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Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 3/7/2009

Surgery for hip dysplasia isn t always the answer

Dear Dr. Thompson: I have an 8-month-old Lab. The vet said she has hip dysplasia in one hip and they want to send me to a specialist to do this TPO surgery. What do you think about it?

ANSWER: TPO is short for triple pelvic osteotomy. It is a procedure where three cuts are made in a young, growing dog s pelvis with the goal of improving the function of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia is a common condition in larger-breed dogs where the fit of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip is loose, which leads to arthritis as they age. In cutting and rotating the bones of the pelvis that make up the socket, the intent is to improve the coverage of the ball of the upper leg. This is supposed to result in better long-term function and avoid potentially debilitating arthritis as she ages.

However, this surgery has been met with mixed reviews. It is a very invasive surgery that involves cutting growing bones and placing metal plates and screws. It is a very time-specific procedure that needs to be performed between 6 and 12 months of age.

The other major drawback in my experience is that symptoms and X-rays in young dogs with hip dysplasia do not always correspond to a loss of function as they age. I have had many patients with advanced signs of hip dysplasia on X-rays at a year or less who have led long, healthy, active lives through weight control and regular exercise. This is not to say your dog may not be a candidate, but I typically reserve recommending this surgery for dogs that have dramatic loss of function at an early age from their hip dysplasia.

Dear Dr. Thompson: I have a weird and big problem. Our cat takes poop from kitty litter and plays with it and puts it all over the house! It can t be from a lack of toys. I bought a large cat tree house that has lots of activities attached, plus other toys. My vet said to try a squirt gun, which did not help either. Any suggestions?

ANSWER: Your problem is a unique manifestation of a common problem with cats. You mention you have plenty of toys, but they need to be the right kind of toys. Cats are predators, and their play activities reflect that behavior. Cats toys should tap into three predatory types which mimic the actions of mice, birds, or bugs.

Cats need toys that do something and likely the litter box presents fill this void. Search for a variety of types of toys and through trial and error you will find ones that he enjoys. Once you do, rotate them so he doesn t become bored with the assortment. Milk rings, aluminum-foil balls, empty plastic soda bottles with food inside are all inexpensive choices as well.

Dr. Tony Buffington, a veterinarian and researcher at Ohio State has developed a Web site that is a must-read for anyone who shares a home with a cat. The address is www.indoorcat.org. It is a great resource for insight into cat behaviors, conflicts, and needs, and can help prevent many troubles that arise from our collective misunderstanding of these fascinating creatures.

Questions for Dr. Thompson can be e-mailed to askthevet@theblade.com or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 North Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660. Dr. Thompson regrets that he cannot answer individual letters.



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