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Have you observed that your dog is walking in an odd manner as if it is experiencing pain? Is your animal companion possibly moving strangely and constantly extending its legs? These are probable indications of a luxating patella in the canine.

The condition seems like a long-term ailment. So what is it exactly? You’ll find out about the symptoms, the causes, and the treatment in this article.

What Is A Luxating Patella In Dogs?


Luxating patella in dogs is a condition that occurs when the patella (also known as the kneecap) of your dog moves out of its normal position. Canine luxating patella causes the kneecap to become misaligned and dislocate from its normal resting place on the femur bone of your dog. As a result, your dog might have lameness.

Your dog might skip or hop on one leg if it is lame because it is trying to move its popped kneecap back into place. When your dog’s kneecap becomes dislocated, you may hear a faint “clicking” sound and see the kneecap move in and out of the groove. Your dog may also howl out in discomfort when this happens.

Do Dogs With Luxating Patellas Really Need Surgery?

Well, it depends. If patellar luxation is of mild type (usually grade one or 2), then the dog does not need any surgery. But, dogs need surgical intervention if the Luxating Patella is severe (more than grade 2).

Additionally, larger dog breeds often require surgical treatment of luxating patella as compared to smaller dogs. It is because large-breed dogs with cranial cruciate illness, hip dysplasia, or long bone angulation make patellar luxation surgery more challenging. In order to treat patellar luxation, one or more of the following treatments may be necessary:

  •       Lateral Imbrication
  •       Trochlear Modification Surgery
  •       Tibial Crest Transposition

What Causes Luxating Patella In Dogs?

Causes Luxating Patella In Dogs

Several factors likely contribute to the anatomical alterations that cause the patella to luxate. These might be some of them:

  •       Traumatic injury (i.e. falling or being hit by a car)
  •       Certain breeds are more likely to have luxating patellae because of their genes.
  •       Growing dogs suffer bone conformation defects.

When a luxating patella arises, it is crucial to remember that it is not a problem that develops in isolation and takes place in a sterile environment. On the contrary, it is most often caused by other musculoskeletal issues that affect the alignment of the hind limb.

These include hip dysplasia, angular limb abnormalities, and quadriceps problems. Weight-bearing strains can cause bone abnormalities and severe osteoarthritis in dogs due to patella luxation.

Luxating Patella in Dogs Symptoms

Even though patella luxation symptoms can appear at any time, they usually appear before age one.

“Skipping” is the most prevalent sign of luxating patella, especially in tiny breeds, and the condition can cause it. You could notice that your furry buddy skips a few steps as it walks, but then it will resume its usual posture. There is a possibility that you will hear a clicking sound as the kneecap moves out of position.

You could also notice that one of his knees is turned outward when your dog is sitting. You may see your pup walking uncomfortably or stiffly if he has luxating patella in both of his knees. It’s possible that he can’t fully extend his knees. Some dogs learn to kick their limb to the side to move the kneecap back into place.

Dog Breeds Most Susceptible To Patella Luxation

Most cases of luxating patella happen in small dogs.

  •     Chihuahua
  •     Poodle
  •     Maltese
  •     Yorkie
  •     Cavoodle
  •     Bichon Frise
  •     Toy Poodle  
  •     Jack Russell Terrier  
  •     Papillon 
  •     Pom
  •     Pekingese
  •     Spaniels
  •     Boston Terrier  

The following are some examples of large/giant breeds that are susceptible to the condition:

  •     Retrievers
  •     Labs
  •     Danes
  •     Malamutes
  •     Siberian Huskies
  •     Boxers

Should You Walk A Dog With Luxating Patella?

If the dog’s condition of a luxating patella is minor, then you should continue to walk the dog. Walking a dog with grade I or slight grade II patella luxation can help to prevent arthritis and keep your pup in shape, but the activity should be low-impact. The benefits of hydrotherapy cannot be overstated. Walking your dog after surgery will help his joints heal.

Walking will help strengthen their coordination as well as the power of the muscles in their hind legs. It will also keep them healthy and in good physical shape. 

To strengthen the muscles that surround their knees, they need to go for a walk. If you are unclear about how much activity your dog suffering from patella luxation should be getting, you should consult your local veterinarian.

Can You Breed A Dog With Luxating Patella?

Such dogs should not be bred since patella luxation has a hereditary component and can be passed on. This disease appears most frequently in canines of small breeds, although it can also affect cats and certain dogs of a large breed

Exercises For Luxating Patella In Dogs

Even though dogs with a luxating patella shouldn’t do too much hard exercise, they still need to go for walks daily. Walking is essential to maintaining a healthy weight for both you and your dog, as well as keeping your dog’s muscles in good shape and reducing the risk of arthritis.

If you want to lessen the pressure on your dog’s knees, it is best to take him on many shorter walks throughout the day rather than one prolonged walk.

How To Prevent Luxating Patella In Dogs?

