Treatments for Sudden Hip Dislocation in Dogs

By Jane Meggitt

Sudden hip dislocation, or luxation, in dogs generally results from trauma. It can also result from degenerative joint disease. Depending on the result of X-rays and other particulars, a dog might or might not require surgery to repair the condition. If your dog show symptoms of hip dislocation, take him to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Sudden Hip Luxation

If your dog suffers a sudden hip luxation, it will be obvious that something is wrong with him. The dog will bear no weight on the affected leg, generally carrying the leg in the direction of the dislocation, either inward or outward. He may be in obvious pain. A dog can partially dislocate the joint, a condition known as subluxation. This occurs more often in dogs with osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia.

Closed Reduction Treatment

If your dog's radiographs indicate that he doesn't have arthritis, hip dysplasia or a broken hip, he could be a candidate for closed reduction treatment. This involves manually moving the head of the femur back into the pelvic surface, or acetabulum. In hips with an otherwise normal appearance, there's a 50 percent chance that this treatment will succeed and the dog won't require surgery. Your vet should know within a few weeks whether the closed reduction is sufficient.

Surgical Treatment

Open reduction treatment or surgery consists of hip replacement. The method the veterinary surgeon will use to replace the hip will depend on the vet's preference and your dog's diagnosis. Most dogs recover completely after hip replacement. If damage to the hip doesn't warrant replacement, your vet might perform a femoral head ostectomy, in which a "false joint" is installed after removing the neck and head of the femur. Dogs undergoing FHO often don't regain full function in the joint.

Recuperation and Management

Your vet will prescribe pain medication for your pet while he recuperates, and might or might not prescribe antibiotics to stave off infection. During this time, your dog will probably stay in a sling, with very limited exercise permitted. Because dogs experiencing hip dislocation often develop arthritis, your vet might recommend arthritis supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, or omega-3 fatty acids. Don't give your dog any supplement without veterinary approval. Dogs take up to four months post-surgery to completely recover.