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April 21, 2008


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Vicki McPhee

Unfortunately my sister has been unemployed for over 2 years and loosing her home. Her girls (her 2 dogs are her children). One jumped on the bed and popped her hip out of place an she has no money to get it fixed. Any suggestions?


Hello, Vicki,

Replacing a dislocated hip is rather difficult, even when it's fresh, and the dog is anesthetized. It's something you are unlikely to be able to accomplish with home remedies.

The only thing that I can suggest is to try to control the animal's pain. In the initial 24 to 48 hours, you would use a cold compress to limit swelling. After that, warm compresses help keep the muscles relaxed.

I cannot really prescribe medicine for animals I have not seen.
Over-the-counter pain medications have drawbacks for long-term use.

However, most dogs can tolerate one regular-strength aspirin or one regular-strength tylenol for forty pounds of body weight. A ten-pound dog would take 1/4 tablet. Using this dose two to three times daily for a week or less should be safe for most dogs.

Ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are not considered safe for use in dogs.

I am sorry that I cannot give you a simple answer. In time, the dog's pain will subside. It may or may not form a false joint and use the leg. It may just wind up carrying the leg, but being relatively free from pain.

Good luck.

Sissy's Mama

My dogs hip was dislocated for about 9 days before we had realized what was wrong with her. She is a 4 year old, 50 pound, bull dog who loves to hog hunt and was bit by a hog on her back leg, we thought she was just sore. I immediately took her to the vet, after I realized what was wrong with her, and he did the procedure to "pop" it back into place. She's on rest for 10 days and then she'll be checked again. We live in a small town where there's not much of a choice in vets, and I was told there's a 50% chance her hip will come out again. Do you think it is likely it will come out again? We have already decided to "retire" her from hunting.


Hello, Sissy's Mom,

The reason that your veterinarian gave you the 50/50 thing is because the hip stayed out so long. The supporting structures really got stretched, and a lot of gunk filled in the socket. The longer she waits before putting pressure on it, the more likely that things will tighten up and it will stay in.

If it doesn't stay in, it might eventually form a "false joint", where the ball of the femoral head finds a spot in the muscles that doesn't hurt much. The muscles and tendons will support the dog's weight, even though the hip isn't in the socket.

On the other hand, you could get a bone-on-bone situation, and that is painful. The dog would probably not bear much weight on the leg in that situation.

It is possible to do an orthopedic surgery, using pins and wires and so forth to hold the hip in place. That takes a pretty good bone surgeon, and it wouldn't be cheap.

Another alternative (though it's not as good for big dogs as small ones) is to amputate the ball part of the femoral head. That gets rid of the bone-on-bone rub (source of pain), and most dogs get around pretty well with just the muscle and tendon attachment to the rest of the leg.

I hope this helps you with your questions.

Good luck.

Minky's sis

hi, I just recently adopted a dog. She is an 8 year old Volpino Italiano, she is very small. She was running, slipped and fell. She (i believe) dislocated her left hip. I will not be gettin paid until the weekend. I have given her some pain meds. but I don't think that I will have enough money to afford her vet bills. and suggestions on what to do..with out having to try and "pop" her hip on place?



Over the counter pain meds are a little risky in dogs. For short term use, they can tolerate one baby aspirin per 10 pounds of body weight, or one children's tylenol per 10 pounds body weight, two to three times daily.

Ibuprofen and Aleve (naproxen) can cause bleeding ulcers.

Hip dislocations are very unusual unless there is some pretty heavy force trauma (rather than just slipping and falling). If this were actually the case, there's no way you could replace it without general anesthesia.

That type of sudden onset lameness occurs more often when you damage a ligament in the knee joint.

If you can determine a painful area, cold compresses (ice water, not ice) applied for 20 minutes,three times a day, can help to reduce swelling and discomfort. Cold should be applied in the first 48 hours.

After that, heat applied for 20 minutes three times a day helps improve circulation in the area and speed healing.

If something is torn, broken or dislocated, there's no substitute for surgery, unfortunately.

bianca king

hi i have a toy poodle, 4 years old. he's hyper active and likes to dart around when he's excited. i came home yesterday at midnight to him limping and crying. our nanny said he had been like that for about 6 hours already (since the later afternoon). i rushed him to the vet. his hip was dislocated and i had to go back this morning so the senior surgeon can perform closed reduction about 20 hours after the supposed accident no one saw.

the vet said it'll pop back in but if it falls out with a small push, we have to operate. it fell out a few times and i said no to surgery because i believed my dog is an extraordinarily healthy dog who can heal organically with some vitamins and bed rest. he said we wait a week and if it still falls out, i have no choice but to do the surgery.

after reading a bunch of articles, i learned that if u wait, it can form a false joint that may cause dog to never walk normally again. plus surgery is a quick fix that will heal in 2 weeks as opposed to monitoring a closed reduction every week for 6 weeks then finding out that its still not holding together.

i dont know if my decision was smart but i just didnt want to cut my dog open right away. if it turns out im doing him more harm by waiting, im open to the surgery. i just need more professional opinions. and i cant bare to see my dog depressed.


Hello, Bianca,

There is always the potential for complications with any surgical procedure. Nobody can guarantee success.

However, your dog is more likely to return to normal function and have less pain (in the long run), if he does have the surgery.

Without the surgery, he will probably walk, but it will never be right.

If you are uncertain about your veterinarian's recommendation, ask for a referral to an orthopedic specialist for a second opinion.

Reading stuff on the internet gives you a lot of information, but sometimes the information is not correct. In any case, it's no substitute for a hands-on examination of the patient.

Good luck.


I own a 10 year old chocolate lab. My son was throwing a toy for her in the house when she all of a sudden layed down. She had no whimper or yelp. She allows me to touch her but she will not put any pressure on her back left leg. I am unable to do anything until this weekend. I am curious about a popping sounds her leg makes when she somewhat bends it at the knee. I see no swelling on her leg or hip. What else should I look for? She appears to be in no pain trying to walk around and wagging her tail as always just not walking on leg.


It's always difficult to make a diagnosis without seeing the animal.

I would guess from your description that the most likely diagnosis would be damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee joint. This usually requires surgical repair to restore the dog's leg to normal use.

Do NOT give Ibuprofen or Aleve or any other human-type pain reliever without consulting your veterinarian, as dogs can suffer severe side-effects from them (such as bleeding ulcers in the stomach, and kidney damage).

