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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My sweet 5 year old, Ella was recently dx with severe hip dysplasia. She is pretty much bone on bone. The vet started her on Gabapentin a after dx and she is doing much better on it. We are in the process of scheduling a consultation with the vet department at UPenn. I would love opinions on this surgery and how your GSD did. What was involved with the rehab after surgery? I am torn as she is doing well on the pain management- but, the vet did say she had muscle atrophy from not being as active dealing with the pain. The surgery is estimated at $3,100 per hip an we need both done. So, weighing our options.
 

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An FHO doesn't have to cost that much, but if you have pet insurance footing the bill, I'd go with Penn too. If you don't have pet insurance and Penn's ortho says the FHO is the right solution, spend some time calling around and checking prices.

It's not a terribly difficult surgery, and many general-practice vets with an interest in orthopedics know how to do it. They'll cost far less. I think I paid $500 for the last one our rescue's vet did -- which had a fantastic result for the dog. I'm in a "cheaper" part of the country than Phillie but you have a lot more vets around. You may find lower prices in the Pittsburgh/WV area if you drive a little.

We've always done just one at a time. I've never known a dog that needed both done. The rehab is a few weeks of walks and making them put weight on it (they don't want to but need to), and some stretching/range of motion that are very specific and will be shown to you by the vet. It's necessary, but not anything requiring a vet-PT.

We've done FHOs on many dogs in our rescue, at a variety of ages. The pain stops. They can walk (and often romp and play)--we had a senior who was in a lot of pain who suddenly had spark and insisted on going for a morning swim and long walks. She was like a different dog. They're not going to be major athletes because the joint is now formed of scar tissue, but they'll be able to be happy companions.

If you're on the fence, ask about trying Adequan therapy for three to six months before you decide. Those injections lubricate the joint and ease the bone-on-bone pain (healing from the inside, temporarily), while stopping the rapid degenerative changes. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect for about half of dogs that's about as strong as an NSAID (creating pain relief). My personal dogs with HD have managed to avoid the need for heavy pain meds or surgery because of Adequan. My elderly dogs tend to need an injection every two weeks. We can tell when we're at the end of his two-week cycle because stairs get harder for him. My middle-aged dog with HD only gets one monthly--and he's very active--but I really try to listen to the dog to figure out what the right maintenance dose cycle is for them.


Muscle atrophy is pretty common in dogs with HD. It's one of the tell-tale signs of it in a general exam. As soon as my vet spots it, we get told to do as much walking as the dog wants to do, and we start eventually walking hills to try to build it back. That may require some pain management at first. If you do some googling about arthritis in people, you'll see that being active is the whole ball game -- the people who stay active suffer less and maintain their quality of life longer, with less pain. It needs to be no-impact, and gentle, but movement is critical. The Arthritis Foundation builds classes at YMCAs and community centers around this. There was even something on NPR this week about research on knee arthritis showing somewhat counter-intuitively that walking helped reduce pain -- but only if you do enough of it, and the right way:
https://www.npr.org/sections/health...sing-to-ease-pain-taking-brisk-walks-can-help
https://oaaction.unc.edu/resource-library/living-with-osteoarthritis/wwe/
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for your thorough reply. I have called several vets and no general type of vets do this around me. And we are willing to travel. $3,100 per hip was the best we have found @ UPenn. One quoted me between $7,000-$10,000. I couldn't believe it. We do not have pet insurance. I have also heard about those injections. I want to explore every avenue possible- but, also am weary with delaying surgery. Our vet does have aquatic therapy as well. I may look into that. I spent $500 just on xrays/sedation, pain meds and exam. So, I am going to say there isn't anyone around here that does this that cheap. I wish! We will build up her muscle with walks and get the assessment done and see what the surgeons take is on it and what options we have. Thanks so much!
 

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The surgery is estimated at $3,100 per hip an we need both done.
If a total hip replacement is done instead of an FHO, most dogs (about 80%) need only one hip done even if both hips are bad. With a total hip replacement, the dog compensates very well for the unoperated hip by using what is now a perfect hip joint.

If you are willing to travel a little, you should be able to find someone to do a total hip replacement on the worst hip for about the same price of two FHO's in your area. I think your best bet is the vet school at Ohio State in Columbus:

http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/companion/our-services/orthopedic-surgery/faq-total-hip-replacement

They have a well deserved reputation for excellent total hip replacements. It's only about a 5-hour drive from Penn State.

An FHO is better than euthanasia, but a total hip replacement is far superior to an FHO. With an FHO, it's like having the end of a blunt stick jabbed into the muscles every time the dog takes a step. It's better than bone-on-bone hip dysplasia pain, but why settle for this when the dog can have a pain-free hip?
 
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