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Total Hip Replacement at Animal Trust

Total hip replacement is a treatment which is commonly used to treat dogs with severe and long term pain in the hip joints. 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, where we provide this high standard of treatment at a more attainable level, ensuring that as many dogs as possible can benefit from this advanced treatment.

What is total hip replacement in dogs?

Total hip replacement (THR) is a surgical procedure which involves removal of a dog’s damaged head of the thigh bone (femur) — the ball of the hip and the removal of the malformed hip socket. A new socket is inserted into the pelvic bone and the femoral head is replaced with a metal ball which attaches to the thigh bone. 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 the pain and discomfort which has often been a chronic part of a pet’s life.

Signs of hip problems in dogs

Signs of hip problems in dogs 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 standing up or going downstairs 
  • Bunny hopping on back legs when running 
  • Becoming less active/playful

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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.

In some severe cases, dogs may stand with their weight leaning forwards on to 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 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.

A dog who is suffering from long term pain in the hips and is not responding adequately to non-surgical management, which may include use of pain killers, weight control and exercise moderation, would be considered a candidate for total hip replacement. 

If pain is relatively well controlled with management strategies and is in mild pain, a dog 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?

While in the majority of cases total hip replacement will produce an excellent result, this is a significant surgery and not without some risks for your pet, some of which may arise subsequent to the time that the surgery is performed. The most common (although still rare) complications would include dislocation of the replacement hip implants, loosening of the implants, infection or even cracks/fractures in the thigh bone.

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.

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