Spring Green Animal Hospital

506 Rainbow Road
Spring Green, WI 53588



Hip Dysplasia Screening


We are currently recommending early screening for hip joint laxity in large dog breeds at 12-16 weeks of age because a new innovative surgery is available that has a great potential to limit or prevent arthritis secondary to this genetic condition.  The surgery is called a juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS) Please see the following page for more details.  The many benefits of this surgery far offset its cost when compared to the alternatives later in the pet's life when lameness and arthritis are present.

We suggest having your pet screened if the adult body weight is estimated to be greater than 50#, and especially if you have a breed of dog that has a high incidence of hip dysplasia (Lab, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, etc).  The screening consists of heavy sedation or general anesthesia followed by palpation of the hips for laxity.  If the palpation is positive for joint laxity, this suggests a potential for future problems and JPS surgery would be recommended immediately or as soon as convenient. If palpation is negative, a more accurate method to measure joint laxity objectively would be done called a PennHip x-ray study.

The PennHip x-ray study measures the hip joint laxity in a quantitative way, palpation is a subjective test not suitable for making breeding decisions, but very helpful in deciding whether to pursue the JPS surgery.

Penn HIP X-rays are also a very beneficial screening test if you are considering using your dog for breeding. If the Distraction Index or "hip tightness" results are above average, you will know that using your dog for breeding in the future will be minimizing the chances of passing on the genetics that lead to hip dysplasia in that breed.

If JPS surgery is needed, your pup will be required to be spayed or neutered at the same time.  This surgery MUST be done at 12-16 weeks of age to maximize the benefits as the dog grows.

 The Earlier The Better!


Hip Dysplasia and Large Breed Dogs


All owners of large breed puppies are justifiably worried over the risk that their new puppy will eventually develop hip dysplasia.   All large breeds, whether from a kennel, private owner or a pet store are at risk of this crippling disease.  It can be very painful, and by the time it is diagnosed and treated the dog has often suffered for weeks or even months.  Preventing this suffering has been everyone's goal for many years.


Treating hip dysplasia is expensive.  In mild cases, aspirin and other pain relieving drugs can be used, but must be given for the life of the dog and can sometimes cause serious problems, or at a minimum, be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.  Surgery, which is very expensive and a lot more debilitating to the patient, can treat more severe cases.  The most common surgical options are:


  1. TP (triple pelvic osteotomy) -This $1200-$1900 per hip surgery cuts and then re-attaches 3 bones in the pelvis to change the angle of the hip socket.  Only done early in life (6-10 months of age), there is a loss of range of motion.
  2. FHO (femoral head ostectomy) -This $400-$600 per hip surgery removes the femoral head.  This surgery results in a loss of the normal hip anatomy, and the larger the dog, the less successful the surgery is.
  3. THR (total hip replacement) -This $3,500 per hip surgery replaces the abnormal hip joint with a prosthesis.  It is only done by specialists such as at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary School.


Different surgeons recommend different procedures based on their skill level, instrumentation, age of the pet, severity of the disease, and finances available.  The entire process can be very complex, costly and emotionally draining.  Most of all, this very painful disease is now largely preventable!


Hip Screening


Testing is now available that can predict which puppies are at greater risk of developing hip dysplasia.  Furthermore, a procedure is now available that should allow the hip bones of a puppy to develop more normally.  Screening of large breed puppies (over 50# adult weight) MUST be done as close to 13 weeks of age as possible.  The screening consists of sedation or general anesthesia and palpation of the hips.  If palpation is "positive", no other testing is needed and JPS surgery would be recommended.  If negative, a "PennHip" x-ray may be done to provide further verification. 


Those puppies that test positive require a procedure (Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis) that fuses a portion of the growth plate in the pelvis.  This fusing causes the angle of the hip to change as the puppy grows, ultimately providing the puppy a much better hip joint.  Benefits of this surgery, compared to those listed above, are remarkable:


There are 3 possible screening and/or surgery scenarios: (Please call for current pricing)

  1. Palpation for laxity is Negative, PennHIP x-rays are performed, they clearly show excellent hips, and no further evaluation or surgery is needed.
  2. Palpation for laxity is Positive, x-rays are not needed, and we proceed directly to surgery.
  3. Palpation for laxity is Negative, PennHIP x-rays are performed, the Laxity measurement appears questionable, the films need to be sent for priority evaluation to provide objective laxity numbers for a decision to be made on whether to proceed with surgery or not.

         a. If the laxity measurement is less than a certain number, meaning there is a low risk of developing hip dysplasia, nothing further is done.

         b. If the laxity measurement is greater than a certain number, meaning there is a higher risk to develop hip dysplasia, we then have the puppy come back for the surgery as quickly as possible (usually 3-4 days).