I’m holding a life in my hands…again. This time it’s just the dog…but Yah, it worries me. Who would’ve thought we’d be so attached to the dog. Sigh…
He’s been gimping around here a few weeks, and getting steadily worse. One vet suggested (at a cost of $80) that he tweaked a knee and just needed a couple weeks to heal up. A couple weeks later, worse instead of better, we took him to a different vet for a second opinion. This vet actually did x-rays and a full diagnosis (for less $$ than the 1st vet).
Hershey has hip dysplasia, and is in a lot of pain. One of his hips is destroyed, the ball and socket loose and seperated. Whether from the genetic disease of hip displasia, or from an injury while he was developing, the vet cannot say.
Hip dysplasia effects most of the large breed dogs to some degree. It basically means that the joints, particularly the hips, don’t form correctly and in severe cases cannot take the stress of a dogs life. They seperate and cause intense pain and limited mobility. The treatment is either expensive or fatal. It’s either surgery or put the dog down.
For the degree of damage in Hershey’s case there are two surgical options:
The first is complete hip replacement. The damaged bone and socket are excised. A custom joint replacement is created and installed. Multiple x-rays, a major surgery, physical therapy, and an extensive recovery period are involved. It is expensive. Really expensive.
The second is called “Femoral Head and Neck Excision”. They remove the ball off the bone, clean up the socket, and stitch a bit of cartlidge and muscle in place. The relief from the pain is immediate and they start using the leg as soon as the anesthesia wears off. The muscle develops and takes the stress that the joint would have. Most dogs achieve total mobility this way, but they will never be a performance dog…running trials and such. This is considered a “salvage” operation. It is expensive too, but is about one-sixth the cost of the hip replacement.
The important part in Hershey’s case is that is other hip is formed correctly. If it was damaged or deformed as well, he would face a lifetime of painkillers, pain, and limited mobility. He’s a young dog. Even as fantastic a companion as Hershey is, there’s a tough decision here. I would have to make it.
With one healthy hip, he has a chance at a decent dog’s life. We have choices.
The hip replacement is simply out of the question. The cost and our budget is such that even if we could finance it, we couldn’t pay the payments. Combine that with the uncertainty at work, and I. Simply. Cannot.
Sometimes being an adult, with all the choices and responsibilities, sucks.
We can’t really afford either option. But those big brown eyes…
Hershey is the wife’s dog. He accompanies her everywhere he can. He watches her, takes her to get the mail, rides in the car with her, and even helps her with the laundry.
I should put him down. I. Simply. Cannot. The wife has big brown eyes too.
Keeping watch on the wife.
The only reason he’s sleeping here is that the wife is laying on the floor reading a newspaper…
Hershey goes in for Femoral Head and Neck Excision surgery on April 18th.
Best of luck to the big brown dog.
ps: Here’s a good resource for information about canine hip dysplasia.