What Should I Do If My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia But I Can't Afford Surgery?

Surgery to correct hip dysplasia can be a big investment of money in your pet’s health. Depending on how old your pet is surgery to correct the problem can range anywhere from $1000 to $5000 per joint. So understandably, some people can’t afford treatment, so I get a lot of questions about how to help pets who have hip dysplasia but the pet parent cannot afford surgery. So, there are things you can do.

One of the most important things that you can do is keep your pet thin. Studies show that pets that are lean, at an appropriate body weight, have much fewer problems with arthritis, with pain from arthritis, and they have a lower need for being on anti-inflammatory medication for pain, so you want to make sure that your dog is at an appropriate weight for his or her frame. How do you know? Well the easiest way I have found to show clients, to show you how your pet is at an appropriate weight, is the hand test, so you take your hand and you feel, you take your hands and you feel your dog’s ribs right behind their front legs, you should feel them. They should feel like the back of your hand, like a washboard. If they feel like the palm, the pet is too fat, if they feel like the knuckles, your pet is too thin. You want it to feel like the back of your hand, so if you’re noticing it’s feeling like your knuckles or your palm, talk with your veterinarian about getting your pet at an appropriate weight.

The next important thing is low impact exercise, such as swimming, walking on dirt or trails or grass, walking underwater on a treadmill, all kinds of low-impact exercises keep those joints moving around and, as my physical therapist always says, “Sarah, Dr. Wooten, motion is lotion!” So you want to get out there and you want to get walking it’s good for your pet and it’s good for you.

Another important thing is to make sure that pain is controlled with either prescription pain medication or alternative supplements that are out there, such as glucosamine chondroitin, fish oil, there’s been a lot of excitement about CBD oil as being an alternative way to help, it’s a supplement that can help promote joint health, lots of different things available, so talk with your veterinarian about what is right for your dog. And then lastly, if you want to invest in your pet’s comfort and quality of life, then make sure that they have an excellent mattress to sleep on, orthopedic, supportive, sleeping mattress, just as important for your dog’s aching joints as it is for you. I know I sleep on a memory foam mattress, it makes a world of difference to me about how I wake up in the morning and how I move about my day. The same thing goes for your dog so make sure to invest in a supportive sleeping surface for your pet.

Dr. Sarah Wooten

A lifelong dog lover, Dr. Wooten is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with 16 years experience in small animal general practice.

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