Your best bet is to get the dog to her doctor as soon as you can.

Good luck.


Hi there,

my 13 year old Golden Retriever was hit by a car tow days ago. I put her into my car and rushed her to the verts. Luckily she "just" dislocated her hip and nothing was broken.

The next day they narcotized her and relocated her hip. Now her leg is in a sling.

The doctor said that her hips lock great (despite her age and race) and that in general there is a 50% chance that she will do fine without surgery.

I am scarded that the hip will pop out again. My dog is old and she has arthrosis in her forelegs, and I'm not sure she could that the surgery and the weeks and months of recovery and physio therapy.

At the moment she seems absolutely fine, she even started to roll around in the garden (what she loves to do), but I'm not sure if this "rolling around" could damage the healing process of my dog?

Is there really just a 50'% chance?


Hello, Ana,

I believe that your veterinarian is trying to be conservative in the prognosis. The odds are likely better than 50/50, but there is certainly a possibility that the hip won't stay in. You have to be prepared for that.

Watch out for any rubbing or chafing with the sling.

As long as the leg/sling doesn't get caught on something, the rolling shouldn't cause problems.

We just need to keep weight off the leg while those stretched-out tendons, muscles and ligaments heal and tighten up again.

Good luck.


I got a lab from a rescue just after thanksgiving. He had been hit by a car in sept. and had an fho surgery on Oct. 5. When we got him it was almost 2 months after his surgery. I have not seen much improvement in his leg since then. Today it seems much worse than usual. How long will his recovery take and should I be concerned that there has not been more improvement?


Hello, Alison,

I would expect the dog to be much improved by this time. Certainly, with the loss of the femoral head we could expect some difficulties from time to time. Really, though, I would expect him to be a lot better now.

If he just needed occasional anti-inflammatory medicine (like Rimadyl), I think that would be about par for the course. If he is just having trouble all the time, then I would ask your veterinarian to evaluate the situation.

There may be some complication in healing, or there may even be another problem that needs to be addressed.

I think it's time for a recheck exam with your veterinarian.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Hi. I own a 3yr old male Chihauhau. He was hit by a car 2 days ago and now I believe his hip is dislocated. He is not eating now as well. I cannot afford to take him to the vet, so what do you recommend?


Hello, Gwen,

If nothing else, I suspect that the dog needs something for pain. I cannot prescribe for him long distance, unfortunately.

I am concerned that he may have other injuries besides the obvious lameness.

I understand that money can be tight, but he really needs to get looked at by a doctor.

Best wishes.


Hello Dr,

Three weeks ago my 13 lb dog was hit by a car and ended up with a dislocated hind leg. We immediately took her to the vet, x rays were taken, and he performed the closed reduction on her. Unfortunately the joint popped back out not too long after. Since last week my dog started putting more and more weight onto her dislocated leg. She is actually walking normally on it but holds the leg up when running, she is almost back to her old active self. Could this mean she has started to form a false joint and her pain is subsiding? Im trying to decide if I should put her through painful (not to mention expensive!) surgery that will result in a long period of rehab or leave her in the current condition.


Hello, Nina,

A small dog like this often does form a false joint and return to normal function.

You should really discuss this with your veterinarian, as he/she is much more familiar with your dog's situation.

Good luck.


My mom's dog was hit by a car a few days ago and when brought to the vet she found out that the dog's hip was dislocated. At the time the vet put the joint back into place, but said if it popped out again that FHO surgery was recommended. Well her hip has popped out again and FHO surgery just seems so hit or miss I am hoping to hear there may be other options. The dog is lab around 75lbs. and from what I have been reading is the surgery is less successful on breeds over 50lbs. The dog is close to 3 years old and typically very active with running, jumping and swimming. Hoping to get another opinion on this situation.


Hello, Nicole,

Your veterinarian is probably better able to assess the situation than anyone else who has not seen your dog.

Other options include surgical repair of the dislocation, or even a total hip replacement.

You are correct in saying that larger dogs do not have as good a result from FHO as smaller dogs. However, I have seen some large dogs do pretty well with it.

You might ask your veterinarian for referral to an orthopedic specialist for a second opinion. The specialist will need to see the dog and the X-rays, though.

Good Luck.


Driving home after walking my dog, the car in front of me hit a stray puppy. I took it to the vet that day. After x-rays, and a huge vet bill, I found out she had a dislocated hip, and a slight fracture in her pelvis. After 4 weeks she is off the sling and still holding her leg up.
She is unable to completely stretch out her leg. She can't stretch out her elbow. Why is this? How can i get her on four legs so she is more adoptable? I do not have a swimming pool rehabilitate her.


Hello, Richard,

You really need to call the veterinarian about this. They may recommend some mild physical therapy, like gently flexing and stretching the affected legs.

I really cannot recommend treatment for a dog I haven't seen.

Ask them about supporting her with a big towel like a sling so that she can start using her legs a little.

Good luck.


I've read every question and answer, but none of them are directly related to mine. I have taken in a stray dog (she appears to be a rat terrier mix, maybe a bit of dachshund). She weighs about 20 lbs. She is quite old, by the looks of her teeth and the amount of sleeping she does.

I believe she had her back right hip dislocated at some point as it just doesn't look "right." It seems to stick out to the side more than the other back hip, and she walks funny. Not necessarily a limp, but just not right. However, I have rubbed/touched it (none too gently at times) to try to feel her out for any pain. She never indicates she's in pain. She eats/drinks/potties normally. She rolls around on the bed, in the yard, etc.

Reading the other answers in this thread makes me think perhaps she formed a false joint. I just moved into a new house, just graduated college, etc. In other words, I am not in possession of large sums of money for surgery. Do you think it may be fine to leave her as she is? It could have been years ago that this happened to her, who knows.


Hello, Heather,
It does sound to me as though the dog has formed a false joint. If she gets around fine and seems free of pain, then I don't know that anything needs to be done. An X-ray would tell the tale.
My only concern is that perhaps there is some other type of mass in the area making the hip "look funny", such as a tumor that needs to be dealt with.
If you see the area growing, changing, etc., then I would definitely get it looked at.
Good luck.

