The treatment of choice for dogs with hip dysplasia depends on age, size of the patient and severity of the problem. Numerous options are available to treat hip dysplasia. The first option is non-surgical management. Many dogs with mild to moderate hip dysplasia can live with the problem fairly well. Weight management and moderate exercise is usually appropriate. Some form of pain medication is usually needed. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Rimadyl may be needed either daily or intermittently depending on the severity of the problem. Glucosamine and other holistic products may be helpful as well in cases of mild to moderate hip dysplasia (these options should be discussed with your family veterinarian). Acupuncture may also be effective in pain relief. Stem cell therapy is the latest non-surgical treatment proposed by some veterinarians. Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation. Stem cell therapy has no chance of resurfacing the joint with new cartilage despite claims made by stem cell companies.
Canine hip dysplasia that results in chronic pain and interferes with an active lifestyle is best treated with surgery. Four surgical options exist:
- Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
- Double Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO)
- Total Hip Replacement (THR)
- Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) - FHO is best suited for cats and small dogs (5-30 pounds). FHO involves removal of the ball from the ball and socket joint. Scar tissue forms between the remaining bone and socket (acetabulum) forming a “false joint”. The primary advantage of the FHO is lower cost, since no implants are needed.
The prognosis for dogs undergoing total hip replacement is good to excellent. Ninety percent of dogs are literally normal for life. There are no activity restrictions and because ongoing osteoarthritis is eliminated, very few if any require non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like carprofen.