Hip problems are really common in dogs, ranging from hip dysplasia or congenital problems perhaps detected early on, to later life appearances due to trauma, falls, too much ball chasing, altercations with cars etc.
What to do about this?
It’s usually down to conservative management or surgery.
Weight control, walking to build up strong muscles (gluts/bottoms!), swimming, nutrition, manual treatment such as stretches, joint mobilisation, acupuncture.
Many different types of surgery depending on what is exactly wrong with the hip, your dog’s age, lifestyle, finances – be guided by a few veterinary opinions.
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) is one kind of surgery, an alternative to a hip replacement. Whichever you decide you will need some help with post op rehabilitation. The rehab approach is very different depending on the type of surgery.
E.g. a few points on FHO rehab
After an FHo procedure the hip area will tend to tighten with the healing process. It is important to keep the hip area as flexible as possible, to avoid unnecessary scar tissue and contractures.
It is important to start this early. If you delay, the tissues become tight and possibly painful to stretch the longer you avoid stretching.
Your dog will also be initially reluctant to weight-bear through the leg. Dogs would rather use the 3 good legs than bother with a problematic limb. So we have to help with stretching and weight bearing exercises.
Weight bearing exercise
After an FHO procedure your dog will not naturally fully weight bear through her leg. You may think she is but dogs always cheat after surgery, and she will be much lighter on her new leg. The easiest exercise to start is to get her standing square, paws directly under her hips, gently nudge her body toward the operated side, as if trying to knock her off balance, you may need to give her treats at the same time to keep her focused.
Another tip, prepare or change the home set up for your dog’s new condition or homecoming after surgery. It will make your life much easier! Clients often say they wish they’d had a couple of weeks to prepare before their dog’s homecoming. Things like having a quiet closed off safe area where dog is contained safely, can see the family without being overstimulated; non slip floors, perhaps slings, supports, wheelchair if necessary etc, being prepared for the post op rehab routine.