Dog Hip Dislocation Causes,
Symptoms and Treatment

dog hip dislocation treatment

Dog Hip Dislocation is a disease that can attack young and older animals alike.  It presents quite painful symptoms and can greatly affect our pet’s quality of life.  Knowing the causes, propensities, symptoms and treatments available for hip dysplasia in dogs is indispensable for all pet owners in order to attack the disease in time and thus help improve the lives of our pets.

What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

dog hip dislocation

To understand hip dysplasia in dogs we must have a basic understanding of the joint and how it is being affected.

The dog hip joint forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body and is a patella type joint. The ball-shaped portion is the head of the femur, while the socket (acetabulum) is located in the pelvis.  In a normal joint, the ball rotates freely in the socket to facilitate movement, the bones are formed to fit perfectly with each other with the socket surrounding the head of the femur.

To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament.  The ligament is attached from the femoral head directly to the acetabulum.  In addition, the joint capsule, which is a very strong band of connective tissue, surrounds the two bones,  adding even more stability.  The area where the bones touch each other is called the joint surface.  It is perfectly soft and padded with a layer of spongy cartilage; the set contains a very viscous fluid that lubricates the joint surfaces.

In a dog with normal hips, all these factors work together to make the joint work smoothly and with stability.  Hip dysplasia in dogs is associated with an abnormal joint structure and relaxation of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that normally support the functioning of the joint.  As laxity develops in the joint, the joint surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other, this separation of the two bones within the joint is called subluxation, and this causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.

Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips, but because of their genetic makeup (and possibly other factors), the soft tissues surrounding the joint cause an abnormal increase in subluxation.

It is subluxation and remodeling of the hip which leads to the symptoms that we associate with this disease.  Hip dysplasia may or may not be bilateral, i.e. it affects both the right and/or left hip.

Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips, but because of their genetic makeup (and possibly other factors), the soft tissues surrounding the joint cause an abnormal increase in subluxation.  It is subluxation and remodeling of the hip which leads to the symptoms that we associate with this disease.  Hip dysplasia may or may not be bilateral, i.e. it affects both the right and/or left hip.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Dogs of all ages are at risk of developing hip dysplasia and thus the resulting osteoarthritis.

In severe cases, puppies as young as five months will begin to show pain and discomfort during and after exercise.  The disease will worsen until even normal daily activities become painful.  Without medical intervention, these dogs may become unable to walk.  However, in most cases, the symptoms do not begin to show up until the intermediate or late years of the dog’s life.

The  symptoms are similar to those seen with other types of arthritis in the hip.  Dogs often walk or run with a gait disturbance.  They can withstand movements that require full extension or flexing of the hind legs.

Many times, they move with a ‘rabbit leap’ on the march.  It will show stiffness and pain in the hind legs after exercise in the early hours of the morning.  Also,  they may have difficulty climbing stairs.  In milder cases, dogs will warm up with a gait and momentarily disappear the stiffness with movement and exercise.  Some dogs have limp and many will become less willing to participate in normal daily activities.

Many owners attribute the changes to normal aging, but after starting treatment, they are surprised to see a normal and painless return of the gait.  As the disease progresses, most dogs will lose muscle tone and may even need help getting up.

Some cases of hip dysplasia are so mild that there are no symptoms, but if your dog appears rigid or has pain in the hips when he or she appears to be unwilling to exercise or climb stairs, or if shows abnormal walking, visit the Vet as soon as possible.

What Dogs Are Likely To Develop Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia most commonly affects the larger dog breeds, including Bulldogs, Mastiffs, American Staffordshire Terriers, St. Bernard, German Shepherds, and Rottweiler’s. However, dogs of all races and of all sizes are susceptible to this hereditary disease, including some small breeds such as French pugs and bulldogs.

What are the risk factors for developing hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is caused by a subluxation of the hip joint. This creates abnormal wear and erosion of the joint and as a result arthritis and pain develop. The disease process is fairly simple; the controversy begins when trying to determine what predisposes the animals to contract the disease.

Some of the risk factors that have been mentioned are:


Researchers agree that hip dysplasia is a genetic disease. If a parent has hip dysplasia, their offspring are at increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. If there are no carriers of hip dysplasia in the lineage of a dog, then it is very likely that the disease will not contract. We can greatly reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia through selective breeding. Although not a whole litter develops the disease, these animals will be carriers and it is probable that the disease will be shown in its descendants in later generations.


Nutrition, like the number of calories a dog consumes and when in the dog’s life they are consumed has a great impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.

Experimentally, it has been shown that obesity can increase the severity of the disease in genetically susceptible animals. It is logical to think that carrying extra weight will aggravate the degeneration of a dog’s joints; Including the hip. Dogs that may have been born genetically prone to hip dysplasia and are overweight are, therefore, at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.

