Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Patella luxation in dogs is a very common muscular disease that affects the dog’s kneecaps or patella.

A dog’s kneecap fits right into the femur bone, and when a dog walks or moves, the kneecap will slide up and down.

When a dog has a luxating patella, this means that the kneecap has become dislocated and doesn’t slide freely in the femur.

There Are Two Types of Luxating Patella

  • Medial
  • Lateral

The only difference is essentially in the direction of where the kneecap is sliding.

If the patella is sliding on the inner part of the knee it is considered medial luxation and this is the most common.

4 Grades Of Patella Injury

Your veterinarian will be able to determine the severity of the patella injury through X-rays:

Grade 1

The patella will slide out at times but then can pop back in spontaneously. There is little pain.

Grade 2

The patella tends to slide out occasionally but can be put back into the correct position manually and your dog can feel this grade.

Grade 3

The patella is out of place most of the time but can be manually put back into the correct position but your dog will be in pain.

Grade 4

The patella is permanently out of place and can’t be put back into the correct position.

Your dog might even look bow-legged and is constantly in pain.

Common Symptoms of Patella Luxation

  • A popping sound in the dog’s kneecap
  • Abnormal walking or limping
  • Avoidance of using the affected leg
  • Constant Pain

Breeds More Susceptible To luxating Patella

Typically is an issue in smaller breeds such as:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Pekingese
  • Miniature poodles
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Yorkshire and Boston Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Papillon

Larger Breeds With Possible Patella Luxation Injuries:

  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Newfoundland
  • Great Danes
  • German Shepherds

Causes

There are a few reasons why dogs will have luxating patella issues:

Pre-Disposed Genetics

Some skeletal deformities that are present and birth (congenital) can cause luxating patellas and the most common is when the quadriceps muscles are out of alignment or the femur is not set in place properly.

Poor Nutrition

Dogs who are not fed well and/or are overweight are more prone to developing knee and joint problems due to the excess weight.

Surgical Treatment For Luxating Patellas

luxating patella in dogsThere are different forms of treatment for luxating patellas depending on the severity of the patella injury.

For the more severe or grade 3 or 4 patella issues, surgery is the most common treatment.

There are typically 3 different surgeries performed depending on where the abnormality has occurred:

#1 – Trochlear Groove Needs To Be Deepened

The groove where the patella is located needs to be deepened so it can hold the patella.

This is usually done with a trochlear wedge or blocking the trochlear.

#2 – Quadricep Realignment surgery

The purpose is to realign and move the tibial crest towards the bone to reposition the patella so that it is properly aligned within the trochlear groove.

Pins are typically used to secure the bone.

#3 – Femur Corrective surgery

The patella and the surrounding areas that are misaligned causes the femur to twist. The femur needs to be properly aligned.

Non-Surgical Treatment

If your dog has grade 1 or 2 patella luxation, surgery may not be required.

The most common treatment for luxating patellas that is non- surgical are:

Knee Braces

Dog knee braces can help keep the patella in place and help minimize your dogs’ pain.

Supplements

Many vets recommend a supplement that helps bone growth and are usually antioxidants and glucosamine.

Massage

By massaging the dog’s knee joint, you can help the patella move back to the correct position.

Your vet can give you tips on how to massage the patella which can help mobility and ease the pain.

What Is The Cost Of Luxating Patella Surgery?

When considering the cost of luxating patella surgery, it is not only the surgery that costs money but also the post-operation care.

Rehab, more vet visit follow-ups, prescription medication, and even physiotherapy will factor into the price.

The cost will typically will range from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the type of surgery required and other factors such as where you live or the grade of the patella issue.

Also, the prescription medications that are needed can add up too and could be as much $40 a month.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Luxating Patella?

Yes, but you need to insure your dog while he or she is young and before any patella issues occur.

If you have a breed that is prone to luxating patella issues, pet insurance will help offset the costs of any surgery or issues that might occur later in life.

Pet insurance can save you up you up to 90% of each bill and can help reduce the monthly price of prescriptions.

And the best insurance companies, like Healthy Paws, even include alternative treatments like hydrotherapy that can help with the costs of post-op treatment.

Complications With Luxating Patella Surgery

As with any surgery, there is always the risk of complications. Infection is typically the most common complication.

And, of course, the more advanced the surgery, the higher the chance that the knee could re-luxate and then need a second surgery might be needed.

It’s important to watch your dog and limit his or her activity after surgery for a successful recovery.

Recovery

With proper care and exercise, dogs can generally recover within 6 to 8 weeks and begin normal exercise.

Some tips to help for a successful recovery:

  • Avoid Exercise and Activity – your dog needs time to recover and keep walking to a minimum.
  • Hydrotherapy – By letting your dog swim and exercise in the water, it enables your dog to exercise without pressure on the joints.
  • Diet – Make sure your dog has a good high-quality diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Avoidance

There really is no way to avoid patella luxation in dogs, particularly for those dogs that are prone to it.

Of course, if you have a breed that is susceptible to patella luxation, make sure to keep your dog at a healthy weight and keep up with a healthy diet.

And make sure to consider pet insurance to save costs now and later in your dog’s life!

Dogs can live a long happy, life even with patella luxation and the condition has a 90% success rate of being and remaining treatable.

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