Luxating Patella in Dogs: Diagnosis, Treatment & More

What is a Luxating Patella?

A luxating patella is a patella kneecap that pops out of its normal location. If you’ve ever seen your dog skip or stutter step on three legs only to return to a normal gait, then your dog might be affected by this condition.

What Causes a Patellar Luxation?

The patella ligament is responsible for straightening and bending the knee when the thigh muscle contracts or lengthens. The patella slides up and down the trochaer groove during this motion to help guide the patella ligament.

The luxation occurs when the patella isn’t sitting in the center, ala a bowlegged dog. Often, the patella is sitting too far forward or on the inner side of the leg, which can cause the base of the femur to wear down. Once the femur wears, the patella is more prone to dislocation.

In many toy and small dog breeds, there is a heretic and genetic predisposition for this condition.

How Severe is a Luxating Patella?

There are four grades of this condition; the higher the grade, the more severe the condition.

Grade 1: The patella luxates when you apply pressure on the patella and goes back in when the pressure is released.

Grade 2: The patella dislocates on its own and cannot relocate until the leg is hyperextended and rotated to guide the patella back in place.

Grade 3: The patella is out of its original position the majority of the time. The patella can still be manually put back in.

Grade 4: The patella is out of its original position permanently. The patella cannot be manually repositioned.

Can This Condition Cause Long Term Issues?

While some dogs can deal with a lower grade luxating patella for years or for their entire lives, more severe grades can cause other issues. The most predominant by-product issue that occurs is a torn cruciate ligament.

Can a Luxating Patella Be Fixed?

The short answer here is, yes. For the majority of Grade 1 diagnosis, surgery can be avoided so long as persistent issues with the luxating patella are limited. For Grade 2-4, the issue is surgically repaired.

The recovery from this surgery is relatively quick. A properly planned and executed post-op pain management program will help with the recovery.

Okay, So What's The Prognosis?

If the surgery is performed before arthritis has developed on this leg or another one, then you’re in good shape. The dog should make a full recovery. In the event that arthritis has formed, then a recurrence on this leg or pain in other legs will most likely occur.

Preventative care can be the best course of action to help with discomfort and stunt the progression of arthritis. Anti-inflammatories, joint supplements and/or therapeutic mobility diets will be the most likely care for this condition. A weight reduction program will help alleviate some pressure on the joints. Physiotherapy will set up your dog best post-op.