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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Two hip replacements later, with x-rays to prove it.

Tess, surgical scar and all
Every pet is special of course, but our golden Tess is 'specialer' to us.

She (and her sister, Abby) are HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response  dogs, two of 235 in the country who respond to tragedies and crises where there is need for comfort. Classified as a working dog, Tess was last at the D.C. Naval Yard after the shooting there that took 13 lives.

But what sets her further apart from many is that she has just completed her second total hip replacement due to significant hip dysplasia in both hips--it was bone against bone, our vet told us after the surgery. Sadly, this is a genetic trait in some golden retrievers. What this picture shows is the shaved area and surgical incision on her left hip, stitches still in place. These x-rays tell the story:


One hip done last spring
This shows Tess with her first hip replacement. You can compare the artificial hip with the non-treated hip. We were told the degree of her dysplasia was 9 on a 10-point scale.






Tess with both hips replaced



This x-ray was taken just after the second surgery and it shows both new hips.

The rather amazing thing about a hip replacement in a dog vs. one in a human is that  they both seem very similar in technique and apparatus to a non-medical eye. The x-rays look eerily similar but the human version costs lots more. Lesson: Get your next hip replacement at the vets.

Tess's procedures were both done by Veterinary Surgical Referral Practice in Cary, NC. Our Labrador retriever, Abby, has had surgeries there for torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) on both of her hind legs, something Labs seem prone to do.

Amid all the owner trauma, we could never have imagined how comfortable we were with VSRP. These veterinary pros specialize in neurosurgery soft tissue and orthopedic surgery for pets. They really care for their patients... and just as vital, the patients' owners too. We, with lots of experience, highly recommend VSRP.

Tess moving well with both artificial hips
Our biggie... we have pet insurance by Petplan . The people at Petplan were incredibly helpful from our first contact on the web. Not only were they easy to work with but personal, caring and empathetic  They made a significant difference. Again, from our experience, we highly recommend Petplan.

As an aside, we know how fortunate we are to not only have the great dogs we do but the means to afford the reasonable insurance premiums and the co-pay difference. We are grateful.

A word about prognoses... Tess's sister Abby, with ACL surgeries on both hind legs at VSRP-- the last about three years ago--runs 4-5 miles with me three times a week. Abby is a powerhouse. She loves to run and, if we are on a downhill and she spots a squirrel, I'd be in trouble if I didn't have my feet under me. She is so strong.

Rear view
Tess, on one artificial hip for the last months before this latest surgery, moves comfortably on her first hip replacement. She very obviously and painfully favored her unrepaired hip.

Biggest warning: The rehab is a real pill. Tess was on her new hips the morning after both surgeries. She comfortably walks on the new hip and thinks she is almost ready to go. However, the bone needs to graft around the implant and that takes 16 weeks, so she must be kept low key. She can't run, slip, jump or romp until she meets the specific rehab schedule set down by VSRP.  Fortunately, our dogs 'get with the program' and that helps a lot. It's a commitment... but satisfyingly worth the effort.

If you have ever have the need for any of these services or wonder if this is the thing to do, don't hesitate to help your animal if it is at all possible. Our dogs are both seven-years-old and they have a greater mission than just being our pets, as if that wasn't enough. They are also both members of Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program for hospital, hospice and other animal assisted therapy needs and have specialized training for their HOPE AACR mission. They have a significant impact on many more than us.

This was a great decision for us. If you have the means and need, go for it. And if you live close enough, there would be no better way to proceed than than to use VSRP and Petplan. Both are competent pros that have meant much to us.



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