Pam Holloway

Thanks Doc for all your help. I'm in a similar boat with 11 year old Jack Russell. Dislocated his hip and had it put back in place and in a sling for a couple of weeks. Once out, he slowly started to put some weight on it, but not consistently. Some days he seems better, other days not using it at all. I am trying to avoid more xrays and trips to the vet if he's not in pain, but I don't want to screw anything up by ignoring the limp. Is it normal to still be limping after 4 or 5 weeks? If it is back out, assume my only choice is expensive surgery? He seems to be his same energetic and happy self on 3 legs. :-)


I would hope that after four or five weeks the dog would be returning to normal function. If he is not, then it's pretty hard to tell whether he is just suffering the after-effects or the hip is actually out of place again.
At this late date, just replacing the ball in the socket would not be helpful.
If it is out of socket again, and the dog cannot use the leg, then I'm afraid that surgery is your only avenue.


Hey Doc,

My wife and I took our 3 year old treeing walker coonhound (she is about 90lbs)to the park near our house for some exercise. A friend was there with two of his dogs, one of which is a puppy (~30lb yellow lab mix). My dog's leg accidentally got tangled up with the puppy's leg while playing, and the puppy started yelping and couldn't put any weight on her back leg. After ~30minutes, the dog was able to walk home but was still limping pretty good. Think it could be a hip dislocation, or more likely just a bruise? Thanks!


It usually takes a very heavy trauma to dislocate a hip, but sometimes you hit it "just right" like cutting a diamond. It is unlikely that the dog would be bearing any weight on the leg at all immediately after a hip dislocation.
You could certainly have bruising or strain or sprain (stretching and damaging of ligaments and muscle).
If the dog is not much improved in 24 hours, you should get the hip X-rayed.
Good luck.


I have a 6 yr old Queensland Heeler whom unfortunately decided to leap off of the side of my truck (While we were unloading hay)... she landed on a bale below her and Dislocated her hip. This all happened Tuesday night, We live in a small town and i took her to the nearby vet right away Wednesday morning. After charging me a huge vet bill and not getting to her for over 24 hours (didn't pick her up till Thursday), he said "i don't do orthopedics, but i think it'll be fine, just keep her activity to a minimum." She is only 30 pounds (small for a heeler), and he sent her home with Tramadol 50Mg, and Rimadyl 75mg. He never taped or bandaged her leg, and actually had her limping around the clinic when I got there. Now I've noticed after a lot of research that she should have probably had a Ehmer sling, or something to help stabilize the leg. Is it too late to take her to a different vet, to stabilize the leg, or do a closed reduction? I dont think i can get her in until Tuesday, which makes it 7 days from the time of injury, and 5 days from the original "attempt" my other vet to do a closed reduction. (which upon viewing the x-ray the hip was still a sub-luxation). This dog has good hips on her, and no displacia. She is still not bearing any weight on the leg, which in one way is good, but will lay on it, and use it to get up which worries me that it will dislocate again. Would love your advice on this before i make the 2 hr drive to a different vet office.


Hello, April,

The use of the Ehmer sling has become controversial. If improperly applied, it can create problems of its own. Many orthopedists prefer to simply restrict the dog's activity by crating it instead.

If the hip has been out of the socket for a week, closed reduction is unlikely to be successful at this point. The structures are stretched, and the socket is full of junk.

A small dog may eventually form a "false joint" and use the limb, but it would certainly be preferable to have it back in the socket. At this point, it will probably require an orthopedic surgery to get the hip to stay in place.

Long term results will be best if you consult a veterinarian who does a lot of orthopedic work.

Best wishes.


My puppy hdislocated her hip and its been about a week and a half we realized. the vet thought it was growing pains because she is a german shepherd. we x-rayed her and found out it was dislocated. i do not have enough money for surgery. i was wondering if i leave it as is, will the pain eventually go away and she will just be carrying her leg?

if i give her to the adoption shelter, since they have a hospital they are connected to to get their dogs fixed before adoption, will they give my puppy surgery if i give my puppy away?


Hello, John,
You ask questions that are difficult for me to answer. With a small dog, she might very well develop a "false joint", where the hip is supported by muscle attachment alone. In a large breed dog, this is less likely to provide a serviceable limb. I would expect arthritis problems and pain and lameness.

A good orthopedic specialist could tell you more after looking at your dog and your X-rays.

As to what the shelter would do, you would just have to ask them. Most have limited resources, and their hospital facilities are directed toward doing the most good for the greatest number of dogs. I do not know whether they would have the resources available to allocate to a major surgery. You would just have to ask them.

Best wishes.


With a dislocated hip, will it make a "popping" noise as the dog ambulates? I also feel asymmetry between the right and left hips. On the right side, she favors the leg, the femoral head(??) is felt on palpation and there is the associated popping.

She has a history of some mild hip dysplasia and mild arthritic changes in the hips (as of her last x-rays about 2 months ago). She is a 9 year old lab-mix. ACL repair one year ago, same leg.

I am trying to decide between taking her in now to the emergency vet, or wait until Monday morning when her normal vet will be available.


Hello, J.D.,

You certainly describe what sounds like a dislocated hip.

Sometimes you can't tell without a good X-ray.

If it just happened, I'd want it looked at as soon as possible. That would give a much better chance of being able to do closed reduction and have the hip stay in place.

Good luck.


Hi Doc.

So my first child, a 14 yr old lab mix, decided to go head first down a steep slope to reach the river when her rear leg tangled in tree roots and dislocated the joint. The vet briefly went over the x-ray and heavily pushed for surgery, removal of part of the femur to build a false joint. He said that 80-90% of joints would pop out of place if that were the remedy. His numbers seem a bit steeper than what I've read. And his bedside manner wasn't great.

I guess I'm wondering what you would do. My hound-dog has become more sedentary this year and I would like to believe that if popped back into place and put in a sling, we could get that old joint to build it's own muscles back...without losing half the femur knob.

We will be seeing a new vet tomorrow, but what would YOU do? I know every dog and every parent is different...but let's just say this was your old girl who still has several good years left in her...


Hello, Kristy,

I am very ill-equipped to advise you, as I have seen neither your dog nor your X-ray, and I am by no means an orthopedic specialist.

With a dog of this age, the best advice I can give you would be to see an orthopedic specialist.

Best wishes.


Hi, kristy again...

