When You Should Consider a Total Hip Replacement for a Dysplastic Dog?


Does your pet dog suffer from canine hip dysplasia and his veterinarian has suggested total hip replacement but you wonder is your dog ready for the surgery or not? This article will tell you about what hip dysplasia is and what are the factors that you should consider before going for a total hip replacement of your dysplastic dog.

What is hip dysplasia?

It is a developmental disorder. Hip dysplasia in dogs causes looseness in hip joints. In hip dysplasia (HD) the hip joint is not properly shaped that affects the biomechanics of the hip joint. The hip joint consists of a femoral head and the acetabulum. Consider the femoral head as a ball and the acetabulum as a socket. In hip dysplasia normally the acetabulum (socket) is abnormally shaped.

The altered biomechanics result in osteoarthritis and cause pain and instability.

The hip dysplasia is common in large breed dogs but it can also affect small breed dogs. Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease and it can pass from parents to the offsprings. 

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia (HD)?

It is easy to diagnose the hip dysplasia in older dogs than in younger ones. The younger dogs tend to hide their pain and discomfort very easily and they keep themselves busy playing and exercising. 

The common signs that younger dogs (from 6 to 18 months) show if they are suffering from hip dysplasia are bunny hopping, hind limb seizure, swinging gait, aggression towards other dogs, less playful than other dogs, slowing down during walks and taking rest too often during walks and reluctant to jump. 

As said earlier it is easy to diagnose the hip dysplasia in the older dogs. One of the reasons is that the owner can compare the movement of the dogs with when it was young. Other signs are difficulty walking up the stairs, reluctant to jump, bunny hopping even at the moderate pace, taking a lot of rest after exercise, not willing to go for walk, stiffness while standing up, general stiffness etc. 

What is the clinical diagnosis of hip dysplasia?

The hip dysplasia is clinically diagnosed with the help of X-Rays and the physical examination. 

What is the total hip replacement (THR)?

Total hip replacement has proved to be a successful surgical treatment for those large breed animals who are suffering from the painful condition of hip dysplasia.

This surgery involves removing both the femoral bone head (ball) and the acetabulum (socket) and replacing them with prostheses.  The prosthetic femoral bone head (ball) is made of metal and the acetabulum (socket) is made of dense plastic.

Many surgeons use the special bone cement to put in place the ball and the socket but some surgeons do not use any cement and that type of surgery is referred to as cementless implants.

The researchers have yet not found any advantages or disadvantages of cementless implants. 

When you should consider a total hip replacement (THR) for dysplastic dogs?

The answer is very obvious; you should consider the total hip replacement when your dog’s vet suggests it to you. The vet will not straight forward suggest the THR.

The vet must have tried all other conventional pain and inflammation management techniques and maybe has also tried one or two conventional surgical procedures but none of them has worked out. So as a last resort the vet has suggested the total hip replacement.

The total hip replacement has proven itself a successful surgical procedure and the dogs once again can enjoy the normal lifestyle. 

The age and size of the Dog:

The total hip replacement is recommended for the dogs whose skeleton has matured; the dog has finished growing and is able to go through surgery.

Normally, in larger breeds, the skeleton matures between 9 to 12 months of age. The total hip replacement (THR) has been done on the dogs smaller in age as well whose condition was worse and their surgery could not wait for the skeleton to get mature. 

As far as the size is concerned, total hip replacement is normally done in large breed dogs but due to technological advancements, the micro and nano total hip replacement system has been introduced.

Now the total hip replacement surgery can be performed on small breed dogs as well. It can be performed on dogs and cats as small as 4kg. 

Apart from age and size other things that should be considered before going for total hip replacement surgery is that the dog must not suffer from other bone and nerve diseases and do not have a serious medical condition. 

The compilations related to total hip replacement: 

The most common complications related to THR are aseptic loosing and luxation. The rate of this reported complication is very low as compared to the rate of successful total hip replacement surgeries. 


Total hip replacement is becoming a popular and successful treatment for hip dysplasia. But it is important to consider the surgery while keeping in mind all the factors. Because the aim of the surgery is to give relief to the dogs not to put them at risk.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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