What Is It?

In simple terms, it means having a dislocated hip. Medically speaking, it is referred to as a coxofemoral luxation because the ball-and-socket joint formed by the pelvis and the femur’s head is called the coxofemoral joint. The hip joint is held together by a strong round ligament and the joint capsule and is stabilized by the surrounding muscles. It results in the displacement of the head of the femur (the “ball”) from the acetabulum (the “socket”). For the luxation to occur, the round ligament and the joint capsule must have been torn completely, which allows the femur to become dislocated. With these injuries, damage to the muscles of the hip often occurs as well.
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Who Gets It?

It can occur in any age, breed, or gender of dog, and can occur in cats as well. It occurs more commonly in dogs that are older than one year; in immature developing dogs, a fracture of the femoral head is more common.
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What Are The Signs?

The primary sign is a severe, acute, non-weight-bearing lameness. There are several types, and depending on which one is present, the animal will exhibit different signs. The most common type is one in which the femur is pulled upwards. This is called a craniodorsal luxation and occurs in about 75% of affected dogs and cats. In a craniodorsal luxation, the limb will appear shorter than the unaffected side. The paw is positioned underneath the body, and the stifle (knee) is rotated externally. The other type, more commonly seen, is a caudoventral luxation. In this case, the femur’s head ends up under the pelvis, in an opening called the obturator foramen. This results in the limb being held away from the body (abduction) and the stifle being internally rotated.
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How Is It Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian can usually diagnose it based on clinical signs and a physical exam. However, radiographs must be taken to rule out other conditions such as fractures of the femur’s acetabulum. Additionally, because they are usually associated with trauma, half of these patients have another major injury. Therefore, a thorough physical exam and the identification of concurrent trauma is essential.
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Why Did This Happen To My Dog?

Most dogs with this have sustained trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident. In some cases, the luxation can happen with minor trauma, such as falling down a couple of stairs. Dogs that have luxations that occur due to minor trauma must be evaluated for an underlying cause of hip instability associated with hip dysplasia.
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How Is It Treated?

It must be treated as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the soft tissue surrounding the cartilage’s joint and degeneration. The veterinarian will first attempt to replace the femoral head into the acetabulum manually from the outside. This is called a closed reduction, and it is performed under general anesthesia. The leg is then placed in a special sling for 10-14 days, and the dog must be kept confined to a cage. This allows the joint time to heal and re-stabilize without the risk of it re-luxating. If closed reduction is not sufficient to correct the problem, surgery is required. Surgical correction involved reducing the femoral head into the acetabulum and securing the joint with artificial ligaments. In severe cases where neither open nor closed reductions are options, the patient may have to undergo either a Total Hip Replacement (THR) or a Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO).
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Can It Be Prevented?

Since it results from trauma, there are no definitive ways to prevent the injury from happening.
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What Is The Prognosis For My Dog?

The success rate of closed reduction is about 50%, while the success rate of open reduction is 85% to 90%. If a hip stays reduced for 3 weeks, the prognosis is excellent for a continued reduction unless another trauma occurs or underlying hip laxity (dysplasia). Persistent lameness is seen in about 30 to 35% of cases due to arthritis developed in the joint. It is also possible that there are underlying issues such as hip dysplasia or major damage to the joint’s cartilage from the initial injury.
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