Joint Dislocation in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Joint Dislocation in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Joint Dislocation in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Joint Dislocation?

A joint dislocation, or joint luxation, is a condition where the ends of your dog’s bones move out of their usual positions and separate. This can occur with any joint, typically following some form of trauma. If your dog suddenly exhibits lameness, or if you detect swelling around a joint, schedule a veterinarian consultation immediately. A dislocated joint must be treated as soon as possible to prevent aggravation and more severe damage.

When the ligaments that hold a joint in place break, the two bones may separate, resulting in a joint dislocation or luxation. The joint will need to be returned to its original position and held in place so the surrounding casing can heal. The earlier the injury is treated, the better the prognosis.
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Joint Dislocation Average Cost

From 37 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,100

Symptoms of Joint Dislocation in Dogs

Signs vary depending on the location of the joint dislocation. Typically, dogs will exhibit lameness in the affected limb, which may progress over time. Your dog may be reluctant to walk because of pain, and you may see swelling around the joint. Other signs specific to a certain joint include:

  • Ankle — Foot hanging loose or moving in unusual directions
  • Elbow — Elbow carried flexed
  • Hip — Shortening of limb
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Causes of Joint Dislocation in Dogs

A dislocation occurs when a joint separates from the socket and is usually caused by trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. Joints are held in place with thick ligaments, which may break when subjected to severe trauma. Though dogs of any breed may suffer a dislocation, some are genetically predisposed to conditions that may lead to luxation. An example of such a condition is hip dysplasia in German shepherds. 

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Diagnosis of Joint Dislocation in Dogs

A physical examination and radiographs are the common tools for diagnosing a dislocated joint. If your dog is limping and unwilling to put weight on the affected limb, the veterinarian will request some information from you, such as the duration of signs and if your dog has been in a recent accident. Most cases of joint luxation present with a history of trauma or intense activity. The veterinarian may be able to tell the extent of the dislocation through a physical examination, though a radiograph is the most reliable method for inspecting a joint luxation and can reveal any fractures around the dislocated joint.

Though laboratory testing is not necessary for diagnosis, the veterinarian may recommend blood work or a urinalysis to determine your dog’s ability to withstand anesthesia as part of treatment.

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Treatment of Joint Dislocation in Dogs

There are two methods of treatment for a luxated joint.

Closed Reduction

In certain cases, the joint can be returned to its original location through closed reduction, which does not require surgically opening the area around the joint. This is a non-invasive procedure but requires general anesthesia to relax the muscles. Following reduction, a radiograph confirms that the joint is in the correct position.

Surgery

If the ligaments surrounding the joint are too damaged, surgery may be required to repair the joint. The veterinarian may be able to sew the joint capsule back together in order to support the joint once it has been manipulated back to its original position. Depending on the extent of the damage, screws, pins, or washers may be used to replicate the torn ligaments and to hold the joint in place.

In both closed and open reduction, the limb will be held in position with a bandage or wrap following treatment, which provides support to the joint while the surrounding joint capsule heals. 

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Worried about the cost of Joint Dislocation treatment?

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Recovery of Joint Dislocation in Dogs

Limit your dog’s activity following reduction. The sling or splint will need to remain in place for one to two weeks while the joint capsule heals, and you will need to visit your veterinarian for a follow-up examination prior to its removal to ensure that the joint is still in position. Keep the supportive bandage clean and dry during this time, and monitor your dog for signs of discomfort or swelling.

After the supportive devices have been removed, your dog will most likely remain reluctant to place weight on the affected limb. Continue to restrict your dog’s physical activity for several weeks to avoid placing additional trauma on the joint. Make sure that your dog has access to fresh food and clean water during the healing process, and provide a safe, quiet place where he or she can recover comfortably.

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Joint Dislocation Average Cost

From 37 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,100

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Joint Dislocation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Yorkie

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Three Years

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12 found helpful

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12 found helpful

Has Symptoms

N/A

Max is my housemates dog who is almost never present. I tend to step in where I can when caring for max. This evening, Max’s front left leg seemed to pop out of its socket for a moment. It might have rolled while playing fast with this beat up rubber hippo 1/2 his size. He is a small dog. He yelped in pain. He kept running, stepping on the toy again and it popped back in I believe. What do I do? The owner doesn’t let me do much with max. He isn’t terrible but he has no business owning a dog when he is never home. Myself and the 3 other housemates step in when possible. (He can jump vry high!)

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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12 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he seems to be moving around well, it may be fine to monitor him and have him seen if he continues to have a problem. If you are concerned, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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Eleven Weeks

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Sore Paw

Not using her paw. I think i feel a separation in her shoulder

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 22, 2020

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Joint Dislocation Average Cost

From 37 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,100

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