I have a 17 week old GSD puppy. At 14 weeks of age I noticed the following warning signs of HD:
Difficulty and slow to rise,
I took him to the vet who performed a physical exam and observation of the puppy walking, sitting and running. The vet suspects early onset HD. We have now been referred to one of Sydney's top specialists to see if he is a suitable candidate for JPS.
I have done a lot of research into this and have noticed there is a LOT of misinformation out there so I am here to 1) Clarify some of the information, 2) See if anyone here has first hand experience in this procedure and 3) Update you all on my puppy's post-operative process.
1) Many breeders and owners seem to think PennHip is bad for pup's. They also believe 16 weeks is too young to diagnose HD or to undergo surgery. Further, there is a lack of information available from people who have actually had this procedure done but a lot of uninformed opinions on the topic.
The PennHip X-ray is the ONLY x-ray that can test for laxity in a young puppy. Regular hip screening is not suitable for a pup and even in a mature dog a regular x-ray (even the certification x-rays) do not test for laxity and do not assess potential for HD. Rather, they can determine the existance of HD or arthritis. PennHip does not cause permanent injury to sedated dogs except in extremely rare circumstances. The stats for PennHip related injuries match those of other x-ray types.
JPS can only be performed in young pups. Some vets will start JPS as early as 12 weeks up to 20wks however most agree that it needs to be performed between 16-18 weeks to have a higher success rate.
Most vets will recommend JPS without having done a radiograph as the radiograph is usually taken immediately prior to the surgery so the pup only has one anaesthetic. If the radiograph shows laxity between .3-.7 then JPS is indicated. Lower than .3 no surgery required. Higher than .7 and the chance of success is slim so other surgery or conservative treatment is better. JPS can prevent degeneration in very mild cases and can reduce further problems in mild-moderate cases. It is unlikely to be successful in severe cases but again may slow down degeneration.
The closer the pup is to 16wks the better the result. After 20wks it is too late to do JPS and the next best option is Bilateral pelvic osteotomy or Triple pelvic osteotomy at 6-12mnths of age (preferrable 6-9mnths). This is much more invasive with a longer recovery period and much higher cost.
JPS has the same recovery time as a spray/neuter procedure and these two procedures may be done at the same time. This means that in one session the pup has x-ray, JPS and desexing. This lowers cost and risk that comes from multiple anaesthetics.
Most breeders do NOT do adequate screening. They will have a go at me for saying that but it is the truth. They rely on x-rays at 12mnths or 2years of age to weed out HD dogs and select appropriate dogs for breeding. The problem with this is two-fold. Furstly, at 12mnths-2yrs the dog may not have HD yet but may still develop it later and secondly, most breeding screens that test hips do not test laxity which is the single best indicator of future HD.
Finally, Prevention of HD will increase the pup's ability to mature into an active arthritis free dog, decrease likelihood of further surgery requirements and ensure the dog has the most minimal recovery time and will not need multiple anaethetics to perform seperate ops.
Ok so based on all of this I am going ahead with JPS if my pup is deemed suitable after his x-ray. Has anyone else done this procedure, how did the pup go?
For anyone interested in JPS please do your research as it is definately not suitable for everyone and in most cases it is done on a pup that has no clinical signs of HD and so you may never know if the surgery was actually needed or not but in most cases it will result in better hip fit and stability overall.
Btw here is a link to one of the studies with more conservative findings:
Comparison of conservative management and juvenile pubic symphysiodesis in the early treatment of canine hip dysplasia.