Just wanted to let you, and well, others out there know that after visiting the second veterinarian (who happens to be an orthopedic specialist) my 14 year old lab mix is on her way to healing. Because we came in soon enough after the dislocation, and it was a clean "unhinge", as it were, the doctor was able to put the femur back into it's joint. Legend is now slung tightly with strict regulations on her movement for the next ten days while her body mends itself. And of course, we will be carefully watching what she does for a while to come. I just wanted to share this in case anyone else believes that their dog is awesome enough to take care of business. Without surgery or being on meds for the rest of their life. Legend is most certainly in a league of her own. As I'm sure most pet people feel about their own pets.

Thanks doc. This forum helped me comfortably decide which road to take.


You're welcome, Kristy. Glad Legend is on the mend.

Thanks for reading and writing.


hi what does a dislocated hip look like? Can a dog walk on it? What are the symptoms? Would she sit on it? Our dog got run over a week ago, we took her to the vet the day after and the vet said she seemed ok just really swollen. We did not get xrays so I'm starting to get scared because she is still crying and trying to lick her hip, but she can't reach it.


Hello, Brenda,

The hip may look "higher" on one side. It is often difficult to tell without an X-ray.

She may sit on it, but is unlikely to walk on it.

I would take her back for a recheck.

Good luck.

david storer

my 60 pound mix breed was hit by a semi tanker and dislocated her left hip about 3 weeks ago sling is off waiting for her to start using it more very little progress so far what can i expect for recovery


Hello, David,

Sorry about the late reply. I was out of the country for two weeks visiting my daughter who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. We had not seen her for 17 months.

If things have gone well, I would expect your dog to be starting to use the leg some by now (10 days later).

If she isn't using it at all, I would have the area X-rayed. If the hip is in place, but she's not using it, I would try swimming as physical therapy.

Good luck.

Ellis DVM

Hip dislocations can be tough as Doc has said. early replacement is the key. Also any breaks in the pelvis will slow recovery. Doggie Doc


Hello Doc,

I am writing about my 12 year old Husky/ Lab mix, Lanie. She was hit by a car in June, and fractured her femur. We got a great surgeon to do an "interlocking nail" surgery. The recovery was slow, as she is very arthritic, but she got back to her normal slowish self. Anyway, she went in for her 8 week follow-up with the vet and came out holding that leg up, and in serious pain. We thought they had just pulled on her too much to get x-rays, but now we are 2 weeks later and she is resistant to eating, and is still not using the leg. Our neighbor, an Orthopaedic surgeon suggested he thinks in doing the x-ray they dislocated her hip. Have you ever heard of such a thing? The surgical hospital says they were gentle, but she hasn't walked on her own (we use a sling) for 2 weeks and her appetite is gone. She goes for a repeat visit to the surgeon in the morning, and I am trying to figure out what it could be -- they thought maybe she pulled her groin (but there is zero improvement). Now that so much time has passed, if it is a hip dislocation, could we do a surgery to help her? She is big, was 70 pounds, though I'm sure she's lost quite a bit in the last 2 weeks. What do you think, anything we should consider?


Hello, Rachel,
Sorry to be late in replying.

I cannot imagine pulling hard enough to dislocate a hip joint. It is so tight. If you were ever present while someone is trying to replace a dislocated joint, you would not find this theory very plausible. Maybe if it were a tiny dog and you swung him around in the air by his leg? Just not happening.

I am concerned about possible nerve damage, or other complications in the bone healing process. Orthopedic surgery is only half carpentry, putting the bone fragments together. The other half is gardening, getting them to GROW back together.

With an older patient you are more likely to have trouble with the gardening. The metal implants can fail.

Also, older patients may have other medical problems that make them slow healers.

By this time, I suspect that your surgeon has re-X-rayed and is zeroing in on the problem.

If the fracture seems to be doing well, there are veterinarians who specialize in rehab therapy, and your baby may be needing that.

Good luck.


Thank you Doc,

I responded before, but it seems to have disappeared. Oh well. Thank yo for your thoughtful response. The vet agreed, no hip dislocation. He was a bit stumped to see her much worse after the 8 week exam as well. We are going to give her a few days of antibiotics because her knee was very painful, and he thought the fluid could be infected. If that doesn't help, the next step will likely be removing her interlocking nail implant. He says her bone is strong enough, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that antibiotics work!

Anyway, I appreciate your response!


Barbara Yoder

Hello! We have a 3 year old Australian Shepherd mix, Blaze, who was hit by a car a week ago, and has a dislocated hip. We took him to the vet shortly after it happened and after 3 attempts, the hip would not stay in, so we were sent home to consider our options.

We have FHO surgery scheduled, but I have a question -- is there any way to tell if he could live pain free without the surgery?

I ask this because Blaze is still on Rimadyl and an antiinflammatory and is doing better each day. He uses the leg more each day, and is getting back to his old self -- harrassing the cats and chasing my mop. He enve just jumped up on the bed! He is impossible to confine.

We are ok with spending the money, but we would like to avoid surgery if possible just because there are always risks involved.

Can you offer any guidance here to understand what kind of pain he might be experiencing?

THank you so much!


If the dog is not too large and heavy, they can develop a "false joint". The head of the femur sort of settles into a space in the muscle tissue.

This is certainly not the same as a normal joint. However, it may not be painful, either, after the dog becomes accustomed to the new alignment.

I have experienced multiple shoulder dislocations, eventually requiring surgical correction myself. It hurts like hell when it is first out of socket. I didn't want to try to live with it that way.

The purpose of the FHO is to remove the pain of bone grating on bone.

You should discuss this further with your veterinarian and share your concerns with him/her.

It is possible to let the dog continue to heal and then evaluate his behavior with and without the pain medication. Sometimes we don't realize how much pain the patient is in until we compare those situations.

Please discuss this with your veterinarian, as he/she is actually seeing your dog and is better equipped to advise you.

Barbara Yoder

Hi again,

Thanks for your honest thoughts on this. I wanted to ask you b/c the vet doing the surgery felt -- w.o seeing the dog yet -- that if we were not going to do the surgery, then the Blaze should be put down. That was such a strong and unequivocal response that I felt uncomfortable with him giving me an open-minded opinion, especially since the vet who treated him (Sat. emergency clinic) presented things in a different light -- that Blaze might develop this false joint and be able to live pain free.

I just didn't know if there was some way to tell, so thanks for your suggestion.



