If your dog has hip pain, FHO surgery can be an effective way to help treat their condition and give them back their mobility. Our Louisa vets are here to tell you all about the procedure.
Why Your Dog Might Have Hip Problems
Hip issues in dogs can be the result of genetics, old age, traumatic injury, or a mix of these factors.
- Canine hip dysplasia is typically a genetic disorder. Hip dysplasia causes your dog's hip joints to develop abnormally.
- Legg-Perthes disease is another condition that can affect your pup’s hips. This condition is characterized by a lack of blood flow to the top of the femur, leading to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur, resulting in arthritis and/or hip damage.
How Your Dog's Hips Should Work
Your dog’s hip joints function as a ball and socket mechanism. This ball is located at the top of the femur and fits into the socket of the hip bone (acetabulum).
During normal hip function, the ball and socket work together allowing easy and pain-free movement. When injury or disease breaks down or disrupts your pup’s normal hip function, pain and other mobility issues can result due to rubbing and grinding between the two parts. Inflammation caused by a poorly functioning or damaged hip joint can also reduce your dog’s mobility and quality of life.
If you have a small dog, FHO - femoral head ostectomy - orthopedic surgery may be able to ease your dog's pain and restore your pet's normal pain-free mobility.
Hip Conditions in Dogs That FHO Surgery Can Help
There are numerous hip conditions in dogs that can benefit from FHO surgery, including:
- Hip dysplasia
- Severe arthritis
- Joint dislocation (luxation)
- Hip fractures
- Legg-Perthes disease
- Weak muscles in hind legs
Not all dogs will be candidates for this surgery. Your dog would make a better candidate if they are under 50 pounds. This lower weight will be an advantage since the false joint that is created during this surgery can more easily support a smaller body compared to larger breed dogs.
Signs That Your Dog May Have A Hip Condition
Your dog may be suffering from a hip problem if they show one or more of the following symptoms:
- “Bunny hopping”
- Limping when walking
- Stiffness in joints
- Decreased tolerance or motivation to exercise or play
Dog FHO Surgery
During the FHO surgery, the surgeon will remove the femoral head leaving the socket portion of the hip empty. Your dog's leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place as scar tissue develops between the femur and the acetabulum. Gradually over a period of time a “false joint” will begin to form and scar tissue will act as a cushion between the femur and the acetabulum.
FHO Surgery Dog- Cost
The cost of FHO surgery can vary widely depending on a number of other factors. For an accurate estimate, you'll need to speak to your vet because they will need to thoroughly examine your dog to understand the extent of their condition.
FHO Surgery Dog - Recovery
Every dog is different. Following surgery, your pup may need to stay in the veterinary hospital for several hours or several days for post-surgical care. The duration of your dog's stay will depend upon your pet's overall health and a number of other factors. Recovery from FHO surgery usually happens in two phases:
In the days right after your dog's surgery, your main focus will be controlling your dog's pain with medications that will be provided by your vet. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications will help alleviate your dog's pain as well as minimize swelling around the incision.
Your dog should avoid strenuous physical activity for 30 days after surgery, and most dogs will require about six weeks to recover. Your pup won't be allowed to run or jump during their recovery period, however, you can take your pup for short 'on-leash' walks.
If your pet is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your dog's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.
Approximately one week after surgery, the second phase of recovery begins and will involve gradually increasing physical activity so your pet can rebuild muscle mass and strengthen the hip joint.
Slowly increasing your dog's exercise can help reduce the amount of scar tissue from hardening, which will in turn provide your dog with more mobility for longer. Exercise in this phase can include walking upstairs independently, or walking on hind legs while you hold their front legs in the air.
After about a month, if your dog has recovered adequately, your pooch should be ready to resume regular physical activity. That said, high-impact activity should still be avoided at this time.
A mobility aid or dog lift harness can be a helpful tool during the Phase 2 healing process. Pets who were relatively active prior to surgery tend to recover more quickly thanks to the increased strength of muscle mass around the hip joint.
Caring For Your Dog After FHO Dog Surgery
Care requirements will vary depending on your dog’s individual circumstances and needs. If your pup does not fully recover within the typical six-week recovery period, formal physical rehabilitation therapy may be recommended. If your dog seems to be in pain or is not doing as well as expected following FHO surgery, contact your veterinarian right away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.