Total hip replacement at Animal Trust
Total hip replacement is an orthopaedic treatment that is commonly used to treat cats and dogs with severe and long term pain in the hip joints. If your pet hasn’t seen improvement after rehabilitation, physiotherapy or other pain relief techniques, your vet may discuss hip replacement.
The procedure is starting to become more common in the veterinary surgeon field but is frequently restricted to specialist referral centres. At Animal Trust we are proud to offer this service at our Shrewsbury surgery. As a not for profit vets, we’re able to provide this procedure at a more affordable level than some other practitioners, ensuring that as many pets as possible can benefit from this advanced treatment.
What is total hip replacement in dogs and cats?
Total hip replacement (THR) is a surgical procedure which involves the removal of the damaged head of the thigh bone (femur) — the ball of the hip and the removal of the malformed or damaged hip socket. A new socket is inserted into the pelvic bone and the femoral head is replaced with a metal ball that attaches to the thigh bone.
Total hip replacement is most commonly performed on medium and larger dogs – canine total hip replacement is considered the gold standard treatment for severe hip disease in dogs, as it allows animals to retain a good range of movement and flexibility in the hip joint while eliminating pain and discomfort, which can be hugely debilitating and have a severe impact on quality of life. Smaller dogs and cats can also benefit from total hip replacement surgery.
Signs of hip problems in dogs and cats
Signs of hip problems in pets may be quite subtle in some cases, particularly if both hips are affected.
The most common signs to look out for are:
- Hip pain
- Limping on one or both back legs
- Stiffness after resting
- Difficulty jumping
- Difficulty standing up or going downstairs
- Bunny hopping on back legs when running
- Becoming less active/playful
In some cases, the problem is a developmental issue such as hip dysplasia, which may start to affect animals from when they are only a few months old, although some patients may be older when the problem first becomes obvious. In some cases, hip problems may also be as a result of an injury, such as a fractured hip joint.
You may also notice a difference in your cat or dog’s posture and way of walking. In some severe cases, pets may stand with their weight leaning forwards onto their front legs to relieve the discomfort in the back legs.
Signs of hip problems are relatively common in dogs, particularly in certain breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, although any breed of dog or cat can, in theory, be affected.
Total hip replacement precautions
While total hip replacement is considered the best form of treatment for hip disease in dogs, there are some precautions where it may not be an advisable option. This is something that your vet will discuss with you prior to deciding whether to go ahead with the surgery.
We would also usually advise that dogs are fully grown prior to undergoing hip replacement surgery to allow the skeleton to fully develop. There should also be no other illnesses present and the dog should be in good general health and condition.
If your pet is struggling to walk or play, you may be considering total hip replacement. There are a number of pain relief methods your vet will prescribe before considering the surgery, such as medicines or physiotherapy. A dog or cat who is suffering from long term pain in the hips and is not responding adequately to non-surgical management – which may include the use of painkillers, weight control and exercise moderation – would likely be considered a candidate for total hip replacement.
If your pet’s pain is relatively well controlled with management strategies and is only mild, they would not generally be considered a candidate for surgery at that time, although this may change if the disease progresses.
What are the potential risks of total hip replacement?
While in the majority of cases total hip replacement will produce an excellent result, this is a significant surgery. As such, it is not complete without some risks for your pet, some of which may occur after the time that the surgery is performed.
The most common (although still rare) complication is dislocation of the replacement hip implants, which usually occurs in the first few weeks after surgery. Other less common and rare complications can include loosening of the implants, infection or even cracks/fractures in the thigh bone.
If you suspect your pet may be suffering with post-surgery complications following a total hip replacement, it’s important to get in touch with your vet straight away.
How much does a total hip replacement cost?
Total hip replacement surgery costs £4990 at Animal Trust.
As a not for profit vet we’re passionate about making dog and cat healthcare as attainable as possible for the largest amount of pets, and offer free consultations and affordable treatments across our surgeries.
If you are concerned about your pet’s health, please get in touch with your local Animal Trust surgery and book a free appointment to discuss with the vet.