2 days ago I put my 4 month old lab puppy outside to do her business. I always put her out and leave the door open as she commes right back when she is finished. When she returned back inside I could tell she was in pain. She will not put any pressure on her right back leg, it kinda just hangs there limp like. Right after I first noticed it I put her back outside on her line hoping she might have twisted her leg the wrong way and would maybe walk it off. I looked out the window at her and she was drooling excessivly. I immediately called the vet and she said that she may have sprained it and was drooling due to nausea from the pain and it should get better within a few hours. Although the drooling has stopped, her leg is still limp and she refuses to walk on it. There is also swelling near the hip. Could it be dislocated or what else could be wrong with it?I am taking her tomorrow to the vet but I am still very worried now and looking for piece of mind. Thank you


Hello, Tash,

I am very concerned that the leg may be broken, a ligament torn, or there might be a dislocation (less likely.

I would keep the puppy as quiet as possible, maybe even putting her in a crate when you cannot supervise her.

Over-the-counter pain relievers are not generally safe in dogs. Mixing pain relievers is also dangerous.

You could apply a cold compress to the area to help with pain and swelling. Fix a pan of ice water and use a cold towel for 15 minutes at a time, maybe two or three times tonight.

Do not put ice directly on the tissue, as it will cause damage.

Good luck.


I "inherited" my brothers 9 month old golden/lab mix. She was hit by a car at 3-4 months, had her hind right femur reinserted into her hip, but it came out a month or two later. He could not afford to take her back to the vet, it has now been out 5 months or so. She uses it a bit when walking and holds it up when running, and does not appear to be in any pain. My question is, does she need surgery to have it reinserted or will she be ok the rest of her life with it out of socket?

Thank you for your site and blog, it is very helpful and informative!


Hello, Maegan,

A big dog like that is less likely to have long-term good function with a "false-joint" situation like this.

She may be functional with just the muscle tissue sling that develops to support the dog. However, since the bones are not in normal alignment, there is a good chance that you will get some bone-on-bone rubbing that doesn't have the cartilage cushion of abnormal joint. This is painful.

With it being out of socket that long, you would want to have it evaluated by an orthopedic specialist.

Sometimes they will remove the femoral head (the ball of the ball and socket joint), which eliminates the bone-on-bone thing.

To put the joint back in its original alignment would be a major orthopedic surgery. Success would depend on a lot of factors, including any changes that have occurred to the joint surfaces during this long period of time.

You really need new X-rays and a specialist to evaluate the situation.

Best wishes.


My 8 month old German Shepherd /Rottweiler mix was playing, jumped a few inches in the air and when he landed he was screaming. His hind leg is curled up at the hip, he won't put any weight on it and he's just laying around. I am able to fully extend the leg, but when he stands (only for a couple seconds at a time), he keeps the leg curled up and won't straighten it or put it down at all. I don't have a dollar much less the hundreds it would cost to take him to the vet....IDK what to do!


Hello, Barbara,

I with that I were better able to help you without seeing your dog. I would really need to actually touch and manipulate the leg, if not X-ray it.

It is unlikely that he dislocated the limb playing by himself.

He could have sprained or strained a ligament or joint.

Do not give Ibuprofen or Naproxen (Advil or Aleve), as these can cause serious bleeding ulcers in the dog's stomach with very few doses.

Tylenol and aspirin are not good for long-term use, but one regular strength aspirin or Tylenol (not both) per forty pounds of body weight would be safe for most dogs for a day or two. One tablet per forty pounds of body weight can be given up to three times daily for a couple of days.

Do not give this long-term. This is for emergency use only to control his pain.


My 4 year old Great Pyrenees dislocated his hip at about 9AM Friday morning. I got him to the Vet at around 10:30AM. The vet put him under and was easily able to pop it back in. She called and said that we could pick him back up later that day. We picked him up and brought him home. The next morning his hip dislocated again and all he did was stand up. We had to take him back and this time they kept him for 2 days and kept a sling on him. I just picked him up a few hours ago. Is 2 days long enough for his ligaments to heal to keep everything in place. I am just worried that it will pop out again.....


Hello, Paul,
These cases can be very frustrating. Whether to sling or not is controversial. That is the way I was trained, and many veterinarians still swear by it.

Others now say that the sling may cause more problems than it solves. Better to just keep the animal crated and not moving until the stretched and swollen ligaments have time to heal.

Some patients will require surgery no matter how speedily or skillfully the injury is treated.

Share your concerns with your veterinarian and ask them how best to manage your dog. Ask what to do and what to look for. Give them plenty of feedback.

Good luck.

Mike and Patty

Our four month lab has dislocation in his hip bone. We keep getting mixed opinions on what he really has wrong and what procedure he needs done. We have the XRay available by email , would you be willing to look at it if we emailed it ?


Hello, Mike and Patty,

I really am not a radiologist or an orthopedic specialist.

It sounds like that is what you need.

Ask your veterinarian if they can email the X-rays to a specialist for you.

They will have the advantage of also being able to add the information from your pet's medical history and their examinations. The X-ray is just one piece of the puzzle in a case like this.

The teaching hospitals at the veterinary schools are a great resource for this.

Good luck.


I'm curious as to what the difference between hip dysplasia and a dislocation would look like...are they easy to tell apart? my Aussie Sheppard momma dog came home today after running in one of our fields and has been in pain most of the day with what appears to be her hip joint enlarged. I plan on calling our vet in the morning but i was curious about the hip dysplasia vs. dislocation.


Hello, Emily,

Hip dysplasia means that the hip joint has not developed in a normal manner as the dog grew and matured. Instead of a nice deep ball and socket joint, you may have a shallow socket, or a poorly formed "ball".

Also, some dogs whose bone structure appears normal do not have a tight muscle and ligament structure. This allows the two bones in the joint to separate and bang into one another. This beats up the joint surface, generally leading to arthritis at an early age.

If the hips are very "loose", the dog might be more prone to dislocation of the hip joint. Dislocation means that the ball just isn't in the socket and won't go back in by itself.

It usually takes a pretty heavy trauma to dislocate a hip joint, but sometimes you can fall and just hit exactly wrong and do it.

Because of the large amount of muscle tissue in this area, it usually requires an X-ray to evaluate the situation.

