Since hip dysplasia cannot be cured, treatment focuses on reducing pain and improving your pet’s mobility. Options are generally divided into non-invasive lifestyle changes, medication, and surgical treatments. Veterinarians usually recommend starting with lifestyle changes and pain medication and only suggest surgery in cases where pets do not respond to these conservative treatments.
Small Changes That Make a Big Difference
For obese or overweight cats and dogs with hip dysplasia, the first and best thing you can do is put them on a reduced-calorie diet and have them maintain a healthy weight. Any extra pounds will put unnecessary stress on injured joints and increase the rate of degeneration. Starting a regular exercise routine that is approved by your veterinarian can help by increasing muscle strength and taking some of the strain off those joints. Climbing and jumping may not be appropriate for these pets, but walking and moderate running may be beneficial. Swimming, if it is an option, can also be an excellent exercise for dogs with joint pain.
Other ways you may be able to offer your pet some relief include:
- massage therapy
- acupuncture or acupressure
- keeping your pet out of damp or cold weather
- providing a firm orthopedic bed for your pet
Veterinarians may recommend giving your pet asprin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. You should talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any non-prescription NSAID since these should not be used if your pet is on certain other medications or has some pre-existing conditions, If your pet is suffering from severe hip dysplasia and advanced arthritis, your practitioner may prescribe a painkiller such as Rimadyl for dogs.
Some veterinarians also recommend glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to help strengthen your pet’s connective tissues. Examples of compounds include Joints Feeling Healthy for dogs and Arthogen for cats.
Surgery is usually reserved as an option for large, older dogs and cats that don’t respond to other treatments. The most common surgical procedure used to reduce the pain associated with hip dysplasia is removing the head of the femoral (thigh bone), which is the ball part of the hip’s ball-and-socket joint. The muscles around the bones should be able to keep the remaining bone structure together so there will be little loss of functionality. The affected limb may be slightly shorter, but your dog or cat should still have normal range of motion and will be able to run, jump, and move freely without pain.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.