Femoral Head Ostectomy and Hip Dysplasia in Sentry

Baymule

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Hip Dysplasia. Words and diagnosis that strike fear and grief in any dog owner. That's the words we got February 12, 2020. Our vet said he has never seen hips so bad in a dog so young and called him a train wreck.

We sure started out in a different place when we got Sentry. So full of happiness and hopes for the future.


Sentry started limping a couple of weeks ago and his hind leg was swollen. I figured that the other dogs and he had been playing too rough and penned him up to prevent him from re-injuring his leg. After all, scarcely a couple of weeks earlier, 200+ pounds of playing dogs slammed into the back of my knee and I went down screaming in pain. I am still slightly limping from that. The swelling went down, but we had another problem, it looked like Sentry's hip was out of joint. So we made an appointment and took him to the vet.

X-ray and a diagnosis hit us like a ton of bricks. I've had dogs all my life and have never had anything even remotely like this happen. The ball and socket joints had no socket. They were flat and already starting arthritis. The vet said there is a surgical procedure called Femoral Head Ostectomy, or FHO. He explained that there is a 97% success rate and that his own Golden Retriever had had the same surgery and was now 14 years old and has had a good life. The surgery involves cutting off the ball joint, over time, as it heals, scar tissue forms and acts as a cushion between the bones. The ligaments, muscles and sinews hold the leg in place. With Sentry's young age, 9 months, he stood a greater chance of a full recovery. We have taken a lot higher risks for a lot stupider reasons, so we scheduled surgery for the next day.

We got home and discussed euthanasia, that made us cry, we had to give him a chance. If he recovers like the vet thinks he will, we will have to do the other hip. If he makes it through all that and turns out to be a yard ornament, that is fine with us.

Some of you may think we are total idiots. Maybe we are. I'm pretty sure we are. Oh well. He has a chance at a pain free life. If he can't be a guardian, so be it, he can be a pet. Feel free to voice your opinion, whether you agree or not. This forum is for open discussion, we all learn from it, both the good and the bad. We learn from success and abject failures. I am posting this so that everyone might benefit from my success or failure. If you think I am stupid, go for it.

We picked him up Thursday. They brought him to us with a sling around his middle, to help him walk and take the pressure off his hip. When we got home, I cut a shopping bag down the sides and I used that for a sling. We put him in a large dog crate in the living room, he must stay confined for quite awhile. I take him out on a leash for potty breaks and I can increase his walks a little at a time. I have a 2 page post op instructions, with 4 phases, up through and beyond 60 days after surgery. He is on pain meds and antibiotics.

This is going to be a very intensive recovery, much the same as BJ's knee replacement surgery. Only this is a dog, a dog that doesn't understand that he should not have ever been born. He doesn't understand why he is and was in pain. He doesn't understand that he was doomed from birth and he doesn't understand that he has to suffer some more pain and misery in order to have a chance at a better life. He just looks at me with adoring eyes.

I will try to find a link for FHO post op instructions, if I can't , I will type in the whole thing. I want this, however it turns out, to be a learning experience for not just me, but for my many friends here and for people who might be faced with the same thing.

And THIS is why smarter people than myself caution to ALWAYS buy a puppy from an OFA certified breeder. OFA is Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

By the time we go through all this surgery, rehab, pain and misery with Sentry, we will able to have purchased the finest, registered, puppy from OFA certified parents, in the whole damned country. We might end up with a pet. We may end up with a failure and an euthanized puppy. But that is a risk we are willing to take.

I have pictures on my phone and will have to switch to it. Sentry needs to take a walk, I'll be back.
 

Baymule

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Wow, we are blown away by the support here. @Mike CHS BJ asked me to read your post again. He smiled. It meant a lot to him, and me too!

@Mini Horses Thank you for the optimism. You have been there for me when I was falling apart over Joe and gave me great encouragement. You are my rock! For the rest of you, Joe is my blue eyed purest white Quarter Horse, my heart horse, the love of my life, he will be 31 in March and he has cushings disease. I was devastated and reached out to Mini Horses and she really helped me deal with it. At that time, he was paddling on all 4 feet, because of the pain. No foot, no horse. It was deadly serious. He did get better, his eyes are bright, his ears perk up and he is still interested in life. We take it day by day.

@LMK17 Thank you for posting this!! I read all the comments to BJ and we both got excited that your dog is doing so well. WHOOP!!! You have affirmed that we are doing the right thing.

@Duckfarmerpa1 thank you, I am learning that this is done fairly regularly. We had never heard of it and struggled with our decision.

