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FHO Surgery in Dogs

Just like people, dogs can experience injuries caused by trauma or repeated use. In some cases, your dog may require veterinary care to treat the issue. Here, our Gallup vets talk about hip problems in dogs and how FHO surgery may be able to help.

How do hip injuries in dogs happen?

A hip functions much like a ball and socket. The ball sits on the end of the thigh bone, or femur, and rests inside your dog's hip bone's acetabulum (the socket).

With normal hip function, the ball and socket work together allowing easy and pain-free movement. When injury or disease breaks down or disrupts your dog's normal hip function, pain and other mobility issues can result due to rubbing and grinding between the two parts. Inflammation caused by a poorly functioning or damaged hip joint can also reduce your furry friend's mobility and quality of life.

Hip problems in dogs can be caused by old age, injury, and genetic predisposition.

  • Hip fractures that can't be repaired surgically either because of the health of the patient or the means of their owner.
  • Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia is commonly treated with FHO surgery. 
  • Legg-Perthes disease is another condition that can affect your dog's hips. This condition is characterized by a lack of blood flow to the top of the femur, leading to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur, resulting in arthritis and/or hip damage.

These are some of the most common causes of hip pain in dogs. To correct the issue, orthopedic surgery may be recommended.

What are the signs that your dog may have hip pain?

You may notice one of the following signs if your dog is beginning to experience hip pain:

  • Muscle loss around their back limbs
  • Increased stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Limping when walking

So what is an FHO surgery for a dog and what is it used for?

FHO (femoral head ostectomy) for dogs is a hip surgery used to repair issues like hip dysplasia. The muscle mass around active dogs' joints can help to speed their recovery. However, any pet in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate its hip pain.

During your dog's FHO surgery, your vet will remove the femoral head, leaving the socket of your dog's hip empty. Your dog's leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place and scar tissue will develop between the acetabulum and femur. Over some time, a 'false joint' will form and the scar tissue will form a cushion between their bones.

What does FHO surgery for dogs cost?

FHO surgery is generally considered fairly inexpensive, especially when you consider the benefits for your dog. If FHO surgery is recommended for dogs, the cost will depend upon several factors so you will need to consult your veterinarian for an estimate.

FHO Surgery for Dogs: Recovery

Each pet is different. After FHO surgery, your dog may stay in the hospital for monitored recovery from a few hours to a few days. There are a few factors that can contribute to the length of their hospital stay. Speak with your vet to learn more about what to expect.

Phase 1

In the days immediately following surgery, you and your vet will focus on controlling pain with medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

You may notice that your dog won't use their leg right after FHO surgery, this is nothing to be concerned about. It will take time to heal and they will begin to use it more frequently as this happens.

Your dog will need to have their activity restricted by confining them to a small room or crate where they aren't able to jump or run.

If your dog is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend exercises that have a passive range of motion to encourage their hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.

Phase 2

Once a week has passed, you will want to begin gradually increasing the amount of physical activity and exercises for your dog.

This prevents the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will improve your dog's long-term mobility. Your vet will instruct you on appropriate exercises for your dog.

After following all post-surgical and recovery instructions, many dogs are pretty much back to normal activities about 6 weeks after surgery. If your pet hasn't fully recovered by this time, it may require physical therapy or rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery.

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.

If you are concerned that your dog is experiencing pain while walking, please contact our Gallup vets today to book an examination for your pet.

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Cedar Animal Medical Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gallup companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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