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Hip Luxation In Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, And Diagnosis

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Hip luxation in dogs is a traumatic injury that leads to painful spots in the hip region. Read on to learn more about this condition in dogs.

Hip luxation is a condition that occurs in dogs when a trauma, such as a car accident, occurs.

Still, it’s known that this condition may occur even in play, sports, or while running over household stairs.

Trauma comes in many forms, and on different levels. Plus, trauma can happen anywhere, at any time, at any age, and isn’t something that can be prevented.

Honestly saying, there is no way to eliminate the risk for your dog. Also, dogs who are prone to hip dysplasia, like large dog breeds such as St. Bernard and Great Dane, are at more risk.

If you are buying a dog from a breeder, make sure that you ask to see the bitch and OFA certification of healthy hips. Still, this doesn’t mean that the puppy will be without any hip problems, but can still provide some comfort.

Responsible breeders will always be happy to share this and any other medical information on the dog with you. Otherwise, you are dealing with puppy mills, and you should walk away.

What is Hip Luxation?

Simply explained, hip luxation stands for a dislocated hip. Medically speaking, hip luxation is explained as a coxofemoral luxation because the ball-and-socket joint formed by the pelvis and the femur’s head is called the coxofemoral joint.

The hip joint is surrounded and held by a strong round ligament, and the joint capsule is stabilized by the surrounding muscles. When the displacement of the head of the femur occurs, from the acetabulum (also known as the socket).

For hip luxation to happen certain steps need to occur – in fact, the right ligament and the joint capsule must have been torn completely, which actually allows the femur to become dislocated. These injuries often lead to damage to the muscles of the hip.

Symptoms of Hip Luxation in Dogs

The most common and most spread symptom of hip luxation is the sudden refusal to bear weight on the limb. It’s more likely that the limb will be turned inward and appear short.

It’s also possible for the limb to be held away from the body, although this may vary depending on the type of luxation.

Most common symptoms that something may be wrong with your dog’s hip:

  • Unable to weight bear
  • Limping
  • Vocalization of pain
  • Limb set at an odd angle

The most common type of luxation is craniodorsal luxation, making up to 80% of luxation. When does craniodorsal luxation occur? It occurs when the femur is pulled upwards.

On the other hand, another common luxation is caudoventral luxation, which occurs when the femur is pulled down.

Causes of Hip Luxation in Dogs

This may vary from dog to dog, but one is mutual when it comes to causes of hip luxation – this condition comes from trauma.

It comes from some kind of trauma, and trauma comes in different forms. Here are the most common causes of hip luxation in dogs:

  • Car accident
  • Dog sports
  • Play
  • Stairs
  • Hip dysplasia
  • High BMI (body to mass Index)
  • Early frame growth
  • Poor breeding practices
  • Free feeding

Diagnosis of Hip Luxation in Dogs

This is a sensitive condition that cannot be diagnosed without your veterinarian’s help.

As soon as you notice any of the symptoms of hip luxation listed above, you should contact yoru veterinarian and make an appointment.

A physical exam is always needed to diagnose hip luxation, especially when a traumatic event is known. To identify any other injuries an x-ray may be helpful.

You should know that the force required to produce hip luxations is always strong, and as such can also damage the urinary system, heart, lungs, and any other body organ.

Next to physical examination, your veterinarian will most likely perform:

  • Bloodwork
  • X-rays
  • Additional radiographs

What About Treatment?

Hip luxation can be treated. It can be treated with closed or open reduction. The initial treatment is commonly closed reduction. If this goes south, that the other option is open reduction.

Closed reduction means that your veterinarian will try to put the femoral head back into place without surgery.

To do this, the dog will be put under general anesthesia, and while the dog is set on the table, the veterinarian will try to physically manipulate the joint.

Afterward, a figure of eight bandages is applied to the dog to keep weight off the limb and to maintain for up to two weeks. During this time, the dog is put on crate restriction.

If for some reason, an open reduction is mandatory, then your veterinarian will have to remove soft tissues obstructing the joint.

As a general rule, the ligament is artificially replaced through a procedure named transarticular pinning.

Is it possible for open and closed reduction to miss to deliver results?

Yes, this is possible in some rare cases. In that case, a dog may undergo a total hip replacement.

Recovery of Hip Luxation in Dogs

Unfortunately, closed hip luxation in many cases doesn’t work.

On the other hand, an open hip luxation has an amazing success rate of up to 90%. Keeping excess weight off your dog, because a healthy weight can help with any cases.

Make sure that you keep your dog on a leash when on walks to prevent trauma from recurring.

Do your best to provide a proper exercise regime and proper nutrition.

Control of meals is important if you want to keep the dog’s weight in order and his healhty in balance.

What Is The Recovery Time For A Hip Dislocation?

