Hip Dysplasia Treatments
While there is no complete cure, there are many options for hip dysplasia treatments. The aim of treatment is to enhance quality of life. Crucially, this is a congenital condition and so will change during the life of an animal, so any treatment is subject to regular review or re-assessment if the symtoms appear to get worse or anything significantly changes.
If the problem is relatively mild, then sometimes all that is needed to bring the symptoms under control are suitable medications to help the body deal better with inflammation, pain and joint wear. In many cases this is all that is needed for a long time.
If the problem cannot be controlled with medications, then often surgery is considered. There are traditionally two types of surgery - those which reshape the joint to reduce pain or help movement, and hip replacement for animals which completely replaces the damaged hip with an artificial joint, similar to human hip replacements.
Non surgical intervention - is typically a combination of an anti-inflammatory painkiller, such as carprofen (often sold as Rimadyl and used to treat arthritis), and a glucosamine based nutritional supplement to give the body additional raw materials used in joint repair.
Glucosamine can take 3-4 weeks to start showing its effects, since it can take up to 6 weeks to reach full therapeutic effect in the body, so the trial period for medication is usually around 3-5 weeks minimum before assuming it isn't working. It's important to remember that glucosamine is not a medication, it's a raw material, so the body still takes considerable time to build more cartilage once it has access to this raw material.
It is also common, if necessary, to try multiple anti-inflammatories over a further 4-6 week period. This is since an animal will often respond to one type, but will fail to respond to another. If one anti-inflammatory does not work, a vet will often try one or two other brands for 2-3 weeks each, also in conjunction with ongoing glucosamine, before necessarily concluding that the condition does not seem responsive to medication. Typical alternatives include tepoxalin (Zubrin) or other NSAIDs suitable for animals.
Carprofen, and other anti-inflammatories in general, whilst very safe for most animals, can sometimes cause problems for some animals, and in a few rare cases, sudden death through liver toxicity.
This is most commonly discussed with carprofen but may be equally relevant with other anti-inflammatories too. As a result it is often recommended to have monthly (or at least, twice-annually) blood tests performed, to confirm that the animal is not reacting badly to the medications, if these are being used. Such side effects are rare but worth being aware of, especially if long term use is anticipated. This regime can usually be maintained long term, for as long as it is effective in keeping the symptoms of dysplasia at bay.
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