Hip injuries can cause your dog a lot of pain unless you get veterinarian attention quickly. Many hip injuries heal with a few weeks of rest, but others need surgery to prevent long-term complications or severe arthritis from developing.
The most common dog hip injury is coxofemoral hip luxation, also known as hip dislocation. This happens when the head of the femur, which is a ball at the end of the thigh bone, ruptures or pulls away from the ligaments attaching it in the socket of the pelvis. This can happen to dogs of any breed, size and age as a result of trauma, and will cause the dog to limp. You may also hear a crackling noise at the joint or notice the leg being very loose and floppy. Treatment includes replacing the femur in the joint and restricting movement until it heals, or surgical repairs.
Unilateral hip dysplasia happens mostly to large and giant breeds of dogs, and can be hereditary or caused by insufficient free running during the dog’s puppyhood. Dogs that live in apartments or are confined to their crates for many hours a day don’t have the chance to develop strong bones, resulting in shallow hip sockets and improperly formed hip joints. The loose joint results in injury to the ligament and painful wear and tear on the joint.
Muscle tears happen when the dog sprains or strains her hip muscles or tendons by stretching them further than their normal length. The pain of the injury causes the dog to limp, and the hip may be swollen and warm with muscle spasms. The veterinarian will recommend hot or cold compresses, massage and possibly acupuncture to relieve the pain and spasms, increase circulation and promote healing.
The dog’s hip can be fractured or broken at either the femur or the pelvis if the dog is hit by a car, a hard object, or falls from a height. Hip fractures are often allowed to heal by themselves; your veterinarian will likely recommend cage rest or restricting the dog’s activity. Some hip injuries, such as sacroiliac fractures, can cause neurological damage unless they are surgically repaired immediately, or they result in painful long term suffering for the dog.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.