Your veterinarian can give you more specific information after examining your dog.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Hi Doctor,
My 45 pound chau chau misteriously dislocated his hip. Took him to vet and they put a sling for a couple of weeks. About 2 weeks ago he startef running around in circles and I dont know if his femoral head came out again or he just hurt his already hurt muscles. He is not using his leg when he is on the tile floor but if I take him for a walk he uses his leg although he limps a little bit but it does not seem to hurt as he even stands on that leg to pee or on the other leg and abdopts the bad one like nothing happened. He even scratches the grass with the two bag leg. I dont know what to think. Do you think he needs surgery?


Hello, Ivan,

It certainly sounds like the hip may be out again.

I would recommend visiting your veterinarian for a follow-up X-ray. With the information from a new examination and picture, they can contact an orthopedic specialist if necessary.

I really cannot advise you from this distance, but it sounds like surgery may be needed to keep the hip in place.


I have a 2month old puppy and i got home yesterday to find that he was trying to walk or hop on three legs instead of all four. his right hind leg just hangs there he cant move his paw or anything he just drags his whole leg. his hip looks like its further up than his left you can not touch it because he will cry. Is it broken dislocated? Im trying to find money to take him in but is there anything i can do to make him comfortable at home until then.. he has a very difficult time walking as well since that leg is like that.


Hello, Nes,

It could be broken or dislocated. I don't know how to tell without an Xray.

Over the counter pain medicines are really not safe for such a small puppy.

I wish I had another suggestion, but he really needs to go to the veterinarian.

Good luck.

Hewitt Travis

My 65lb lab mix had a dislocated left hip repaired by removing the ball. The dog is over weight and the recovery has not been as good as I had hoped. During the treatment we found hip dysplasia in the right hip. Is the same type surgery the right repair for this hip. Are there more appropriate treatments?


Hello, Hewitt,

That might eventually be necessary. Most dogs have mild enough arthritis problems that taking anti-inflammatory medicines will control it without surgery.

Using glucosamine and chondroitin products (nutraceuticals) really makes a difference for a lot of dogs. No side effects, either.

More severe cases can benefit from NSAIDs, like Rimadyl or Deramaxx, or Metacam.

Worst case scenario would be total hip replacement surgery. This requires an excellent orthopedic surgeon and is quite expensive.

Thanks for reading and writing.

Hewitt Travis

The Lab I am talking about is only one year old, He is not using the left rear leg as much as I think he should and now the right hip comes out of the joint quite often and causes pain. My question is with the left leg having the ball removed and using it as a false joint would it be ok to make a false joint on the other hip also. with ball removed from both hips would he be able to run and play, etc


The FHO (femoral head ostectomy) has better results in small dogs than in large dogs like Labs.

I think the results would be an improvement over constant pain, but he certainly wouldn't have the athletic capability of a normal dog. There is also the potential for some discomfort with the weight on muscular attachments with no bony articulation for support.

It sounds to me like you really need to see an orthopedic specialist for advice. This is a bit out of my league.


my 5 year old sheltie dislocated his hip and injured his stifle - got away while on leash and hit by a car. It has been 10 days, and the sling is off (after closed reduction) and he is using the leg we are still confining, no stairs, no jumping, but he can walk thru living and dining room. Vet said keep him confined for 2 more weeks -does that seem like long enough? Will he be able to jump onto an off the couch (he is 42 pounds and about 20 inches tall at shoulder) He is a very athletic dog, but I am ready to change his lifestyle to avoid his future pain. THank you (He is a LUCKY dog)


Hello, Norma,

Your veterinarian knows your dog and his situation, and is best qualified to advise you in this.

I agree with the recommendations for exercise restriction for an additional two weeks.

As for jumping, if you can prevent that for at a month, I certainly would.

My best recommendation would be to have your veterinarian re-evaluate your dog's situation after the 4 weeks of restricted activity. He/she will be better able to advise you after that recheck.

Good luck.


My 13yr old Shih Tzu was knocked down the stairs by my other dog. His hip was amazingly only dislocated. (the xrays make it look like it was a bad break). He ended up getting a graft to his eye, and two closed hip reductions before I even brought him home, and they believe that it was out again upon discharge home when we came back ten days later. We then did an open reduction with toggle in place and he was walking great. Three days before the four week check up, his toe nail was catching on the carpet ( of the affected leg) , I went to clip the toenail and heard a pop. The pop was the thread breaking. We then did a second open reduction with the dog not walking right, with his leg out to the side and a call to the vet before we left the hospital only to receive no reply. We are ten days since surgery, and he is walking but will wax out frequently. I'm not convinced it is in place. I do not wish to do repeat surgery, and we were told only if the femoral head was cut off would the leg form a false joint. From what I'm reading here, if we are not successful, he should form a false joint around where the hip is. I asked this a few times from our ortho specialist surgeon, and he said I couldn't leave him like that as he was in pain. The dog was eating, playing, rolling, and getting around great on three legs.The poor dog has been isolated in a crate, only to be taken out to be fed and small short walks. It's not a quality of life for my poor baby!!!! What do you think. By the way, we did have the put down the dog talk, and I was told no as there is nothing wrong with my dog. I love my baby, and am $7000.00 in the hole.Pls give me something positive and cost effective.

Looking for hope, and my dog back


WOW!!! You are one committed dog-owner.

While a dog may certainly form a false joint with a dislocated hip, you can also get some bone-on-bone with that, and that's painful.

With removal of the femoral head, there's no bone-on-bone. With a small dog, there should be enough support with the muscular attachments for the dog to use the leg pretty effectively.

With the FHO (femoral head ostectomy), you should get a 4-legged dog instead of a 3-legged one.

A dog who is not using the leg is not using it because he can't, or because it hurts, or both.

You can't predict the future, but it sounds to me like you would be happiest with the FHO.

Thanks for reading and writing.



I wote back in October about my Great Pyrenees dislocating his hip. Well it has happened 2 more times since then and vet has suggested surgery. The 3 types of surgery she has told us about are 1. FHO... Where cut the bone and have a free standing joint. (We are not for this.) A full hip replacement (Too expensive) and tightrope for coxofemoral luxation repair. (She has never performed this and I haven't found anyone in our area that has either. Can you tell me a little about it and if there are other options? The xrays show no Dysplasia and our vet is surprised at how good his hips are. His muscle doesn't seem to be able to keep his leg and hip together.

Thanks for your help and any suggestions.


Hello, Paul,

At this point, it sounds like you need the advice of an orthopedic specialist, which I certainly am not.

