VSOS - Veterinary Specialists treat Hip Dysplasia

Jason And Zorro

Jason had lost hope for his one-year-old 45kg black Labrador, Zorro.

They had just been told that Zorro’s severe hip dysplasia was inoperable due to his size, and his only option was a life of extreme pain managed by heavy medication.

That was until they met Dr Andrew Levien – specialist in small animal surgery at Veterinary Specialists of Sydney (VSOS) – who had earned a reputation over the years for making the impossible possible.

Jason loved Zorro and would do anything to help him. And thanks to a referral from his local vet, Dr Levien would get a chance to put that reputation to the test.

Severe Hip Dysplasia

X-rays reveal severe hip dysplasia before turning one

“It’s a funny story,” says Jason…

“We were approaching Christmas and Zorro wasn’t quite one yet. It was only when we were taking photos of him by the tree to send to the breeder as a ‘thank you for everything’, did we first realise there was some growing instability in his hips.”

Jason’s concerns about Zorro were well-founded. X-rays revealed Zorro indeed had severe hip dysplasia before the age of one, which is extremely rare.

Jason took Zorro and the X-rays to a well-regarded pet specialist who after a short consultation advised Jason that due to Zorro’s large size there was nothing that could be done. The advice Jason received was that surgery was just too risky and the specialist was not confident of a successful outcome.

Instead, the advice was to manage Zorro’s pain with heavy medication for the rest of his life.

“I’d never experienced this before so it was all pretty confronting and really depressing, to be honest,” says Jason.

“I had no idea what to do, but thankfully my local vet decided to then refer me to Dr Levien from VSOS. From that day on, the feeling around what might be possible was completely different.”

Referral For A World Class Vet Specialist

A referral for a world-class vet specialist in the comfort of the local clinic

Dr Levien and the VSOS team have an excellent reputation around Sydney for their mobile vet services, where they consult in vet practices and work alongside your regular vet.

Their highly trained team and cutting-edge equipment allowed them to provide services local vets aren’t regularly able to.

Meeting with Dr Levien at their local vet, Bondi Junction Vet, was really convenient for Jason as Zorro could get anxious and over-excited (or “crazy” as Jason puts it) in new surroundings, but the familiarity of his local vet and vet nurses made the consultation with their new vet specialist even easier.

From the moment they met Dr Levien, everything felt different.

“From the very outset, Dr Levien was really welcoming and confident. He spent a lot of time with Zorro before looking up at us and saying ‘I can do this’,” says Jason.

Communication And Empathy

Confidence, communication and empathy

Dr Levien went on to explain that it would be a tough road ahead, but he was completely confident that Zorro was a strong candidate for a successful THR (total hip replacement).

“He had a good look at Zorro and had a look at the X-rays. He really gave Zorro a thorough checking out. He was very reassuring but at the same time also totally honest and up front…

He told us that no operation has a 100% guarantee, but as long as it goes well and we follow his very strict, careful plan after surgery then there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be a success.”

This was completely different advice to what they had been given previously. But Dr Levien went into detail as to the reasons why he thought Zorro would be successful with a THR. He clearly explained that more recent surgical advancements in this area increased the possibility for hip replacements in larger dogs.

He even went as far as to show them other even larger dogs that he had done similar surgeries for.

Dr Levien’s confidence, his clear communication and his empathy for Zorro made Jason comfortable enough to agree to the surgery.

Total Hip Replacements

Not one, but two total hip replacements

Zorro’s hip replacement surgery was a complete success. But it doesn’t end there.

During that surgery it became clear to Dr Levien that despite Zorro only being one year old, his other hip was also suffering badly, to the point where he had already developed arthritis around his joints.

“Zorro had his left hip done initially, but as it turned out both hips were displaced,” says Jason. “There was some early onset arthritis in the bone so it was a pretty big operation.”

Despite this additional hurdle, Dr Levien never wavered or lost confidence in his own ability to help Zorro, nor Zorro’s ability to get through this challenge to live a long and happy life.

Time was allowed for Zorro to recover from his first surgery, which he did successfully. He then had his second THR before the age of two.

These were costly procedures, but Jason recalls Dr Levien being very transparent with the charges and doing everything he could with the vet hospital to keep the costs as low as possible.

“He made it really clear what all the charges were going to be well in advance, so we had time to prepare. He also worked with the hospital on our behalf to get the best price, seeing we were having two surgeries and two rounds of rehab,” says Jason.

Like A New Dog

Zorro is like a new dog!

Both Jason and Dr Levien were determined to make sure Zorro’s rehab was a complete success.

Dr Levien’s rehab plan was to err on the side of caution with Zorro’s post-op movement and rehabilitation.

As a result, some of the recommended time frames were extended as mobility increased.

And where are they now?

“Zorro is like a new dog!” says Jason.

“It’s just unreal to see how far he’s come. Andrew still keeps in touch, too, which is amazing. He’s always requesting little videos of Zorro to see how he’s going. I sent him one just the other day and he replied, ‘Awesome! He’s moving great’.”

Dr Levien’s reputation for making the impossible possible remains intact as Zorro now enjoys a pain-free – and heavy medication-free – life with his family.


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