Hip Dislocation in Dogs

Hip dislocation is also known as coxofemoral luxation. It occurs when the head of the femur separates from the socket and this usually happens when the dog has experienced some trauma. It can occur in pets of all ages, breeds and both sexes. Dogs with a dislocated hip should be treated immediately in order to avoid complications.

Hip Dislocation

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball is the head of the femur or the thigh bone, and the socket is a part of the pelvis known as the acetabulum. The head of the femur is held in the acetabulum by a ligament and the upper rim of the acetabulum. In case of trauma, the ligament that holds the femur in place breaks. If left untreated, it can result in a false joint that isn't as strong and can cause the dog to have a limp and a shorter leg.

Symptoms of Hip Dislocation in Dogs:

  • Your dog will favor the affected limb and not put weight on it.
  • There is a cracking noise at the joint.
  • There is a shortening of the affected limb.
  • Your pet will appear lethargic and will be reluctant to move or climb stairs.
  • He will appear stiff or sore, especially when rising after sleeping for a few hours.


The vet will confirm diagnosis of the hip dislocation with tests such as a thorough physical exam, chest X-rays, X-rays of the pelvic region and an orthopedic exam.


Pain medication is administered to ensure comfort and minimize pain. It's best to confine the dog and minimize his activities in order to aid the healing process.

Medical Correction

In some dogs, it's possible to do a medical correction or a closed reduction without any need for surgery. After the dog is anesthesized, the head of the femur is gently placed in the socket and the area is taped to keep it in position. A splint is applied to keep the femur in the socket and an X-ray is taken to ensure that the femur is in the right place. Another X-ray is taken after a week to ascertain that the femur is still in position. The splint is removed after three weeks, by which time the joint should have healed. Medical correction isn't successful in all cases of canine hip dislocation.

Surgical Correction

Surgical correction or open reduction may be required in some dogs suffering from hip dislocation. The specialist replaces and stabilizes the head of the femur in the joint with the help of surgery. After the surgery, a sling might be needed to hold the leg in place. You have to restrict your pet's activities to aid the healing process. Care should be taken to not cause trauma to the incision.

While your pet is recuperating, make sure that he has plenty of nutritious food, fresh water and rest. He should be given a private place to sleep so that he is free from stress and can recover quickly.