Joint Dislocation in Dogs

Joint Luxations in Dogs

Bone acts as the architectural framework for the body in all mammals. It is a rigid structure that helps maintain the bodies shape and protects vital organs. A joint, meanwhile, is a structure where two or more bones unite together. Most joints have a capsule that joins the articulating (meeting) bones together. This capsule has a thick, fibrous layer that stabilizes the joint. Most joints are also provided with additional ligaments that allow joint capsules to keep movements within normal ranges. Therefore, if joints become damaged, disrupted, or undergo abnormal development, they become unstable.

The term luxation is used for the dislocation and complete disruption of a joint. In this condition, the supporting structures, like ligaments present around the joint, are damaged or completely missing. A milder form of this disease, called subluxation, represents a partial dislocation of a joint.

Symptoms and Types

  • Pain
  • Swelling at site
  • Inability to use affected limb
  • Partial weight bearing
  • Lameness


There are two basic forms of joint luxation: trauma-induced luxation or congenital, which is present at birth. The latter form is aggravated by stress at later stages. In addition, shoulder joint luxation is predisposed in smaller breeds of dogs, such as miniature poodles.


Your veterinarian will take a detailed history of your dog, asking you about the nature and frequency of the symptoms. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination on the dog, especially the areas around the joints.

Your veterinarian will also order multiple X-rays of the affected joints, which will help in confirming the diagnosis. This is because the results of routine laboratory tests, such as complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, are usually normal in affected animals if there is no other concurrent disease present.


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The displacement of the bone from its joint


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


The dislocation of a bone from the joint

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