Some of you have referenced the cost. Well, I have to tell y'all……I read up on this procedure on the internet, cost from $2,000 to $5000. We are in a small town, small town vet, people here are not wealthy. We were expecting a bill for $1,000. We were quoted $800, but when the dust settled, the bill totaled $596.14 BJ had asked him to go easy on us if he could and he did. We have been going to him since he bought the practice and the old vet retired. He has treated our dogs, horses, he was the one who diagnosed my ewe with ruptured pre pubic tendon and put her down while I bawled my broken heart out. We love this guy and are so glad to have him as our animal caretaker. He has always treated our animals with love and respect and treated us like family.

BYH rocks! I love y'all!!
 

Ridgetop

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Can't say it enough - Sentry is sooo lucky to have you and BJ! Your vet is terrific to keep the cost so low for you too. Just to stitch the 6" tear on Angel before we left cost us $1600.00!

I really appreciate Bay doing this posting and telling the story of Sentry's diagnosis, surgery and recovery. Hip dysplasia is hereditary. With such a severe problem, it is probable that one or both parents are carriers. Watching Sentry's progress will be very instructive for all of us. Anatolians have a high pain tolerance so hopefully, Sentry will recover pain free. Just removing the arthritic ball joint that was grinding on the deformed socket will reduce most of the pain. Even if his rear is slightly unsteady, the lack of pain will encourage him to move around which will strengthen the ligaments and muscles.

I had a similar surgery done to the base of my right thumb where arthritis was so painful I could not move my thumb to hold the keys to the car! Unfortunately I don't build up any scar tissue so the cushiony base to cover the end of the thumb bone never developed as the surgeon assured me it would. On the other hand, I don't have pain and have the use of my thumb and hand so bruising at the end of the bone where it protrudes is a minimal problem!

I am attaching Bubba's x-ray which was taken when he was 3 years old. OFA will only certify hips and elbows from x-rays taken after a dog is 24 months old or older. There is too much change between puppyhood and maturity for a permanent classification before 2 years of age. Hips may look good as pups but show problems at maturity. This is why this problem did not show up until Sentry reached a certain size and weight at which point his deformed hip joints could no longer support him.

Buddy-Bubba-WS55171701_Robbins_45715-20190715170920741-original (1).jpeg Buddy-Bubba-WS55171701_Robbins_45715-20190715171752791-original.jpeg Bubba received a "Very Good" classification from OFA. You can see how the ball fits snugly into the socket. We also did Bubba's elbows at the same time, and I am attaching that x-ray as well in case anyone has had a problem with a dog with elbow problems. My sister in law had a beloved Rottweiler Lab mix that they adopted from the pound and had to do surgery on his hips and elbows both. Elbow deformities are more rare, but are beginning to show up particularly in larger breeds.

We have OFA x-rayed many dogs back when we were showing, whether we decided to breed or not. We did these since we have to have Bubba collected for Erick Conard, his breeder, as part of our purchase agreement. Both his parents, all his grandparents, and any dogs Erick or most reputable breeders use in their breeding programs have all had OFA classifications done and passed with either very good to excellent classifications. Especially in large breed dogs, hip dysplasia can range from causing arthritis in very old dogs to Sentry's mind numbing diagnosis in puppyhood. I am not as good and kind as Bay and BJ. I hope no one hates me for admitting that I would have euthanized Sentry on seeing the x-rays and hearing the diagnosis. On the other hand, I don't think he would have been able to negotiate our steep terrain after the surgeries either. Depending on the breed there are a lot of genetic problems for which to test before breeding. I will not buy a dog without an OFA verification on both parents in order to avoid this heartbreak. Dogs get too many other unavoidable health problems to break our hearts. Remember when a lot of us recommend asking for these blood tests, x-rays, and records when buying breeding stock or working dogs, these are the problems we are trying to help everyone avoid.
I am anxious to see how Sentry comes along with this surgery and recovery through watching his progress through Bay's postings. I am rooting for him and them in this journey. According to Bay Sentry still will have to have another surgery on the other hip once he recovers on this one.

I am excited to see how he continues to develop. With the assistance of Paris and Trip, there is no reason Sentry cannot perform well as an LGD. He has the instincts and Bay's training to be a good one. At 9 months old his early LGD experience will keep him on track to continue being a good flock guardian. Even if he decides he wants to visit inside more often than he used to, having our LDGs inside for a couple hours at a time means good family time.

Hugs to Bay, BJ, and Sentry, and much thanks to Bay for posting this thread. :hugs
 

Baymule

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Sentry got his staples out today! The vet was very happy with his progress and said Sentry was doing great, better than he expected.

Sentry was cleared to go back outside, so he is in the barn in a 6’x6’pen. He can be next to the Sheep and be close to Trip and Paris. I will still go walk him a half dozen times a day for his exercise. I’ll take him around with me on a leash whenever I can.
 

