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Normal Dog Hip
Figure 1. Normal Dog X-Ray

There are numerous hip problems in dogs that would require surgery in this case, FHO surgery, also known as dog Femoral Head Ostectomy or Femoral Head Osteotomy. One of the most common reasons is Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a disease that affects the hip joints and can be a very painful and crippling disease causing weakness in the hind end of the dog. It occurs from abnormal development of the hip joint wherein the head of the femur does not fit properly into the socket. This simple ball and socket joint should fit securely together giving the dog the ability to comfortably move their legs back and forth through full range of motion without any pain.

Hip Dysplasia in Dog
Figure 2. Hip Dysplasia in Dog

Hip dysplasia can be minor or it can be extremely severe resulting in terrible arthritis. It is usually more common in large and giant breed dogs but small dogs can also be affected. There are definitely certain breeds that a more predisposed to this disease then others. Also other issues such as obesity, trauma and rapid growth or over nutrition at a young age, have been linked to this abnormal hip development.

Another disease that often requires FHO surgery is Legg Perthes Disease in dogs. This is a disease of the hip joint that causes an abnormal deformity of the head of the femur or ball of the hip joint.

Legg Perthes Disease
Figure 3. Legg Perthes Disease

This occurs when the blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted thus leading to the destruction of the bone in the hip joint causing an irregular joint surface. Even the slightest amount of movement in the rear leg will cause the dog significant pain. The pain causes the dog to not use the leg thus resulting in muscle atrophy. It can affect one or both hind legs. Legg Perthes Disease in dogs can be the result of an injury or trauma. There are no known specific causes of the disease but it is believed to have a genetic link and not just due to trauma.

Though less common, there are still other hip problems in dogs that may require FHO surgery such as canine hip dislocation. This injury is usually a direct result of trauma such as being hit by a car, falling from a high place or any other acute traumatic injury during rough play. On occasion, canine hip dislocation can be associated with severe hip dysplasia. Usually the first course of treatment involves sedation and then replacing the head of the femur (ball) in to the acetabulum (socket). These dogs are then placed into a sling apparatus called an Ehmer Sling in order to immobilize the leg for a period of time. If the hip cannot be returned to the socket and kept in place, FHO surgery is an option.

Overall hip problems in dogs make up a large percentage of all orthopedic issues seen by veterinarians. It is important to discuss any possible signs or symptoms with your veterinarian so that they can take proper x-rays of your dog's hips. It may be that both you and your veterinarian will decide that FHO Surgery is the right option for your dog.