When our dog, Pepper, first dislocated his hip, I googled for advice and stories about how often dogs could actually recover from this injury without surgery. The doctor told me that most dogs had a 50-50 chance of recovery without surgery. For Pepper, he gave 60-40 because of his small size and temperment.
I was sick at the thought of another dislocation, because surgery is $$$$. I was afraid we’d have to put him down. *sobs*
Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a lot of positive stories, so I felt it was important to share about Pepper’s recovery. The vet said three weeks of confinement, preferably in a crate. Absolutely no stairs (we live in a split-level) and as little activity as possible for three weeks. Because of his small size, they couldn’t even put his injured leg in a sling to keep it tight against his body (his leg just came right out of it).
At first, it seemed impossible. We’ve never crated Pepper and I knew he’d hate it. It’s a testament to how much pain he was in that he didn’t mind it the first few days. He even voluntarily crawled inside to lie on his king-sized pillow, sheet, and blankie.
The first day he was pretty woozie from getting put under. All he did was lie around. He wouldn’t eat or drink, so I was pretty worried about him. The only way I could get his pain and anti-inflamatory meds down him was to wrap them in deli turkey. So I bought him another pack! Taking him out to go potty was a sad affair (he’s a boy – hiking one hind leg was impossible with his other dislocated). He slept all night without a peep, and the next morning guzzled water.
Over the weekend, he still didn’t have much appetite, so I kept feeding him turkey. Keeping him confined was simple — he didn’t want to go or do anything. The first day or two, he walked on his own but his backend swayed a lot, as if he couldn’t stabilize himself. I’m sure it’s because all those ligaments were torn. The only time I allowed him to walk at all was in the yard to potty, and as soon as he was done, I scooped him up and carried him back inside.
On the weekdays, I carried him down to my office and kept him penned there all day with his own water and food bowl. After a few days, he started to eat his own food again and no longer wanted to be in his crate. Princess wanted him in her room (she felt really badly that he’d been hurt), so she kept him in his crate at night in her room. In the second week, he started waking her up at night, wanting out of his crate. I finally told her to just let him sleep out in her room. Her bed is very low so I didn’t have to worry about him jumping up and down too much and he was much happier.
Going into the third week, I can tell he’s much better. He’s gotten away from me a few times and trotted up and down the stairs before I could catch up with him. He’s eating and peeing normally. He walks without pain. He can jump up and put his front paws on the edge of my chair when he wants me to pick him up, with all his weight on his two back legs. Obviously, it’s been much more challenging to keep him from activity. Today, he even showed interest in playing ball with our other highly active dog (if KC had dislocated her hip, it’d be impossible to keep her stationary — she’s a very active, high maintenance dog).
I think his age (10 years old) and temperment played a huge part in his ability to recover so far. He’s definitely a “lap” dog and never more happy than just sleeping on my lap. Thursday will be the end of his confinement. I’ll be so happy not to have to carry him up and down the stairs any longer! He’s only 15 pounds, but I know that’s how I injured my back.
*knocks on wood* Hopefully he’s well on the mend and his hip won’t pop out again! According to my research, he’ll likely have arthritis in his hip, but so far his mobility doesn’t seem to be affected at all.