Hip Dysplasia in dogs - treatment options

X-rays for Wylie, the dog hit by a car have shown pretty severe hip dysplasia, although he hasn’t really been showing symptoms at this point. He’s 3 years old, a GSD. Ideal weight for his size (about 50 or 60 lbs, I forgot to ask the vet), not at all fat. Athletic farm dog. My vet will do a femoral head ostectomy, where he removes the head of the femor and the joint basically reforms itself. The dog is significant’y worse on the left side, so the vet recommends doing the left side first and the right side maybe the following year.

Online research says the FHO is best recommended for smaller dogs. They say for a larger dog a total hip replacement is best. But the internet isn’t paying for this. My vet doesn’t do hip replacements, so I’d have to go to the local orthopedic surgeon. A total hip replacement on one side is $4500 to $6K at the local surgeon. The FHO is $2K there. My vet will do the FHO for $600. I honestly can’t personally justify $4500 (especially if I would end up having to do the other side, possibly). Some other folks just swear by keeping the dog at his appropriate weight, giving glucosamine and Rimadyl as needed. But if surgery is going to be needed eventually, I’d rather do it while the dog is young and has less athritic changes.

Does anyone have experience with the different treatments on their own dogs?


Not hips but elbows (there’s no really sure-fire option for elbow replacement.)

Diagnosed in a one-year-old Rottweiler, per the ortho folks at MSU (including Dr Dejardin, who has done some pioneering work on building bionic elbows, sadly way beyond my means.)

Delay neutering until long bone growth is done.
Keep dog lean.
As much exercise as tolerated, especially swimming. I did physical therapy with him for a while.

He managed to get lots of agility titles and a CH; I watched his gait like a hawk though and kept him at lower jump heights.
I’ve known people who had both the FHO and complete replacement done and apart from some stiffness, the dogs did really well. Some went back to agility competition afterwards.

I’m glad Wylie survived his dog:car incident with minor bruising!

I can’t recall if we’re allowed to recommend other message boards or groups here - PM me if you want a recommendation to one specific to canine ortho issues with a lot of very knowledgeable regulars.

We had a German Shepherd who started popping his leg up when he walked so badly that he almost couldn’t walk anywhere, so we took him to the vet. Vet did what he needed to do and declared it hip dysplasia. We asked the vet what treatment options were and he was very upfront that most things he could do were very expensive and not proven to be all that successful. But he did tell us what worked for his dog, which is what we ended up doing.

According the vet, broccoli is basically a miracle in this situation. The vet would cook up some food for his dogs, then mix it in with their kibble each day. So, that’s what we did. Cheap ground meat (the fat is good for their coats, if I remember correctly), brown rice, broccoli, carrots, and maybe an egg cracked in there. Really, whatever you’ve got around (I know the egg is good for their coats, the carrots for their teeth). We’d make that once a week in a big pot, then mix a scoop in each day with the kibble. We’d also keep broccoli around and use it for treats with the dogs (break off a little tree and use it in place of a cookie every once in a while).

Honest to Buddha, within two weeks, he wasn’t popping his leg at all and was back to walking perfectly normally. For the rest of his life, he didn’t have a single hip problem.

chiroptera - I don’t thin the Dope has any restrictions about talking about other messages boards, but if you’d PM me the info, I’d appreciate it.

Diosa - Wylie isn’t having any syptoms at this point, the dysplasia was only discovered because he did X-rays to make sure everything was intact after the car trauma. The vet wanted to wait at least a few months before doing surgery anyway, so I can try it. I used to make the dogs a chicken/brown rice/veggie stew but got out of the habit (6 big dogs is a lot of cooking!). It certainly couldn’t hurt. Does the meat have to be ground? I used chicken thighs. I’d boil them, them remove them from the broth and add brown rice and cook that while the chicken cooled. I’d debone and dice the chicken and when the rice was done, throw it back in the rice and add the veggies. What proportion of veggies do you use to rice and meat?


We got the replacement done on our Australian Shepherd. Of course, our living expenses were almost nothing at the time; it would be harder to justify now. The vet also told us that it was almost certain to be a permanent fix (true so far) and that it was unlikely that we’d end up having to do both hips, as one was far worse than the other (also true so far).

