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FHO Surgery in Dogs

There are a variety of hip problems in dogs that could benefit from FHO surgery. In this post, our Turlock vets discuss hip issues in dogs, and how FHO surgery can treat them.

Hip Issues in Dogs

Hip problems in dogs can occur due to genetics, old age, injury, or a combination of both factors.

  • Canine hip dysplasia is typically a genetic disorder. Hip dysplasia causes your dog's hip joints to develop abnormally.
  • Legg-Perthes disease is a condition that can affect your dog's hips. This condition occurs when the top of the femur bone does not receive enough blood flow, which can lead to the degeneration of the femur head. As a result, your dog may experience arthritis and/or hip damage.
Orthopedic surgery may be recommended to correct mobility issues and dog pain caused by common conditions.

Canine Hip Joints

Your furry friend's hip joints work like a ball and socket mechanism in which the ball is located at the head of the thigh bone (femur) and rests inside the hip bone's acetabulum (the socket part of the hip joint).

When the hip functions normally, the ball and socket work together to allow easy and pain-free movement.

However, rubbing and grinding between the two parts can cause pain and mobility issues when injury or disease disrupts your pup's normal hip function.

Poorly functioning or damaged hip joints can also cause inflammation, reducing your dog's mobility and quality of life.

If you have a small dog, orthopedic surgery called FHO (femoral head ostectomy) may be an option to ease your dog's pain and restore its normal pain-free mobility.

Common Hip Problems in Dogs That May Require FHO Surgery

Numerous hip conditions in dogs can benefit from FHO surgery, including:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Severe arthritis
  • Joint dislocation (luxation)
  • Hip fractures
  • Legg-Perthes disease
  • Weak muscles in hind legs

It is important to note that not all dogs are eligible for FHO surgery. To be considered for this procedure, your dog should weigh less than 50 pounds. A smaller pet's weight is advantageous in this case, as the false joint that forms after surgery can more easily support a smaller body compared to a larger or overweight dog.

Signs & Symptoms of Hip Pain in Dogs

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

FHO Surgery for Dogs

During the FHO surgery, the surgeon will remove the femoral head, which is the top part of the thigh bone. This will leave the socket portion of the hip empty. In the beginning, your dog's leg muscles will hold the femur in place while scar tissue develops between the femur and the acetabulum, which is the socket. Gradually, over time, a "false joint" will begin to form, and the scar tissue will act as a cushion between the femur and the acetabulum.

Cost of FHO Surgery for Dogs

FHO surgery is a relatively inexpensive procedure that can often help restore pain-free mobility to smaller dogs. The cost of your dog's surgery will depend upon several factors, so you will need to consult your veterinarian for an accurate estimate.

Dogs Recovering From FHO Surgery

It is important to remember that each dog is unique. After a surgical procedure, your dog may require hospitalization for a few hours or several days to receive proper post-operative care. The duration of your dog's stay will be determined based on their overall health and various other factors. Typically, recovery from FHO surgery occurs in two stages.

Phase 1

In the first few days after the surgery, you and your veterinarian will focus on managing pain using prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications will aid in reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling at the surgical site.

Your dog must refrain from any rigorous physical activity for at least 30 days after the surgery, and it will typically take around six weeks for most dogs to recover. During this period, your dog should not run or jump, but you can take them for short walks while keeping them on a leash.

If your dog is not experiencing too much discomfort, your vet may suggest a passive range of motion exercises that can help stimulate movement in the hip joint and encourage it to move through its natural range of motion once again.

Phase 2

Around one week after the surgery, the second phase of recovery begins. During this phase, your pet will gradually increase physical activity to rebuild muscle mass and strengthen the hip joint.

This helps prevent the scar tissue from becoming too stiff, and improves long-term mobility. You can include appropriate exercises such as walking upstairs independently or walking on hind legs while holding their front legs in the air.

After a month, if your dog has recovered well, you can resume regular physical activity but avoid high-impact activities at this stage. You can use a mobility aid or dog lift harness throughout Phase 2 of the healing process.

Pets who were active before surgery tend to recover quicker due to the increased strength in the muscle mass around the hip joint.

Post-Op Care for Your Dog

The care requirements for your dog will depend on their individual circumstances and needs. If your pup does not fully recover within the typical six-week recovery period, it may be necessary to seek formal physical rehabilitation therapy. If your dog appears to be in pain or is not recovering as expected after FHO surgery, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

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.

Are you worried your dog is suffering from hip problems? Contact our Turlock vets to see if your pup could benefit from FHO surgery.

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Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Turlock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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