Feeding your dog a diet that has too much calcium or too little as well as other minerals can also have a detrimental effect on the development of the hip joint. However, with today’s complete and balanced dog food this has become an unusual occurrence. The practice of feeding dogs with homemade foods is popular with some dog owners but these diets should be carefully monitored to maintain proper nutritional balance; not just for calcium and other essential minerals, but for all nutrients.


Exercise can be another risk factor. It appears that dogs that are genetically susceptible to the disease may have a higher incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at an early age.

But at the same time, we know that dogs with large and prominent muscle mass on their paws are less likely to get the disease than dogs with small muscle mass. Therefore, exercising and maintaining good muscle mass may actually decrease the incidence of the disease. Moderate exercise that strengthens the gluteal muscles, such as running and swimming, is probably a good idea.

While activities that apply a lot of force to the joint are contraindicated, an example of these excessive activities would be jumping and exercises such as playing catch the freebie.

How is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed in Dogs?

Diagnosis of hip dysplasia in dogs is typically done by combining a thorough physical examination that reveals clinical signs of arthritis and pain and x-rays. If a dog is showing external signs of arthritis, there are usually recognizable changes in the joint that can be seen on X-rays.

In addition, the veterinarian may even be able to feel dislocation in the joint or may be able to cause pain through extension and flexion of the hind paw. In any case, the results are clear and generally not difficult to interpret.

dog hip dislocation treatment

How can hip dysplasia be treated in dogs?

Because hip dysplasia is caused by a hereditary defect, there are no products that can prevent its development. There are several surgical options, including a complete hip replacement; however, a combination of healthy diet, maintain a normal weight, exercise, massage, warm and dry bedrooms, common supplements, and potentially prescription veterinary drugs to relieve Pain can help control the disease. Your veterinarian will assist you with a daily pain relief program that is right for your dog.

Weight control:

Helping a dog maintain his or her recommended weight may be the simplest step a pet owner can take with hip dysplasia. Surgical procedures and medical therapies will be much more successful if the animal is not overweight. You, as the owner, have control over what your dog eats. If you feed a quality meal in an appropriate amount for the size, activity level and breed of your dog, your dog should be able to maintain an ideal weight. If your dog is overweight, seek advice from your veterinarian regarding a low calorie dog food and exercise program.


Exercise is equally important in losing or maintaining proper weight. Exercises that provide the good range of motion and favor muscle building are best for hip dysplasia in dogs. Walking, swimming, walking on treadmills, and running slow are excellent low-impact exercises. Keep in mind that an exercise program needs to be individualized for each case depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis, weight, age, and physical condition. In general, lack of exercise can be more harmful than too much, however, the wrong type of exercise can cause more harm.


Warm and Comfortable Sleeping Areas: Most people with arthritis find that symptoms tend to worsen in cold, wet weather. Keeping your pet warm can help you become more comfortable. Providing an orthopedic foam bed helps many dogs with arthritis. Beds with orthopedic foam distribute the weight evenly and reduce pressure on the joints.


Massage and Physical Therapy: Your veterinarian or veterinary staff can show you how to perform physiotherapy and massage on your dog to help relax stiff muscles and promote a good range of motion in the joints. Remember that your dog has pain, so start slowly by caressing the area and advance until you gently knead the muscles surrounding the joint with your fingers using small circular motions.

Making Daily Activities Less Painful: Climbing up and down stairs is often difficult for arthritic dogs, this may mean that going out to urinate and defecating can be very difficult. Many people buy or build ramps, especially on the stairs leading to their yard, to make it easier for their dogs to get out. Ramps also make getting on a car easier for patients with hip dysplasia.


Supplements: Some supplements like Glucosamine with Chondroitin have long been used to treat joint degeneration caused by hip dysplasia in dogs. Helps with cartilage maintenance of the joint. Omega 3 is used to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory capabilities in the joints. Methyl sulfonyl methane helps in the production of collagen and is believed to help reduce the production of scar tissue as well as being a good anti-inflammatory agent.



Medications: There are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory supplements like ChondroPaw® that we highly recommend, to combat the symptoms of arthritis resulting from hip dysplasia in dogs and help, on the other hand, are used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with this disease.


How can hip dysplasia be prevented in dogs?

Taking into account that hip dysplasia in dogs is an inherited condition, it is not possible to establish a way to prevent its occurrence. The best thing to do is to take the necessary care to delay the appearance of symptoms and this is done simply by taking care of the weight, feeding, and type of exercises that our pet does, this increases the time in which it develops Arthritis in dogs with a genetic predisposition.

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