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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

Symptoms 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 symptoms 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. Dogs under one year of age are less likely to experience a dislocation, as the immature bone is prone to fracturing instead.

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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 symptoms 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. CTs and MRIs may be used as well.

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. The prognosis for a joint dislocation is typically good.

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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Chihuahua

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12 Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

my dog has been limping for a couple days. i think maybe he dislocated his leg because it doesn’t seem to be crying. ive checked to see if there was possibly anything in his paws that could be poking him and found nothing. when looking at his shoulders they look pretty different. one obviously feels stronger than the other. I would add photos but he is sleeping.

today

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello if his leg is dislocated he would need to see your vet. They can take x rays to see if it is dislocated and possibly even pop the leg back into place.

today

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Yorkie

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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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2 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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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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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Pugwala

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Can'T Walk Or Out Weight On His Back Right Paw

I need help my dog can't walk

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. I hope that your pet is feeling better. Dogs can develop arthritis as they age, and she may need medication to help. If they are still having problems, 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. 23, 2020

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Corgi Cattle Dog

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Two Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hurt Leg

She was accidentally stepped on on back hip and won’t use her back right leg. She does cry to the touch or for head to toe rotation but cries if leg is moved outwardly

Sept. 24, 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. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, 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. 23, 2020

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Mia

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Pitbull mix

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Hello, my 9-month-old pitbull mix got hit by a car a couple of nights ago and we took her to the vet and found out she has a hairline fracture on the right side shoulder area and a dislocated elbow. They offered to amputate or do surgery to put pins on there. I am not amputating and can't afford the surgery. My question is if we put a cast or leg brace will her elbow go back in place properly? Is it even recommended? I really don't have too many options that I can afford. She is showing signs already of healing by going outside to use the bathroom, eating, drinking, and she evens sleeps on the side of her injury without crying as she did the first night. I'm thinking she should recover pretty well. I rather her have all 4 legs with a slight limp versus no leg at all. Can you please advise if either a cast or brace would be recommended?

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Memphis

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Springerdoodle

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4 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Our 4 week old puppy's front right leg is not being used much since Friday (1 1/2 days ago). He whimpers and cries, but is using it a little bit now, which is better than when we first noticed the injury Friday night. We think he caught his leg in something and pulled too hard to get it out. Should we take him in? There is no swelling, but it seems the pain is coming from the shoulder area. Like I said, he's using it a bit more each day. We want to do the right thing for him. Regular vet opens tomorrow at 9:00 am

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YumYum

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papipoo

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10

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Limping

My small 8lbs dog was run over by my giant 90lbs dog. Blu (cane corso) stepped on YumYum (papipoo) and now her ankle (small bones part) is dislocated. I took her to the only veterinarian that was opened and they are suggesting amputation of the leg. I am taking her to another vet for a second opinion. And while finances are tight, I don't know if amputation is the right call. Has anyone else had this experience. Their explanation for amputation was that her bones are to small to put back in place and that with her age it probably still would not heal right.

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Bud

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German Shepherd

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Lameness
Dislocation
Dysplasia

Hi there. I would really like some input here. My dog has hip dysphasia and is currently 7 year old GSD. He had his hip replacement 4 weeks ago and unfortunately overnight at the hospital he dislocated it. Surgical reduction was carried out and was found that he shredded his gluteus muscle. Everything was repaired to vets best ability and an ehmar sling was placed for 10 days. For first 2 weeks he was admitted to a hospital and kept under observation. He lost a lot of muscle mass during this phase and will not place his leg on the ground (non weight bearing). When I picked him up after two weeks post surgery, it was decided to take him for rehab. After examination with the rehab expert, it was decided to admit him at the rehab clinic for 5 to 6 weeks. During this period, he would undergo ultrasonic treatment, laser therapy, electro acupuncture, swim and various physical exercise. After first week of therapy, there some minor changes. Second week he was placed in a toe up sling to stop scoffing on his paw and to get his foot in right position. Today I visited him after 2 weeks of rehab and 4 weeks post surgery. He seems to be placing his foot correctly while standing still but still not weight baring. He still drags his foot while walking and for me it is very painful to watch. At this stage plan is to continue with with his rehab until he is weight bearing. Once that happened he will start with hydrotherapy. My observation: When lying down he is moving his leg and stretches it. When touch in area where he has scoffed his paw, he will retract his foot back indicating some sensation. This is hard to explain but I will try. His leg seems to be rotated inwards like his knee is pointing inwards and I can feel resistance when I try to move it outwards. He is otherwise very happy and friendly. Loves licking and food. My biggest concern is is there some nerve damage? Or is it just because of the ehmar sling he is sort of constricted in that position. Could it be possible that the muscle attachment has not happened. How long before he will be weight bearing? Like I understand no one can give an exact answer but just from your experience, how long does it usually takes, 3/4/5 weeks? Also any suggestion on how the hip would have dislocated in the first place specially when he was under observation in a cage? My understanding is that his leg has to be in full extension like when running or lateral like when his back legs slip out side ways? Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

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Phoenix

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Lab retriever mix

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Dislocated Hip

My 1 year old dog dislocated her hip and we took her into the bet he said he could try and pop it back into place which he did but when we took her back after 2 weeks they said it's popped back out and he wants to do surgery I wanted a second opinion he won't try to pop back in again he wants to take part of ball in her hip off and put in back it and says she will have limp and one leg will be longer than the other she's only one and just didn't want to jump straight into cutting her up I feel so bad for her she's home today and surgery is scheduled for next week but I've been calling around trying find a 2nd opinion.

Joint Dislocation Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,100

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