Let’s see. It ended up costing about the same as it would for you, the rehab was SIX MONTHS (exclusively crated with sling support for going out to pee for the first 2 months or so, no jumping or vigorous activity for the rest), which she hated, she was on some pretty hardcore painkillers (which she also hated), and we slept in shifts the first week or two to stop her messing with her stitches (she hated those, too). It was a gigantic pain in the ass, and she was pretty miserable with the whole thing.

It did work, though. We had it done five or so years ago and her x-rays have shown no issues and no degradation in the other hip.

/edit: Glucosamine does seem to help with our dogs’ joints overall, but the commercial treats don’t have nearly enough in them, and they’re expensive. What we do is buy tubs of glucosamine powder for people, mix up the dose we want in a yogurt/peanut butter mixture, then freeze them in mini-cones as treats. The beasts love them and they do seem to make a difference.

Done, StGermain.

Mostly I used Syn-Flex for horses - fine for dogs, there’s canine dosing info on the label. Quite a bit cheaper than many of the dog formulas, in a malt base. Human joint-support products work just fine too; I liked the Syn-Flex because it was relatively inexpensive and liquid, so easy to give. As Vihaga says, some of the treats/foods with glucosamine added don’t have a therapeutic dose. You want a minimum of 500 mg of glucosamine per 50 lbs of dog once a day.

I also give fish/salmon oil; cheap, I buy the people kind when on sale buy one get one free and share with the dogs. Supposedly a “natural” anti-inflammatory, I can’t find any down side to it so it’s one of those might help/won’t hurt things.

If I remember right, our vet said to use whatever it is you’ve got around-- just make sure there’s a nice amount of broccoli and carrots. So, if you have chicken, go for that-- I can’t imagine it’d hurt. It’s been a while, but I think we’d just use whatever happened to be on sale that week (and not harmful to doggies). As far as proportions, I’d say we ended up at about 1/3 each, since that was the max the dogs would eat veggies before picking them out :D. Experiment, see what your dogs will eat before getting picky. I mean, really, the more veggies the better!

That’s good that he’s not showing any symptoms yet. To me, it’s a bit strange that the vet would suggest full on surgery and replacement before the dog is even showing any outward symptoms. Is that normal? I’d think they’d suggest some preventative stuff-- to stop it from getting worse-- before going straight to surgery.

Anyway, who knows! Maybe the broccoli will stop or slow further damage from inflammation/ wear. And if not, at least you’ll have some dogs with extra shiny coats and nice breath. :slight_smile:

Diosa - The vet didn’t sugest immediate surgery, but my preference is for surgery younger than older, since young dogs recover faster. And to forestall any arthritic changes I can. He was surprised, looking at the films, that Wylie isn’t already gimpy, but said he must have a high tolerence for pain. When they were doing the X-rays, even though he was so sore he didn’t want to stand, they didn’t have to muzzle him while stretching him out for the films.

Wylie’s a good dog. I got him from the high-kill pound on his last day. He and his brother Andy. Wylie and Andy DuFresne. WYlie is named after the famous molecular chef and Andy Dufresne was the name of Tim Robbins’ character in Shawshank Redemption. I figured he had his jailbreak when I got him out of the pound.


This seems odd to me, too. Our dog was showing pretty mild symptoms when we got her checked, and they still gave us the option to wait and see. We just didn’t wait because she was young and the one hip was fairly severe.

/d’oh. missed your post.

Good news- when I got home tonight, Wylie tried to run a little to see me. He didn’t keep it up, but is obviously feeling better.

I stopped at TSC tonight and got some horse glucosamine supplement and some MSM. It was great idea to buy the horse stuff - $$60 gives me 6 months of supplements.


No recommendations except to give Wylie some scritches from a fellow (local) doper.

(and request pics :slight_smile: )

Wylie is too old for this surgery, but I figure other dog owners might be able to benefit from knowing it’s existence if they stumble across this thread…

For young puppies, ideally around 4 months old, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis is a surgical option with a high rate of success. Although 4 months seems young for a hip dysplasia diagnosis, the x-ray method known as PennHIP can diagnose very early.

My sister - a veterinarian - had the procedure done on her golden retriever. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to really know how successful it will be long-term for this dog, as the stupid mutt (well, purebred, actually) has gone and developed lymphoma at the ripe old age of ONE :frowning: Still, her observation is that his hips were much less loose as he walks, though he remains somewhat of an overly-wiggle-bottom for whatever reason.

Good on you for saving Wylie and his brother, and taking good care of your pets!