Patellar luxations are frequently inherited (conformity difficulties) or injury-related. Breeders can prevent it by selecting animals with sound knees. This does not provide a 100% guarantee that no puppies will be affected by the ailment. Genetics can cause compliance issues in a line of pups that have never had them.

If puppy buyers exclusively bought from breeders who checked their pups’ knees, the issue would be considerably minimized. This is especially important if you buy a breed known to be affected by the condition or if you want to compete with your dog in a sport like agility.

How To Avoid Getting The Condition

If you already have your puppy or have a rescue dog whose medical history you don’t know, the best way to keep knee problems from happening is to treat them as if they have a Grade 1 luxation. Do muscle exercises, like having them go from sitting to standing. They will benefit from swimming, and you should give them joint vitamins. Make sure that they maintain a healthy weight as well.

Patellar luxations, although they can be extremely unpleasant and infuriating, are not life-threatening. If you take good care of your dog, it will live long without any problems. The vast majority of canines will not need surgery.

If abnormalities are recognized early enough, procedures can be done to prevent the disease from worsening or from leading to arthritis. So, don’t panic if your dog has the ailment; there’s a lot you can do to make it pain-free and able to run and play for the rest of your life.

What Options Exist For Dogs Who Need Treatment For Luxating Patella?

Patellar luxations that do not produce any clinical symptom should be observed, but in most cases, they do not need surgical correction, particularly in smaller dogs. Surgery is thought about after grade 2.

Large-breed dogs with cranial cruciate illness, hip dysplasia, or long bone angulation make patellar luxation surgery more challenging. In order to treat patellar luxation, one or more of the following treatments may be necessary: 

Lateral Imbrication

This method may be sufficient for a minor condition, but it’s commonly needed to complement another. When the patella is dislocated from its groove, the joint capsule surrounding it stretches to accommodate the new range of motion.

A simple tuck in the joint capsule is required to perform an imbrication. As the joint capsule is tauter, there is no longer room for the kneecap to slide around, and it is constrained to its natural groove.

Trochlear Modification Surgery

One of the other possibilities is to enlarge the trochlear groove to prevent the patella from slipping out of its normal position and luxating. In order to protect cartilage during surgery, the surgeon will remove a thin slice of bone from beneath it.

After that, the cartilaginous component will be repositioned into its proper position. This keeps the cartilage’s ability to help the ends of the bone slide over each other and absorb shock when the pup moves.

Tibial Crest Transposition

Dogs with a bow-legged posture might require a tibial crest transposition (TTT). In order to address the aberrant stresses acting across the joint, this operation entails removing the tibial crest (also known as the tibial tuberosity) from the area where the patellar ligament connects and then pinning it back in a new location.

Pros And Cons Of Luxating Patella Surgery

Dog With Luxating Patella

Patella luxation may need surgery for some pups diagnosed with severe cases (grades 3 and 4). Your dog’s health and well-being are your primary concerns when you discuss surgical procedures with your veterinarian. A veterinary referral center can only do some patellar operations.

Surgery is recommended for any dog with luxating patellas, which can cause recurring or permanent lameness and damage to the knees. In most cases, surgery is unnecessary to treat a grade I patellar luxation; however, this is not the case with grades II–IV. The process may be broken down into three primary stages:

  •     The patellar ligament is shifted to the correct position at the site of attachment to the shin bone.
  •     The procedure is aimed to ensure that the patella remains in an accurate position by increasing the depth of the groove in the femur.  
  •     The procedure is performed on an elective procedure.

The capsule that surrounds the joint is pulled in closer. This causes the joint capsule to get stretched out as the patella moves. When it is tightened, there is a decreased likelihood that the patella may luxate again.

In addition, it is also possible to insert an implant into the knee, making it more difficult for the patella to slide over. Recovery time following surgery is often short, particularly when providing adequate pain treatment.

Any surgical procedure carries with it the risk of experiencing complications. The risk of infection during MPL surgery is significantly higher than the risk of any other complication. A high-grade luxation before surgery is more likely to re-luxate after surgery, requiring a second procedure.

Exercise and rehabilitation should also be limited appropriately to prevent the repair from being compromised. After orthopaedic surgery, the damaged joint may develop arthritis, although early identification and treatment can limit its progression.

How Much Does Luxating Patella Surgery Cost?

The actual cost of patellar luxation surgery depends on your geographical location and the surgeon’s reputation. General practitioners’ fees are often lower than those of specialized vet surgeons. The cost of the operation might range anywhere from $1500 to $4000.

You may choose to undergo rehabilitation instead of surgery if you cannot pay for it. A single session might cost anywhere from $50 to $80, which functions similarly to physical therapy for dogs.

Your pup’s muscles can be strengthened via rehabilitation, which will assist in supporting the knee joint and ensure that the kneecap is held in the correct place. Try to find a licensed veterinarian who specializes in rehabilitation.