Can a Dog Live With a Dislocated Hip?

Dislocated joints are painful and awkward but they aren’t the end of the world. Although they will require medical attention, it’s unlikely that surgery will be necessary.

But, unfortunately, that is a possibility. So if you suspect that your dog has a dislocated hip, it’s important that you get them seen as soon as possible.

If you’re concerned about costs and are wondering if your dog can cope with a dislocated hip and not need a visit to the vet, then the answer is absolutely not. Dislocated joints are usually pretty simple fixes.

Can a Dog Live with a Dislocated Hip

But your dog really cannot go on without treatment. It would be unfair, cruel, and very painful for your dog. If the injury isn’t seen, then your dog’s condition will only become worse. This will only cost you more in the long run. 

So it’s important that you seek medical attention for your dog as soon as possible. They won’t be too badly hurt or in too much pain. But they will be if they are left without attention.

What is Dislocation?

If you’re a little confused about whether or not your dog has actually dislocated their hip, then that’s understandable. It can be difficult to tell if you have dislocated one of your own joints, let alone discern whether your poor dog (who obviously cannot tell you what’s wrong) has.

Dislocation is when a bone comes out of its socket. So, a dislocated hip is when your dog’s leg bone comes out of its hip socket. The medical term for this condition is hip dysplasia.

Hip joints (in both humans and dogs) are ball and socket joints. The end of the leg bone is curved like a ball and fits neatly into the hip socket. Then, when your dog (or you) moves their leg, the ball rotates within the socket. 

If you weren’t sure before, you should now understand how uncomfortable and painful this can be. You can now also see just how important it is for your dog to be treated when their hip joint has dislocated.

Not only will they be in pain but they simply cannot function properly. They won’t be able to put weight on the injured leg. So they won’t be able to move around or run as they normally would.

How is Dislocation Treated?

Now you know how painful and difficult hip dysplasia can be for your dog, you will surely want to know how it can be fixed. There are two different ways to treat a dislocated hip. These are closed reduction and open reduction. 

Closed reduction involves a veterinarian maneuvering the bone back into the socket. This is a non-surgical procedure but your dog will still be put under anesthetic. This is because it can be a painful process.

Your dog will also likely be confused and not understand what is happening. This could make them agitated and the leg muscles need to be relaxed for this process to work. So anesthetic will be necessary to allow the vet to properly care for your dog. 

Whenever a dislocated joint (usually a shoulder) is shown on TV, the person seems to be immediately better and not require anything else. This isn’t the case for humans or for dogs.

Once your dog’s hip has been treated, their leg will need to be placed in a sling. This is to provide them with support as their hip will still be sore and weak. 

This is called an Ehmer sling and stops your dog placing weight on their leg. This will make movement a little difficult for a while. But it will be better than if the injury were left alone. 

The chance of reinjury after a closed reduction is about 50%. 

An open reduction is a surgical procedure. There are several ways that your vet might surgically correct a dislocated hip and you will need to seek professional advice for the correct procedure for your dog. But the primary goal will be to place the joint back together. 

Other interventions may be needed and they depend upon the severity of the injury, the age of your dog, and your dog’s overall health. In some cases, a hip replacement might even be the best option. But don’t worry, your vet shouldn’t choose surgery unless it is necessary.

The chance of reinjury after an open reduction is less than a closed reduction. But an operation will be avoided unless absolutely necessary. 

Causes of Dislocated Hips

One of the main causes of a dislocated hip can be an accident. It’s a common injury when a dog has been, for example, hit by a car. But these are rare situations and cannot be foreseen.

If your dog has a dislocated hip and you are sure it hasn’t been caused by an accident, it could be a health problem. It could also be a result of inbreeding. As you probably know, purebred dogs often have physical problems due to the way that they are bred.

A dislocated hip could be caused by your dog’s general physicality. Hip dysplasia often occurs in large dogs as they can’t always support their own weight. 

The best way to stop your dog from experiencing any kind of dislocation is to keep them at a healthy weight. They should also be well-exercised so that the joints can remain strong. 


So, now you know just how painful and uncomfortable a dislocated hip can be for your dog, it’s a good idea to know what symptoms to look out for. Here are just some of the main symptoms of a dislocated hip:

  1. Lameness in hind leg(s)/not putting weight on hind leg(s)
  2. Reduction in thigh muscle
  3. Stiffness in leg
  4. Decreased activity
  5. Increased foreleg muscles due dog putting more weight on them

These all might seem pretty obvious but it’s important to remember them. But, generally, if your dog has dislocated their hip, they will be in pain so they’re going to let you know about it. 

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