Treatments for sudden hip dislocation in dogs

Updated July 20, 2017

Sudden hip dislocation in dogs can occur at any time during a dog's life. Fortunately hip dislocation or hip luxation is not usually serious and is easily treatable with a number of methods. Veterinarians provide both surgical and non-surgical treatments for dogs suffering from hip dislocation and can help in deciding which treatment is best.

Closed reduction

The vet can treat many dogs with a non-surgical procedure known as closed reduction. He puts the dog under anaesthesia and moves the dog's leg around in order to pop the femoral head back into the socket. Radiographs taken after the procedure ensure that the closed reduction worked properly. After the treatment, the vet places a sling called an "Ehmer" on the dog for one to two weeks to keep the femoral head in place as it heals. While closed reduction is the easiest option for hip dislocation, it can sometimes be unsuccessful and difficult to achieve, especially with larger breeds.

Femoral head ostectomy

The most common and basic surgical procedure for hip dislocation in dogs is the femoral head ostectomy or FHO. The surgery consists of removing the entire head (ball) of the femur, leaving the remaining part of the femur to form a false joint. The process allows for the false joint to heal with the ligaments, muscles, and tendons rather than any actual bone-to-bone contact. Femoral head ostectomy reduces the pain of hip dislocation significantly and is typically more successful with smaller dogs under 22.7 kg (50 lbs). The dog will not be able to use its leg for two weeks and only partially after four to six weeks but will return to almost normal function after a couple of months.

Triple pelvic osteotomy

Triple pelvic osteotomy or TPO is a surgical procedure used only on large breed dogs under 10 months old with mild hip dislocation and no other signs of arthritis. The surgery involves cutting the pelvis and rotating it to provide the femoral head a tighter fit in the socket. The veterinary surgeon cuts the dog's pelvis in three places to help in accurately rotating the hips. After the hip rotation to fix the hip dislocation, she stabilises the pelvis with metal bone plates.

Total hip replacement

The most complicated surgery for hip dislocation is total hip replacement or THR. The surgery consists of replacing both the head and neck of the femur with stainless steel or titanium implants. The metal implants replace the ball and socket joint and stay fully functional for the dog for several years. Total hip replacement is most often used on adult dogs weighing at least 18.1kg (40 lbs). but is also done on young dogs that have developed most of their skeletal growth. Having secondary arthritis in addition to hip dislocation is also a reason for total hip replacement procedure, unlike triple pelvic osteotomy. Total hip replacement treatment is very effective with a high success rate but it does have post operative complications that can be problematic.Therefore only specialised veterinary surgeons do the procedure.

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About the Author

Based in San Diego, Cate De Leon began writing in 2009. She writes mainly about travel, relationships and pets, and her articles have been published on numerous websites, including Moviefone and ibeverageblogs. De Leon is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at San Diego State University.