How do you know if a dog’s leg is dislocated? Here’s What to Do Next

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
  • Should I try to examine the leg?

    If your dog is in severe pain, do not attempt to examine her. Even if she’s not in obvious discomfort, manipulating broken bones or dislocated joints can cause unnecessary pain and may worsen the injury. Here’s a simple guideline to help you determine the severity of the injury: Most dogs will not walk on a broken leg or dislocated joint.

    A good exam requires two people: one to examine the leg and one to restrain the dog. Painful dogs bite, even people they love, so be cautious. If the exam becomes too painful, stop! The evaluation of most lame dogs is best left to a veterinarian, but here are a few pointers in case you decide to give it a try.

    After you identify the hurt leg, it’s time to pinpoint where it hurts. Begin your exam with the toes. Look between the toes for foreign bodies (thorns, splinters, grass awns) or redness (interdigital pyoderma). Examine the pads for cuts or punctures and assess each toenail for breaks or nail bed infections. Apply gentle pressure to each toe and note painful areas. Most dogs will pull the leg back when you touch a sore spot.

    Work your way up the limb identifying areas of tenderness by applying gentle pressure on each part of the leg. Note areas of swelling. Bend and flex joints. Resistance to bending a joint is a sign of pain. If something looks or feels unusual, compare it to the other leg. Then call your veterinarian with your observations.

    Shock symptoms

    A severe fracture that causes internal bleeding can cause a dog to go into shock. Shock symptoms in dogs include pale gums, thirst, rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and weakness or faintness.

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