Dislocated Hip in Dogs: Common Causes and Treatment

12 June, 2020
It's normally caused by a serious injury or accident, and as a result, your dog may suffer injuries to other parts of the body.

A dislocated hip is one of the most common injuries in cats and dogs. Today, we’ll look a little bit more at the causes, prevention, and treatment for a dislocated hip in dogs.

What is a dislocated hip and what causes it?

A dislocated hip is when the ball end of the femur comes out of the joint socket, which is called the acetabulum. It’s almost always caused by physical trauma or a blow and usually happens when the dog is around 11 or 12 months old.

Poodles and German Shepherds have a greater predisposition for this injury. It’s particularly common in large and medium-sized dogs because they usually suffer from hip dysplasia, which means they’re much more likely to dislocate their hips.

A white labrador looking at the camera.

Hip dysplasia is when the joint socket doesn’t completely cover the ball of the joint. This causes inflammation, pain, and stress and can weaken both the joint and the surrounding tissue. Because of this weakness, a dislocated hip is much more likely.

Symptoms and diagnosis

A dislocated hip in dogs is a painful injury that affects their ability to move and keep their balance. Their legs are usually retracted inwards or outwards, depending on the type of dislocation. However, in most cases, the femur displaces outward.

A dislocated hip can cause a number of other injuries to the surrounding tissues. Therefore, it’s important that you go straight to the vet for a general and orthopedic check-up.

If the dislocation has been caused by a blow or trauma, then it’s important to remember that the required force is quite strong. This makes it likely that the bladder, lungs, or other organs have also been damaged. This is why it’s important to take them straight to the vet.

An x-ray of a dislocated hip in dogs.

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, the most common tests to detect and diagnose possible injuries are the following:

  • Blood tests. These can indicate the condition of your dog’s internal organs and if there is any infection, which can happen if there is an open wound.
  • X-rays of the hip to examine the angle of dislocation and other possible joint damage.
  • Additional x-rays of the chest, spine, or abdomen, in the case the dislocated hip has been caused by a very serious accident.

Treatment for a dislocated hip in dogs

  • A non-surgical reduction or closed reduction of the hip joint. This procedure takes place out under general anesthetic and the recommended time is usually around three or four days after the injury. This is due to the complications that these sorts of injuries can cause.
  • A surgical reduction which involves treating damaged tissues and installing an implant to support the joint. This is a more invasive technique that also involves some rehabilitation after the operation.
  • Osteotomy of the end of the femur. This involves removing the ball of the joint to create a ‘false’ joint. However, vets will normally only do this if other techniques aren’t possible. The dog will lose some mobility, but they will no longer have the risk of dislocating their hip. They’ll also need regular physiotherapy sessions to improve mobility as much as possible.
  • Total hip replacement. The natural joint is replaced by a mold made with synthetic materials.

La luxación de cadera en perros: prevención y casos comunes