Treating a Hip Injury in Dogs

A dog hip injury normally occurs due to an event involving trauma. A force impact, such as a fall, getting hit by a car or abuse can all lead to a dislocation of the bone, called a hip luxation. Hip dysplasia, arthritis and muscle tears all display symptoms that are very similar to a hip injury. A hip injury can lead to problems like these in the future, so if pain and lameness of the area are suspected, it's important to treat a possible injury promptly.

Coxofemoral Hip Luxation

Coxofemoral hip luxation is a dislocation of the hip, usually due to an injury. This is caused when the head of the femur, which is the ball at the end of the thigh bone, is knocked out of the socket of the pelvis. When this happens, the dog will not be able to put full weight on the affected limb, and you may be able to hear a cracking noise when the limb is moved. Whether or not you are aware of any accident or trauma that may have led to this condition, it's important to have it diagnosed.

Diagnosing a Hip Injury

When a dog is showing symptoms of a hip injury, a number of tests will be performed to confirm the dislocation and check for additional damage, such as fractures. A thorough physical examination should be performed, along with x-rays of the affected area. A complete orthopedic exam will help to uncover the cause of lameness and abnormal motion within the area. If an injury is indicated, a chest x-ray will likely be performed to rule out bruising of the lungs or heart. This is necessary if the dog will be given anesthesia.

Treating a Hip Injury in Dogs

When a hip injury has occurred, there are several forms of treatment that must be administered. Emergency care may be necessary if the dog is in severe pain, losing blood, in shock or unconscious. Emergency care could consist of administration of oxygen and intravenous fluids to stabilize blood pressure. If wounds or bleeding are present, they will be cleaned, closed and bandaged. Fractures will be stabilized with a splint and pain medications may be administered until surgery options are discussed, if necessary.

Surgery for a Hip Injury

If a joint is dislocated due to a hip injury, there are surgical and non-surgical alternatives. Closed reduction, or non-surgical replacement of the joint, may be attempted shortly after the trauma. Anesthesia will be applied and the attempt made to reposition the femur back into the socket. If this procedure is unsuccessful or not possible, surgery will be required. Surgical replacement of the joint is called open reduction, and depending upon the type of injury, there are several possibilities for repairing the dislocation. The surgeon may be able to simply repair the existing joint, or prosthetic material may be used instead. If this is not recommended, alternatives may include insertion of a pin or a redirection of the hip muscles to properly reposition the entire hip.