Good Treatments depend on Age & Severity

Question:
My husband and I are the owners of a beloved one year old Airedale terrier. Toby has been x-rayed and diagnosed by our local veterinarian and by Dr. Michael Wey as having hip dysplasia.  When Dr. Wey checked him out some months ago he said he didn’t recommend surgery just then. However, in the ensuing time he’s been spending more and more time getting around on three legs. Toby has hip dysplasia in both hips and we wonder if we should consider stem cells for our little guy.

Dr. Nichol:
Toby’s age and the status of his degenerating hip joints are both important factors in choosing the right treatment.
For a broad perspective I consulted with surgery specialist Dr. Peter Schwarz of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center. He pointed out that while hip dysplasia can affect one joint more it usually causes nearly equal damage on both sides. Additional problems may have developed in Toby’s more painful leg. Big dogs are prone to injuries of a knee ligament (ACL) as well as joint defects in the ankle.

Hip dysplasia comes in all shades of grey, so minor in some dogs that they never take a lame step, so severe in others that they can’t stand. Multiple genes are responsible but environmental factors like high impact exercise in growing puppies can advance permanent bony changes. Hip dysplasia can be big trouble but we are fortunate to have some excellent modern treatments.

Stems cells, taken from a dog’s own fat reserves, are a wonderful addition to our toolbox because they have the ability to regenerate joint tissues and, in many cases, dramatically reduce pain.  They are best reserved for progressive joint disease in a pet’s later years; one stem cell injection may buy time for Toby but he’s still a youngster and would eventually need corrective surgery anyway.

Dr. Wey in Santa Fe is among the best at what he does. Ask him to reevaluate Toby. If all of the kid’s other joints are sound his long term quality of life may be best served with artificial hip joints. Toby will need post-operative physical therapy to reach full recovery but he’s important to you.  Go for the gold.