Veterinary Surgery FAQs


What is a Total Hip Replacement?

THR is a surgical procedure in which a damaged hip joint is replaced with artificial components. The hip is a ball and socket joint containing two bony components, the rounded head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabular socket (part of the pelvis). During a THR, the femoral head is removed and replaced with a cobalt chromium stem and ball, and the acetabular socket is reshaped and fitted with a plastic cup. Bone cement may or may not be used to fix the implants in place, depending on the implant type selected for your pet by your surgeon.

Why does my dog need a THR?

THR is the gold standard for treatment of hip joint malformation and/or joint instability. The most common reason for considering THR is the presence of moderate to severe degenerative joint disease due to hip dysplasia or arthritis. In addition, THR may be the best option for certain cases of hip luxation (dislocation) or hip fracture.

During your consultation, the surgeon will discuss any other viable options for treatment of your dog’s hip condition, and explain the risks, benefits, and long-term projected prognosis for each one in comparison to the THR.

Is my dog a good candidate for THR?

Our surgeons will carefully assess whether your dog is a good candidate for THR based on a number of factors, including the severity of clinical signs, history, physical exam, size of the dog, radiographs, and likeliness of a favorable outcome. Some general guidelines are:

  • Size: Weight between 40 and 120 pounds
  • Age: Over 10 months of age
  • Severity of symptoms: Presence of pain that cannot be adequately controlled via medical therapy
  • General health: No acute or chronic infections of skin, bladder, or other organ system
  • Orthopedic status: No other significant joint or bone disease
  • Neurologic status: No significant neurologic disease
  • Behavioral status: Able to be adequately confined during recovery period

What are the common signs of degenerative hip disease?

  • Gait abnormalities such as bunny-hopping
  • Pain upon flexion or extension of hip joints
  • Resistance to exercise or play
  • Difficulty in lying down or getting up
  • Atrophy of one or both hind limbs
  • Dislocation of hip joint

Symptoms generally worsen with age, as degenerative changes increase. Some younger dogs may be diagnosed with hip dysplasia via screening Xrays before showing clinical signs.

What is the prognosis for my dog?

In the majority of cases, dogs return to near-normal function in the replaced hip and are able to accommodate for the remaining decreased function in the other hip. Most dogs return to a comfortable and satisfactory life after having this surgery on just one side.

If for some reason your dog needs to have a THR on the other side, a minimum of 4 months is required between the surgeries to ensure that the first hip can adequately bear full body weight while the second hip is healing.