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What is Involved in a Canine Hip Replacement?

By Bethney Foster
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Canine hip replacement begins with a dog’s condition and health being assessed to determine whether the dog is a candidate for the invasive surgery. The surgery then involves replacing the ball and socket of the dog’s hip joint with prostheses while the dog is anesthetized. The dog will be hospitalized for several days following the procedure and will then be on restricted activity for a few months. Canine hip replacement is a surgery that is done to correct hip dysplasia, severe arthritis, or because of an injury.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects a dog’s hip joints. The condition is primarily seen among large dogs and is believed to be genetic with breeds such as Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds being most at risk. Canine hip dysplasia usually occurs when the dog is growing and is a result of the hip joints not matching. It may affect one or both hips and is a painful condition that can affect a dog’s mobility. Most dogs with hip dysplasia and arthritis will need surgery on both hips, though both hips aren’t usually operated on at the same time, meaning canine hip replacement often involves going through the surgery process twice.

Most candidates for canine hip replacement are dogs that have severe hip dysplasia or severe arthritis at a young age. Canine hip replacement can only be done on a dog once it is at least 12 months old. The dog must also be in good health otherwise in order for recovery to be successful.

The dog is most often hospitalized for three to five days when canine hip replacement is performed. The first day may be devoted solely to pre-surgery testing and preparations. The day of surgery is followed by a few days for recovery and monitoring by veterinary staff. The surgery begins with the dog being under complete anesthesia.

The bones that hold the dog’s femur bone in place are removed first. The top of the femur bone, which is the socket of the joint, is then removed. The ball of the joint is removed next, and a prosthetic replacement, usually one made of stainless steel, is put in place. The top of the femur bone is then replaced with a type of prosthesis that is most often made from plastic. A type of cement is used to hold the prosthetic ball and joint in place.

Once the dog is home, the dog’s activity must be controlled. The dog cannot be allowed to run, go for long walks, or jump for at least two months. After the second month of recovery, the dog may begin taking longer leash walks.

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