Sienna’s FHO Journey

We will never know exactly what happened to Sienna.  It’s likely that she was hit by a car, but it’s possible that she was kicked extremely hard or hit with a shovel or something equally horrible.  Whatever happened, her hips and pelvis will never be quite right. 

When she was with her foster mom, the foster would notice that Sienna would limp sometimes and also that her stools were never properly formed.  They were always thin and flattish, like thick ribbons.  The rescue sent Sienna for x-rays, and it was determined that she was not a candidate for total hip replacement, but would benefit from a femoral head ostectomy (FHO).  FHO surgery is where they remove the ball of the femur bone (the part that normally sits inside the socket) and muscle and scar tissue support the leg in its place.  By eliminating the bone on bone contact, it helps to alleviate the associated pain.

We found out that she needed the surgery the night before we were scheduled to meet her.  We already had a ramp to our bed as our last dog had developed hip dysplasia near the end of his life.  I was also working from home due to covid, and knew I would be able to dedicate the necessary time to her recovery.  The surgery didn’t frighten us off.

Sienna had her surgery about 6 weeks after she joined our home.  It was good timing, as it allowed her to settle in a bit first.  It also gave us time to prepare the house.  My husband built a ramp off the back porch.  We live in a bungalow, so luckily there are no stairs to contend with inside.  We set up foam mats on the livingroom floor, covered with an old blanket that could be easily swapped out to keep Sienna’s recovery area super clean, and also put up a large playpen to keep the dogs separated.  We even started practicing some of the rehab steps so that it would seem more normal after the surgery. 

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I dropped her off early in the morning and got a call in the early afternoon that I could come get her.  To my amazement, she walked out using all 4 legs!  She was bright and alert and showed minimal signs of discomfort.  She was given a thorough regiment of painkillers and medications, and we headed home. 

I slept with her in the livingroom the first few nights, not wanting her to be alone. She had to wear a cone at all times so that she wouldn’t gnaw at the wound and open up her stitches.  The rehab and medication schedule was intense for the first few weeks.  I was glad I took the first week off.  Between massage, icing the wound, exercises and using heat pads several times a day, it kept me busy.  She was only allowed potty breaks at first, but needed to be supported with a belly band to make sure she didn’t have any slips (especially since this was her first Canadian winter and it was icy!). 

She did so well, but once we were supposed to increase her walking, her stubbornness and PTSD reared it’s head.  She refused to walk more than a few houses away, and it was due to fear.  With the help of a trainer, we learned some alternative games and exercises we could use in the house and the yard.  We also started swim therapy and stared seeing a chiropractor. 

We learned that if we drove to the park, Sienna was happy to go for a walk, but still doesn’t like to walk on the streets.  Funnily enough, we also found out that while she is an excellent swimmer, she really hates the water. 

The hair they had shaved at the incision site took over six months to start growing in well.  It wasn’t until we bought a little rubber curry comb style brush and started using it that it finally grew back.  Several people have suggested that it stimulated the hair follicles. 

As I write this in August 2022, Sienna is more than a year and a half post surgery and doing great.  Most days you would never know there is anything wrong with her.  Her hips and pelvis are still a little off (and her stools are still ribbons), but she is pain free and happy.  She now does fast trots and we’ve even seen her run a few times (something she never did before).  She still doesn’t jump up, but she comfortably jumps down from things and loves putting her front paws up.  She continues to gain strength and confidence! 

9 responses to “Sienna’s FHO Journey”

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