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Luxating Patella (Trick Knee) In Dogs - Diagnosis, Surgery, and Recovery

Updated on January 29, 2016

Luxating Patella In Dogs - Diagnosis

Luxating Patella, dislocating or slipping kneecap, is diagnosed easily by an experienced vet. The dog either limps or walks straight-legged, or does a hop, skip, and normal walk as he re-locates the knee cap in its rightful groove. The vet will examine the animal's knee joint to see if the knee cap re-locates or is permanently dislocated and assign a grade of 1-4 depending on the severity of the knee cap condition.

The vet likely may confirm his diagnosis with an X-Ray to decide what corrective measures are required.

Luxating Patella In Dogs - Surgery

Most cases of luxating patella in dogs are corrected with surgery. In some cases, the dog may not be a good candidate for surgery, and the vet may recommend a specific diet to treat the condition.

The exact surgery to be performed is dependent on the reason for the luxation. As an example, in the case of Simon, the author's young Cockapoo, the pup's patellar ligament attached to the lower leg bone off center. This condition, medial luxating patella, required the surgeon to cut, move, and re-attach the piece of bone holding the patellar ligament to the lower leg bone. The bone was then held in place by a screw.

The hospital stay for Simon's surgery was a little more than a day. The cost of the hospital stay and the surgeon's and vet's fees amounted to thousands of dollars.

Luxating Patella In Dogs - Recovery

Recovering from luxating patella can take time - lots of it. For what seemed like simple, routine surgery, Simon's recovery lasted 10 weeks - not a fun time for the dog AND the owner.

What's critical about recovery is restricting the animal's activity. Imagine keeping a year old dog (Simon) contained to a pen area because he could not play with his housemate Alvin (the author'sĀ other dog). Then imagine carrying a 30-pound dog up and down stairs because he was banned from climbing them. Ten weeks is a LONG time!

If the owner fails to curb the dog's activity, bad things can happen. For example, if a recovering dog jumps off furniture and re-injures himself, another surgery is in the future.

5 years Post Luxating Patella Surgery

It's been more than 5 years since Simon had the surgery. He runs and jumps normally with no sign of luxation.

Based on my experience with dog knee surgery (Alvin recently had an ACL repair), my thought is that surgery differs from dog to dog and age plays a factor in its success. Six-year old Alvin is 5 months post surgery and still limps occasionally.

If your dog is about to have surgery, you will want to look at this article:
Ten Tips For successful Dog Surgery.

Simon after Surgery

Simon's Story - Luxating Patella

Simon's Story is an ebook describing the details of Simon's diagnosis, surgery, and recovery.

It's a must-read for owners who opt for surgery and are committed to recovery. You do want your pet to be able to run normally and live a normal doggie life, right?

There's also a section in Simon's Story for those owners who opt out of surgery, even if it's until they find the money for the corrective surgery.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great hub, very informative. Patellar luxation is common in smaller dogs as well as jumping dogs.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Had not heard of this. Thanks for the info!


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