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Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Updated on April 12, 2013

Patellar luxation is also known as luxating patella. A number of dog breeds are susceptible to patellar luxation. The patella or the kneecap is located at the lower end of the quadriceps group muscles and attached to the tibia through the patellar tendon. This condition occurs when the kneecap or the patella moves around or dislocates outside the normal trochlear groove. This condition can cause lameness. If left untreated, the trochlear grooves will break causing more pain and will eventually lead to arthritis.

Trauma, genetics, and malformation during development can contribute patellar luxation in dogs. Smaller breeds are more prone to developing this condition than larger breeds. Since luxating patella can be inherited, afflicted dogs should never be bred. Likewise, you should not get a dog with a family history of patellar luxation.

A congenital abnormality where the dog's legs turn inwards is also another causal agent. If the trochlear groove is too shallow of if the distal attachment of the patellar ligament is medial (should be central) the patella or kneecap will luxate medially when the knee joint is bent. When this occurs, your companion friend will have a problem carrying his weight on the leg until the ligament comes back into its correct alignment. In most condition, only one knee joint may be affected but the impairment can be bilateral affecting both of the legs in fifty percent of the cases.

Patellar luxation can be categorized in 4 grades with grade 1 considered the mildest and it might be chanced upon as an incidental finding. Severe conditions of luxating patella in growing dogs could lead to disfigurement. In moderate to severe cases of luxating patella, surgical procedure should be done.

Effects of patellar luxation include:

  • Lameness
  • Limpiong
  • Sudden yelping especially when running
  • Refusal to put weight on the affected leg


Treatment of patellar luxation in dogs:

The most common treatment when your dog has patellar luxation is surgery. But treatment protocol may depend on the severity of the condition. In cases of severe patellar luxation, surgical operation is required to fix the ligaments. During the surgery, femur is reconstructed so that the groove is of perfect fit to hold the kneecap. Another effective procedure is called lateral imbrication which could be performed by tying the kneecap down in order to prevent divergence from the groove. The patella can also sometimes correct itself but the vet can also manually place the kneecap back to its normal position. Pain drugs will also be likely given to your dog. Untreated luxating patella may be significant with the progression of arthritis as well as poor mobility. Most dogs suffering from a luxating patella but with surgical correction do very well and they live a life free from any discomfort and pain.

Below is a short list of dogs that are commonly affected by patellar luxation:

  • Bulldog
  • Boston terrier
  • Bull terrier
  • Border terrier
  • Akita
  • Bengal
  • Bedlington terrier
  • Beagle
  • Basset hound
  • American Eskimo
  • American water spaniel

Luxating Patellas in a Dog


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      Johna784 3 years ago

      requirements. Recognitions pro suggestion like operative, balanced, explanatory as well as moreover exuberance thinkings about this issue to Gloria. fdgfadgbedge

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub! We boarded a dog recently who did that typical "skip" seen in dogs affected by this condition. The owners are going to get it checked out by their vet.

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      dogfond 5 years ago

      Thanks for reading my hub! Yeah most dog parents rarely know of this condition.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Very informative hub on an unfortunately common ailment for many dogs. Jumping dogs are also prone to patellar luxation. Well done hub.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.