Everything starts with physical therapy. This is an important step when it comes to the first-week recovery. Physical therapy is important to prevent loss of range of motion.

It’s crucial to strengthen leg muscles, so the dog can become pain-free in a period of 4 to 8 weeks. Expected time for full recovery?

Full recovery usually occurs in a period of 3 to 4 months, after a hip dislocation.

Is It Possible To Prevent Hip Dislocation?

Simply said, no. Hip discoloration occurs because unplanned events happen, and that is something that cannot be prevented.

Hip Luxation Aftercare

Often, the aftercare and healing processes can be long, time-consuming, and usually expensive.

No matter how well the operation or any other activity goes, you need to arm yourself with patience. Prepare for what’s coming.

Longer periods of restriction are heading. You can expect your dog’s activities to be restricted for at least six to eight weeks.

After any intervention limb musculature is sensitive and should be monitored carefully.

Aftercare is all about the custom approach because no condition is the same. Aftercare will always be customized for both recovery and repair performance.

It’s important to know that any additional injury, intense physique, and any other physical ailment will influence recovery guidelines.

The post-surgery period is usually followed by controlled activities and certain exercises in a duration of a minimum of two weeks.

It’s important to remain calm during this period and not let things frustrate you.

There will be moments that you won’t be able to control and it’s important to acknowledge them.

If you need additional help, look for it. If there is anything suspicious, talk to your veterinarian.

No matter how hard it becomes, know that even the most complicated recoveries are just stressful and frustrating, and not that dangerous.

Certain complications can delay recovery and limit the ultimate outcome.

A simple and unplanned slip can make the recovery process longer and more disturbing.

Also, post-treatment activity can cycle implants causing them to migrate and break.

With this in mind, the most important thing during the recovery is to keep your Fido engaged while testing and to avoid any unplanned accidents.

Does Your Dog Have Hip Dysplasia?

We have already discussed common symptoms of hip luxation in dogs, but it cannot harm to discuss it further.

Dogs are vocal beings, who have a language of their own. Since they cannot talk human, they cannot discuss what bothers them.

Therefore, it is up to humans to master their dog’s body language and recognize when something bothers them health-wise.

Hip luxation in dogs is a common condition, especially in larger breeds, such as Rottweilers, and German shepherds.

It usually leads to significant pain, mobility issues, and joint laxity. Therefore, it is important to notice any unusual movement, so you can help your dog live longer and healthier.

The best way to know for sure if your dog has hip luxation is to know his normal behavior and movement. This way you will be able to notice any unusual behavior and movement.

To avoid these conditions and many others, you should first deal with your dog’s weight.

Keeping your dog’s weight at an optimal level is the best thing you can do for your dog’s overall health.

Know how to recognize if your dog is obese or not and if you have any concerns about the dog’s weight talk to your veterinarian.

Don’t overdue with treats and human foods, because dogs thrive on food that’s specially designed for them.

This is especially important when your dog is a young dog or a puppy.

For additional security and prevention, you can always screen a dog’s hip with x-rays.

This way you can determine how likely it is for your dog to have problems in the future.

This is also a good way to learn about your dog’s built, especially if you have to consider early surgical intervention.

As a general rule, hip luxation should affect a dog’s life expectancy, although it can.

If your dog gets so disturbed that every move is painful, and he no longer wants to get up and walk around, it will be difficult to maintain a good quality of life.

This is even more true if your dog is of a larger breed. If you have a large size dog, you need to be extra careful about his health.

This is why you should talk with your veterinarian about the proper care of large breeds.

Know how much you should feed your large dog, how often you should walk him, and how long walks he needs.

To keep dogs’ hips and joints healthy, and maintain their weight optimal, you need to know how much additional exercise you need to provide.

If you have a puppy make sure that you don’t over-exercise him because puppies are prone to various body issues.

If you have a senior dog, you need to provide proper exercise for your senior dog. To be prepared for anything, do your best to be fixed.

Talk to your veterinarian about hip and elbow dysplasia, know how to prevent it and what are your options.

Your veterinarian will always know your dog the best and will help you with any health plan for your dog.

The Bottom Line

Aging is part of every dog’s life and it’s up to you to make that process as smooth as possible.

You need to provide a stress-free environment for your dog, proper nutrition, and adequate training and exercise time.

This is the most effective way to keep your dog’s joints and hips healthy, next to keeping his weight optimal.

Do whatever is in your power to keep your dog healthy as long as possible.

Help your dog by setting the right environment: remove any wires and other items from the floor that your dog could trip over, remove any obstacles that could make your dog trip, and move plants away if they are on your dog’s path.

Create a safe place for your Fido to stay away from any additional stressors.

Try to minimize stressful situations, and let the environment be quiet as much as possible.

Dogs love routine, even when they are in stressful times, so implement changes gradually.