That's the best suggestion I can give.

Good luck.


We have a 19 pound Pomeranian. He is a big pom and should be 15 lbs. I walked in from work last night and he did a strange little jump to greet me and fell on the floor screaming. His bladder cut loose and I rushed him to the vet. They said his ligament was torn and his hip dislocated. They told me this only could happen with a traumatic injury. Car accident etc. But that's not what has happened he only did a strange twisting jump. Have you ever heard of something like this?


Hello, Dawn,

While it would ordinarily take a pretty significant trauma to dislocate a hip, sometimes you land "just wrong". It's like cutting a diamond. If you hit it just right, you don't have to hit it hard.

I know a young man who ruptured the knee ligament stepping off a curb "funny". He wasn't even running.

So, yes, I've heard of similar situations. Fortunately we don't see them every day.

Thanks for reading and writing.

Mary Lange

My 9 year old jack russel dislocated her hip a week ago and the vet put it in a sling. She is hopping around and seems to feel just fine. I however am a paranoid basket case! I have heard that they can dislocate again and was wondering if that could happen easily with it in the sling. And also would it be painful, would I know if that happened? It seems that her leg may have moved further under her belly. Would that be a sign of re-dislocation? Thank you so much. Mary L.


Hello, Mary,

The point of the sling is to keep the dog from putting weight on the hip and popping it out again. You want to give the damaged surrounding structures time to heal and shrink back to their normal size again.

It is true that sometimes the hip pops out in spite of the sling. The best way that I know to tell this is to take another X-ray.

You could crank around on the hip to tell, but then you might pop it out again in doing that manipulation. That's why an X-ray would be better.

Talk to your veterinarian and let him/her know your concerns.

Best wishes.


Thank you so much!


Good morning,
my 10 year old afghan hound has had her dislocated hip manually manipulated back in place. The surgeon does not agree with using a sling. She also has a large, though draining, haematoma. I pick her up today and am worried as to the outcome as she was/is a very fit, active dog. Would you advise crating and can she be walked for lavatory needs?
Thank you for your help.


Hello, Clare,

The use of the sling is really controversial. Many specialists feel they can do more harm than good, while others feel that if properly applied they can keep stress off the joint.

If you have a big hematoma, I would guess that the sling would be even more of a problem.

You should really talk with your veterinarian about this, as he has seen the dog and I have not.

Just from the information you have supplied, I would keep the dog crated. I would keep her on a short leash when walking her outside to use the bathroom.

We just don't want her to put any weight on that limb if we can help it.

Good luck.


thank you so much for prompt reply.
She is now home and frankly has no desire to move at all - nor eat, nor drink which is more worrying. Even her favourite roast chicken has no interest and she appears not to have eaten since Monday.
I am prepared to clean her inside.
They felt she would recover quicker at home although were prepared to keep her. Just noticed she is now panting heavily.


Apologies, just to add: She has now taken a large drink from her bowl and is occasionally panting. I am so sorry for troubling you and sincerely thank you for providing such a forum.


Hello, again, Clare,

I would recommend that you speak with your veterinarian about this, specifically in regard to pain medication.

Sometimes the dog's pain is not adequately controlled, so they don't feel like eating.

Alternatively, sometimes the pain medicine itself can be sedative and cause a poor appetite. The pain is under control, but the side effects reduce appetite.

Again, let your veterinarian know what is happening.

karen kilpatrick

I HAVE A 6 YR. OLD PUG. 4 WEEKS AGO SHE TRIED TO JUMP UP ON THE COUCH AND SHE MISSED AND FELL DIRECTLY ON HER BUTT. SHE MADE A REALLY WEIRD FACE AND I THOUGHT SHE WAS HAVING A STROKE SHE HAD NO CONTROL OF HER BACK LEGS,THEY WERE JUST HANGING THERE,SHE COULD NOT WALK for 2 days. I tuck her to the vet and he said that she hurt her back and that it would heal in about 6 weeks but not to let her go up or down stairs or jump off anything. it has been 6 weeks now and she walks but she sort of looks like a bent car frame. I am wondering could it be a dislocated hip? and if so is it too late to have it manipulated back into place? she seems to still be in pain and is not walking properly,


Hello, Karen,

It could be hip or back problems. Regardless, it sounds to me like a trip back to the veterinarian for re-evaluation is what is needed.

I do not think that anyone is going to be able to make an accurate appraisal of the situation without seeing the dog as she is now.

Good luck.

Rosa L. Haddock

Hello Dr.:

My dog is 9 months old and he had a traumatic hip dislocation (with no other injuries fortunately). We took him quickly to the vet and they made a close reduction and placed a sling on it. However, after 1 week, the hip dislocated again, and they again reduced it and put a sling on it... Now, almost 3 weeks after, the hip dislocated once again, the muscles look atrophied and it seems like he doesn't feel anything on the leg. What should I do? Do you think the vet waited too long to call in the surgeon? Because for some reason, I believe this should have been called earlier... I don't know. :/


Hello, Rosa,

These can be difficult judgment calls. Closed reduction is certainly the initial treatment of choice, and I myself would have tried it a second time.

I do not feel like your veterinarian has given you sub-standard care. The results are not what we would have wished for, but we cannot always control that.

At this point it would seem that surgery is your best option. I do not think that many doctors would have opted for doing surgery earlier in the case.

Good luck.


Hi Doctor,

We recently got a Dutch Shepherd puppy. My husband picked him out at 4 weeks old. At that time, I was concerned that he was not as active as his littermates and mostly just sat there, but my husband really liked him. When we picked him up to bring him home several weeks later, I still thought his rear end looked like a rhino and he fell and flopped quite a bit, but he steadily got stronger and more active. He is 10 weeks now and runs and can go up stairs and doesn't have any limp, but his right hip has a lump that the left hip doesn't. When I manipulate the leg I hear a crackle. He does bunny hop in the rear at a run, but trots fine. His bottom wiggles a lot at the walk and his knee turns out on that side.

Unfortunately, judging by his feet he will end up around 70 lbs. We are scheduled to go in for x-rays, but I was hoping to get some advice as to what options would be available now? Is it possible for a pup to have a hip dislocation during birth (it was reportedly a long, hard labor)?

Thanks so much for your advice!


