It's been a while since I said I would post about Riley's hip displaysia but it turns out my brain needed more time to start coming to terms with what this means for us. We also snuck away for a lovely week of camping in an area where there is minimal internet access.
Riley's xrays show his left hip is dysplasic and has significant degenerative changes (aka arthritis). His right hip is in fairly good shape. His knees are pretty strong but he has some degenerative changes in his hocks (bone spurs and arthritis) which are likely due to compensating for the hip and not considered a significant factor at this point. When I received this news I was quite overwhelmed. I have known for a long time that his structure is not very good but had wrongly assumed that any recurring problems he had were from his back not his hips. If he was ten years old and I received this news then I would be willing to manage this with supplements, medications and therapies but he just turned six years old. I have never expected him to be a super long-lived lab due to his size but I did expect him to have a good 3-4 more active years. He is a very healthy and active dog but I do worry about the long term effects of using NSAIDs.
Our options are to restrict his activities and manage the pain or to do surgery. Neither option is clearly defined at this stage. He is currently on a NSAID and we have done a four week course of cartophen injections. I have been supplementing him with good quality glucosamine products for years and using homeopathic remedies like Arnica or Traumeel when he had soreness in the past. We usually walk 1-1.5 hours every day with a lot of that off leash hiking on local trails so he is actually in very good shape other than this problem. He has been on leash more the past few months in an effort to treat his soreness and prior to our holiday we were starting to get back to more regular activity levels with some modifications.
While on holidays I experimented with letting him have more off leash freedoms and unfortunately he paid the price. We didn't do any major hiking but still a longer (1.5 hour) walk was just to much for him and he was sore later. Darn dog has absolutely no filter on how to retrict himself and just go, go, goes while he is in the "moment". He does recover with a few days rest and does well if kept mostly on leash. It sucks for him because he loves to run and explore but for now I will closely monitor his activity and reactions.
The other option is surgery. There are two types of hip surgery. One involves cutting off the head of the hip bone so it no longer rubs against the joint causing pain. The muscles can stabalize the joint and recovery is fairly easy. Unfortunately that surgery is mainly successful for dogs under 50-60 pounds. The option I am looking at is a total hip replacement just like they do in humans. It will cost a small fortune (around 5 or 6 thousand) and involves a pretty major three month recovery. The first month has the largest risk of dislocation so is basically no activity other than potty breaks and then gradually over months two and three we build up from very short walks to regular activity. It appears there is a very good (90+%) success rate for the surgery but of course there are always risks and if things go wrong then he will be really screwed. Despite that I am still leaning towards that option. His soreness levels last week have convinced me that it will not be easy to treat this without surgery. It is very expensive but I also know from experience with Lucy that supplements, meds and therapies add up a lot and there is a lot of time and travel involved for chiro visits, swim visits etc.
I have asked my vet for a referral to the surgeon so we can assess if Riley is a good candidate for the surgery. If it turns out that he isn't then I will look further at regular therapy like swimming, accupuncture etc as well as some other alternative therapies. I have a friend who had good success with gold bead accupuncture implants for her dog and have also heard good things about stem cell therapies. I don't know much about either option currently but I will research.
Lots of information for me to digest and assess over the coming months. If we proceed with surgery then I am hoping to do it early september which allows for our summer holiday.
Here are a few pics of last weeks lovely camping trip. It was good to get away and just enjoy time with hubby and the dogs.