Surgery for Dog Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition of the hip joint commonly seen in large breed dogs. The hips are considered a ball-and-socket joint, and the term “dysplasia” refers to abnormal growth.

Hip dysplasia in dogs results in a poor fit between the ball and socket, which affects their mobility. This can lead to pain, arthritis, and a weakening of the joint upon movement. 

There are varying degrees of hip dysplasia, and some dogs may not show signs of the condition until later in life. Hip dysplasia in dogs can be managed with medical and surgical options, and these may be combined for the best outcome. 

Here’s what you need to know about surgery for dog hip dysplasia.

Types of Surgery for Dog Hip Dysplasia

If surgery is recommended, the procedure selected will depend on many factors. These may include your dog’s age, weight, and size, as well as the degree of hip dysplasia present. 

Your veterinarian can let you know which may be best for your dog. In many cases, consultation with a board-certified veterinary surgeon may be needed, as many of the types of surgery for dog hip dysplasia are not performed in routine general practice.

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis

Juvenile pubic symphysiodesis is performed when a dog is younger than 5 months of age. This procedure involves closing the pubic symphysis (a connection between the two sides of the pelvis), which causes the bones to rotate and provide a better fit of the ball-and-socket joint.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy

Triple pelvic osteotomy is performed on dogs younger than 8-10 months of age. This surgery involves repositioning the bones using a saw and plates to provide a better ball-and-socket fit.

Femoral Head Osteotomy

A femoral head osteotomy or ostectomy can be performed in dogs at any age, and preferably those weighing less than 65 pounds. This procedure involves removing a portion of the bone that makes up the ball part of the joint to reduce pain.  

Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement is a surgical procedure to be considered when other procedures are not appropriate because of a dog’s age and clinical or individual factors. This surgery involves the replacement of both the ball and socket parts of the joint and is similar to the surgery performed in humans.

Dog Hip Dysplasia Surgery Recovery

If you see redness, pain, inflammation, or discharge at the surgical site during the recovery period, please see a vet as soon as possible. 

If your dog goes from using their limbs to limping or not bearing weight on them, then get a recheck with your vet right away. 

Recovery from hip surgery requires dedication on your part. You will likely be asked to do many things for your dog. 

Initially, this support will include: 

  • Activity restriction to ensure no running, jumping, or rough play 

  • Administration of medications to control pain and inflammation 

  • Monitoring the surgical site for signs of infection, such as pain, redness, or swelling 

  • Performing rehabilitation exercises 

  • Keeping an E-collar on your dog at all times to prevent licking or grooming of their incision  

A series of recheck exams will likely be needed, as your dog’s stitches will eventually need to come out.  Your vet may refer you to a rehabilitation veterinarian or clinic as well. 

Ask your vet what the expected timeline is for your dog’s recovery and full use of their limbs after surgery. While this timeline can vary on an individual basis, you’ll know what is realistic for your dog. 

Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC


Christina Fernandez, DVM, DACVECC


Dr. Christina Fernandez obtained her DVM degree from St. George's University in 2007 and membership with the Royal College of Veterinary...

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