Hello, Lauren,

I suppose it would be possible to have a traumatic dislocation during birth, but it is very unlikely. They get squeezed through the birth canal like toothpaste, and it's not the plane of force that one would expect to produce that trauma.

It is unfortunately more likely that he is extremely dysplastic, meaning that the hip ball&socket joint is just very poorly formed, and unstable.

We have a patient with similar clinical signs. We x-rayed his hips, and it looked like both were totally dislocated. The joint structures that hold it together were just super loose.

This dog was about 8 months old when he was presented. Rather than start lifelong anti-inflammatory drugs or send him for two total-hip replacements (which the people could no way afford), we decided to try acupuncture.

There are no guarantees with a patient like this, but our patient did respond well. His gait is certainly not normal, but his degree of pain has been drastically reduced.

The x-rays should tell the tale and your veterinarian will be the best person to discuss your options.

Good luck.


My pomeranian dislocated her hip the vet put it back but then taped her two back legs together, she can not squat to go to the bathroom. Is this necessary, I thought they would tape it up not together.

Faye Leck

Hi Doctor,
My 8 year old Siberian Husky, Snowball, dislocated his hip last week for no apparent reason. We brought his to the vet and they tried Closed Reduction. However we brought him back today for a follow up and the procedure didn't work.
The vet has scheduled a surgery in three days, however we haven't decided on what kind would be the best for Snowball.
Do you have any advice on the type of surgery we should go for considering his age and breed? Is 8 years old counted an old age? He hasn't had any other injuries or illnesses before except those occasional minor diahorrea, so he's a healthy dog right?
I really hope he'll be able to recover ASAP as it really pains me to see him limping on threes and dangling his hurt leg. :(
Thanks for all your help doc. :')


Hello, Mary,

Sorry to be so late replying, but have been out of town and catching up.

I must say that I have not seen that technique of taping the dog's legs together.

If you have not already done so, please let your veterinarian know the trouble you are having with her bathroom situation.

When we don't hear from our clients, we often assume that everything is going okay.

Let your veterinarian know what is happening and share your concerns with him/her.


Hello, Faye,

Sorry to be so late replying, but have been out of town and catching up.

Without seeing your dog and his X-rays, I really cannot advise you. Also, I am not an orthopedic surgeon. When I have problems of this nature, I consult a specialist.

Eight years is a lot older for a large breed dog than it is for the toy breeds. If his health has been generally good, then I would expect him to do well.

Your veterinarian can also talk with you about pre-surgical risk factor testing (blood tests, electrocardiogram, chest X-rays, and so forth).

There's never a guarantee of a good outcome, but a good orthopedic surgeon has a very good chance of restoring your buddy to full function. He may have a little more chance of arthritis as a result of this injury, though.

Best wishes.


Good evening....from France!
I posted back in February after my Afghan Hound dislocated her hip following, we think, a car hit.
It was a closed manipulation which appeared to work well, until, she slipped her collar and did a runner, leaping over and into ditches...and dislocating hip again.
She had subsequently an operation with an orthopaedic surgeon and had a figure of eight suture to hold all in place. Was doing well, until after a week, I noticed her leg seemed somewhat displaced.
It was out again, following x-ray, although sutures still in place. Appears she gets up from sitting in such a way that she pushes the femur down rather than up.
Today it was re-manipulated into place and she will be home tomorrow with the Ehmer sling, despite the surgeon finding it somewhat old-fashioned.
If that fails, it will be pins and failing that the cutting of the femora ball.
She is ten years old and I asked him at what point all of this becomes for me rather than her. He was adamant that this point had most certainly not been reached.
Forgive me, the whole point of this is how do I manage her with the sling. She is only 17kgms but I have a bad back and cannot carry her out. I depend on neighbours in rural France but they will be leaving for a fortnight tomorrow.
She is not a dog who will soil herself indoors although I would happily deal with all that.
Oh dear, what am I saying? Basically, what do you think?
I am most happy with her treatment so far and the cost is probably at least a quarter of fees elsewhere e.g. her two and a half hour op plus x-rays etc etc cost in £409.
In the UK it would have been three times that.
Again, thank you so much for being there.


Hello, Clare,

It sounds like you are very committed to restoring your friend to a normal way of walking.

With all these problems, even if the slings or additional surgeries are successful, you will probably have more arthritis problems to deal with than if the dislocation had not occurred to start with.

That should be manageable with things like glucosamine supplements, Adequan injections, or anti-inflammatory medicines like Rimadyl, Dermaxx, or Metacam.

If you wind up having to amputate the femoral head (ball), the dog's gait will not be 100% normal, but she will be free of the pain that results from abnormal articulation of bone on bone.

As to managing the sling, the worst problem is usually that the tape can rub a raw place in the flank fold. Also, sometimes it gets tight around the paw. Do watch for swelling of the paw, or redness and chafing of the tape. The sling may need to be removed and re-applied.

Best wishes.


As always, my thanks. She is home and walking well on three legs!


Oh dear, I'm back again!
It became quickly apparent that Portia was uncomfortable and unhappy. She started licking her paw and elbow to a raw state.
I got her quickly back to the clinic where they cut off the sling. It was extremely painful for her and the surgeon showed me signs of necrosis, saying the bandage had been too tight and also blaming her lack of muscle and fat and angular long legs.
There is no point in recriminations...however at one point he was talking of amputation; particularly as without the sling the chances of the hip staying in were remote.
That was Friday: my weekend was hellish as I contemplated amputation and decided I couldn't do that to a glorious hound who once ran free. However, I was swithering after reading all the successful tripod stories on line.
But how much do you put a dog through?Today all talk of amputation gone. He believes there are two patches of 'dead' skin but a further 24 hr watch is upon her. I may get her back tomorrow.
Then we're back to old problem of hip coming out. My main question really is if she has the femoral ball removal what is so different that it can be guaranteed to stay in?
There is also a suggestion of the pin op.
I appreciate that without you seeing the dog, you will find it hard to comment; but I hope you can do a generalised answer for me.
Again, again, my thanks.


Hello, Clare,

Sorry to hear of your troubles. Removing the femoral ball means that there is no bone-to-bone joint anymore. The dog's weight is supported by the muscular attachments to the femur, a sort of muscular sling.

This is usually very satisfactory in small dogs. In large dogs, one is less likely to have full athletic ability, but the leg is often useful, and it is free of the pain that results when the dislocated hip "ball" rubs on the socket.

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