Baymule

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This forum really is like a big family!
Yes it is. Most of us have NO ONE in our family or circle of friends who understands our obsession with our animals and gardens. This forum is full of people who share a common thread of total insanity. LOL LOL What is really great is when we actually get to meet one another face to face.
 

LMK17

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So sorry to hear about Sentry! My heart hurts for you- and for your pocket book! 😳 We went through essentially the same thing with our Sam. Not congenital hip dysplasia, but rather a hip that kept dislocating following the initial injury. We tried several times to go the more conservative route, and it quickly became apparent that we needed the FHO in order to give her a shot at a good quality of life. For what it's worth, Sam made a full and complete recovery, and she wasn't a spring chicken at the time, either. She was, IIRC, about 8. She's 12 now, and just as sprightly and bratty as always (I've posted/complained about her here before.) As you mentioned, the recovery was rough- and I'm sure it'll be all the worse with a puppy!- but now that she's over that hump, no one would ever guess she has no hip joint. You may well find that Sentry exceeds your expectations and goes on to become a fantastic LGD, so try to keep an open mind. I hope and pray for that outcome for you.
 

farmerjan

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@Baymule , I have to apologize for not reading this and seeing what you were going through with Sentry. I have only read some of the posts since I went in for the surgery. All the sitting has been getting to me, and I haven't had the patience to do alot of computer work with the constant being in the achey state. I am fortunate that it hasn't been the kind of pain that I was really anticipating or expecting. But I had no ability for concentration for more than a few minutes at a time.
I admire the decision you made for Sentry. I don't know what I would have done, but suspect that I probably would have gone the way you did. I know when my 12 yr old German Shepard was diagnosed with leukemia, I opted for some pills, and treatment although it was still somewhat expensive. But she also went downhill fast and quit eating and was in some pain. At that point I made the choice to put her down, but she passed on the evening the vet was going to meet me and put her down. She loved to ride in the truck, and I told her we were going to go for a ride, and helped her up into the back of the truck then the vet called and said he had an emergency and he would call me on his way home. When he called about 2 hours later, I went out to the truck and looked in the back and Emmy was laying there and I realized she was gone. I cried and called the vet back and told him that I wouldn't have to meet him because she was gone.
I can only feel glad that she passed knowing that she was going to go for a ride that she loved to do......And we had had a wonderful 8 years and she was no longer in pain or suffering.
Since there are others with more knowledge and experience with this that believe that Sentry will do good, I hope that things do go well for him. And as soon as the Medicare kicks in, your knee will be priority. But I do believe that you and your DH are the very best place and person for him. Best of luck to all of you.
 

Baymule

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We went to see The Call of The Wild. The dog, Buck, was animated. The animators gave Buck all kinds of humanized expressions. Both BJ and I were thinking of Sentry and his funny expressions. Uncanny.

So this evening I took him with me to feed, he ate his supper, we took a couple of walks and I brought him to the house for awhile. Carson came in too. Both dogs sprawled out in the floor and conked out. It started to get dark, so I put on my coat, to take him back to the barn. He watched me closely. I called him, I got an eye roll but no other movement. I asked him to go outside. He raised his head, walled his eyes at me and put his head back down. BJ was laughing. I asked Carson to go outside and he jumped up and went out the door. Not Sentry. Nope. Uh-uh. Not going. Sentry’s face told the story. By this time, BJ was laughing so hard, he was in tears. I was laughing too at his refusal to leave his comfortable floor. Barn? Hay? Sheep? Not happening!! I called Carson back in and both dogs are fast asleep. Score: Sentry 1 Me 0.
 

thistlebloom

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:hugsHow could we criticize you for a decision that is only yours and BJ's to make? Whichever way you decided only you know what you all are willing to go through for an animal you have a bond with. I would support your decision no matter which direction you took, because I know that you have the smarts and tenacity to do what you know needs to be done and you are a compassionate, capable and knowledgeable farmer.

Now Sentry has no clue why he hurts, but I don't think dogs lay awake at night pondering the trajectory of their lives.
Fortunately for him, he was blessed to fall into the hands of a family that can make decisions based on his potential well being. All he knows is that he is happy being with you and your family and he is appreciated back.
God has created life with such an amazing capacity to heal. And your vet sounds skilled and knowledgeable in this area, so it's not something experimental.
I appreciate you sharing Sentry's story, I know this chapter is a stressful one.
 

Mike CHS

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Like was said, whatever choice is yours but I wouldn't have thought negative of you if you had chose to put him down. That being said, as well as I know you two, I would have been completely surprised if you had chosen different than what you did.
 
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