Treatment with medication is usually the first step
• Corticosteroids are used. It is safe medicine when given to dogs and it reduces swelling. It is injected directly into the Maltese dog’s hip joint.
• Acetaminophen can be given to dogs, under the veterinarian’s care. Vigilant dosing must be done, as too much can cause liver problems
• NSAID (Aspirin or new buffered types of Rimadly, Carprofen, Metacam or Meloxiam) medications may be given to a Maltese. These assist to reduce swelling, tenderness and inflexibility. It is imperative to note that a dog owner should in no way give medication to their Maltese dog without the vet’s guidance. Many human pain medications are toxic to the Maltese breed.
• Special dog supplements, called Visco-supplementation can be helpful. This gel type material is injected straight into the dog’s hip joint. It lubricates the socket and joint; therefore helping with pain. This supplement can help to increase ability to move better. However, this only works temporarily.
If a Maltese dog’s hip or hips continues to degenerates, surgery is the next step.
If detected early on, when the Maltese dog is still a puppy and the joint and sockets are still mostly intact:
• A surgical procedure can be carried out in which the dog’s pelvis is cut into 3 separate parts. These are then repositioned to fit correctly. The Maltese dog will need to rest for about 8 weeks once this operation is done.
For dogs with serious deterioration of the joint or if the joint is fully out of place:
• The dog’s pelvic joint may need to be removed. This sounds serious; however many dogs actually do so much better once this is done. They compensate very well for the missing joint and have a much higher quality of life than with an abnormal hip that causes pain and does not allow for proper movement. A dog will need to rest for up to 8 weeks and will improve each week in their ability to walk.
• Total hip
replacement surgery is an option. This is considered to be major surgery. An
implant made of the material cobalt chrome stainless steel is placed inside the
dog as the “ball” portion of the hip and a socket made of high tech plastic is
used in place of the dog’s hip socket. In many cases, this will allow a Maltese
dog to resume an entirely active life. Up to 8 weeks of rest will be needed afterward. Progress to a previously active exercise routine will be steady
and will increase each week.