all dog breeds. However, some are at higher risk than others. In general, medium to large dogs are at high risk. Breeds include:
- Golden retriever
- German shepherd
- Neapolitan mastiff
- English bulldog
- Great Dane
- English mastiff
- French bulldog
- Labrador retriever
- Saint Bernard
- Old English sheepdog
Overweight dogs are also at higher risk of developing hip dysplasia due to the added pressure on their hips. This risk can be reduced with lifestyle changes if their hips haven’t already been damaged.
The risk of developing hip problems is also genetic. If your pup’s parents had problems with their hips, your pup is more susceptible to developing them too.
Unfortunately, in many cases, medications and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to help dogs with hip dysplasia, and surgery is needed to improve their quality of life.
There are several surgical options used to treat hip dysplasia, depending on your pup’s health, age, and how severe the condition is. Surgery is usually recommended when a dog’s hips are causing them constant pain. Although it can be the most expensive treatment, it’s also the fastest way to solve the problem.
Total Hip Replacement
A total hip replacement (known as a THR) replaces the entire hip joint using a titanium and plastic implant. It quickly restores movement and removes pain caused by the joint. A total hip replacement is often the best option for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia, though it’s also the most expensive.
Hip replacements often start at $6000 per hip, with a total of $12,000 if both hips need replacing.
This fee doesn’t include prior consultations, blood tests, or any other fees during or before the treatment. In general, these will add an average additional cost of $100-$200.
A total hip replacement is the best option for dogs with severe hip dysplasia as it has the highest success rate. However, it’s also a very demanding procedure. Before the surgery starts, dogs will undergo several tests throughout several appointments to ensure it’s the appropriate treatment for them.
Dog Hip Replacements: Costly But Worth The Investment
Although the initial cost of a dog hip replacement may seem high, they’re well worth the investment. In 90-98% of dogs, the outcome of a hip replacement is excellent in both the short and long term. Few dogs experience pain (after the initial recovery) and most have no lameness at all or mild lameness as they grow old.
The investment for a complete hip replacement will start at around $6000, with an additional $100-200 to cover prior appointments and blood tests. For dogs who are still young, this can be a life-changing procedure, helping them live a normal and happy life without hip discomfort.