Animals/ Pets

Dogs with Luxating Patellas: Help and Advice

Do you notice your dog limping when out for a walk? You may hear the kneecap popping. You might be dealing with a luxating kneecap. You can learn everything you need about this condition to help your dog walk pain-free and comfortably again.

What is a luxating patella

The patella (the dog’s kneecap) is usually nestled between the thigh and shin bones and moves up and downward as the legs flex. The patella can sometimes pop out of position, making walking hard. This is called a luxating kneecap.

What are the most common signs to look out for in your dog?

Sudden limping and difficulty walking

Hopping or Skipping

Leg stiffness

Stretch the affected leg and pop the kneecap into place

After patella replacement, walking returns to normal

An injury can cause the condition. However, some dogs are more prone to it due to their joint and limb abnormalities. It can affect large breeds but is most common in small breeds such as Yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas.

It’s good to know that mild luxating patellas aren’t painful. However, you should consult your veterinarian about how to treat it before it worsens or causes other complications.

Diagnosing Luxating Patellas

It’s important to consult your veterinarian if your dog walks abnormally. Dogs of all ages can have patellar luxation, and owners often notice the problem in puppies predisposed to it.

Vets will grade patellar degeneration based on severity.

The kneecap usually pops right back into position when the patella luxates.

The kneecap is usually in its correct position. However, it may dislocate more often and must be manually put back into place.

The patella is often out of position. The patella can be replaced manually, but it is likely to fall out again.

The dislocation of the kneecap almost always occurs. The kneecap is now extremely difficult to place back in its original position.

Dogs with grade III and IV luxation will experience more discomfort and a range of associated complications. These include cartilage damage, dog osteoarthritis, and torn cruciate ligaments (the equivalent of an ACL tear in a human). The dogs with grade III or IV luxation may experience more pain and suffer from various complications, including cartilage damage, Osteoarthritis, and torn ligaments.

Treating Luxating Patellas

A few options exist for treating a dog with an elongated knee joint. Care can start at home, depending on the severity of the condition.

Start by reducing any unnecessary pressure on your joints. If your dog’s knees are stressed, you may want to adjust their diet or ensure they have a good weight. You can give them supplements that support their muscles and joints to keep them in top shape. (P.S. Did you know that you can buy supplements? Boo-yah.)

Physical therapy may be needed to help dogs with grade 1 or 2 patellar degeneration strengthen their joints and allow them to move more freely. These treatments can delay the severity of their condition and cost between $40-$100 a session. Your vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain relievers to manage your pet’s discomfort.

Most dogs with grade III and grade IV patellar degeneration will require surgery to fix their knees. Surgery can include resetting the patella, deepening grooves in the bones, where it rests naturally, and repositioning the connecting tendons. Your dog must limit movement for six weeks after the surgery. With proper care, dogs with grades III and below have a high rate of success.

Corrective surgery costs can range between $1,000 and $5,000. Consider investing in pet insurance if the cost of corrective surgery is prohibitive or your dog may need it.

Your vet will help you find the right solution for you, no matter how severe your dog’s patellar dislocation may be. In no time, your best friend can walk around without a care.