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Patellar Luxation in Dogs - My Dog Midnight's Knee Surgery

Updated on February 3, 2013

My Dog Midnight's Knee Surgery

This is my dog Midnight who is also referred to more frequently as Arfy. He is a Miniature Pinscher/Dachshund mix and weighs just over 10 pounds. Midnight is currently 5 years old. He had to have surgery on both of his legs due to a luxating patella, or dislocated kneecap, when he was a little over a year old.

The entire experience of the idea of surgery, the surgery itself, and then caring for a dog who has had any type of surgery is not fun or easy. Even though it was such a horrible experience, he was quite the trooper and still looked cute as can be all the while. Not only did I decide to share the picture and story of Midnight's surgery because the picture was just too darn cute, but also to share our experience with other dog owners or those thinking of getting a dog so you can be familiar with a common problem dogs can have.

All photos contained on this page are my own personal images.

A Good Dog Bed

Multipet Super Soft Donut Yap Dog Bed, Measures 24 Inches for Small Dogs
Multipet Super Soft Donut Yap Dog Bed, Measures 24 Inches for Small Dogs

When Midnight had his surgery I went out and bought him a new dog bed. I wanted to make sure he had a place of his own that was soft where he could lay around and recover. His bed is very similar to this one and is super soft and plush. Both of my dogs really seem to enjoy it.


What is a Luxating Patella?

Patellar luxation is when the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of place. A dogs kneecaps are located on its hind legs, so essentially, the kneecap on one or both of the dogs hind legs dislocates. Typically the dogs patella dislocates due to the groove where the kneecap sits not being deep enough causing the kneecap to easily slip in and out of place or dislocate.

Patellar luxation is common in dogs, especially small breed dogs and miniature breeds. Some of the breeds that seem to be predisposed to patellar luxation are miniature and toy Poodles, Maltese, Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Patterdale Terrier, Chihuahuas, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillons, Boston Terriers, Teddy Roosevelt Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers.

A luxating patella is usually a congenital defect (meaning it existed at birth), but it can also be inherited or caused by obesity. Very rarely is a luxating patella caused from blunt trauma. There are different degrees of a luxating patella, which are measured by grades with I being the most mild case and IV being the worst. Patellar luxation with grades of II or higher require surgery to fix, and take it from my own personal experience, it is not cheap to fix. Even if your dog has a luxating patella, some dogs show no signs at all or they may show only mild signs, such as a slight limp from time to time. In more severe cases, such as Midnights, he could barely walk on his right rear leg and when he did he had a severe limp.

Midnight's Knee Surgery

My Dog Midnight After Knee Surgery
My Dog Midnight After Knee Surgery

When Midnight was a little over a year old he was jumping and playing and let out a horrible cry that sounded like a scream. I picked him up and after about 30 seconds he stopped. I didn't know what had happened, but he went back to walking like normal so I didn't think much of it.

A few weeks later, on what happened to be the morning of Thanksgiving, he was running in the house, and again let out the same horrible cry. This time, after he stopped crying he began to limp on his leg. I felt so bad and I was ready to ditch cooking Thanksgiving dinner and to rush him into the vet even though I knew it would mean an emergency vet visit being that it was Thanksgiving. Since he stopped crying I thought I would watch him and if it happened again that day I would take him in, otherwise, the visit could wait until the next day.

I took him on several walks that day and noticed that he was limping pretty badly, and at many times he was lifting the leg completely up and not using it at all even though there was no more crying associated with it. So, first thing the next morning I took him into the vet. They did an X-ray and diagnosed him with a luxating patella on his right rear leg. They said they could perform the surgery there, but suggested that I take him to a veterinary specialist, so that is what I did.

Upon visiting the specialist, they not only looked at and tested his right knee, but also tested his left knee as well. They said that the left knee was not as severe as the right, but showed me how the kneecap on Midnight's left knee slid easily out of place as well. He explained that the surgery would entail deepening the grove where the patella sits and then repositioning and reattaching the ligaments of the knee and putting small screws in to hold everything in place. The vet left it up to me to decide whether to do the surgery on just the one knee or on both, but told me that it was very likely that the left knee would probably get to the point that the right was and eventually need surgery. Since it was less expensive to have both knees done at once, and also only one recovery period, I opted to have them both done.

A few days later Midnight was scheduled for surgery. He had to stay the night for two nights as a result of his size and how long it was taking him to come out of the anesthesia and respond to the pain medication. When I picked him up from the vet, this is what he looked like. He had a cone on his head to prevent him from biting or licking at his legs, and both of his legs were wrapped in bandages. They also gave him a little bandana, and on top of that, poor Midnight had to have his butt and legs shaved, so needless to say, he had quite the goofy haircut.

Midnight After Knee Surgery
Midnight After Knee Surgery

After surgery, Midnight was to be kept from jumping and running around for 6 weeks. If you have a small dog, then you know how hard it is to keep them from running or jumping. He was allowed to be taken out on a short walk to go to the bathroom a couple of times a day, but I had to wrap his legs in plastic bags to keep the bandages clean and dry.

About a week after surgery he had his bandages and stitches removed, but he still wasn't supposed to lick the area until it fully healed to prevent infection. It has now been about 2 1/2 years since his surgery and he walks and plays as he did before the surgery. Every once in a while when we are on a walk I will notice a slight hitch in his step on the right leg, but I can honestly say I am glad I opted for the surgery.

One word of advice I have for anyone considering getting a dog, especially a small breed dog, is to look into pet insurance. I know it may sound silly, but you have no idea how much money I have spent on my two small dogs for vet bills related to this surgery and other problems.

Midnight Walking After Surgery
Midnight Walking After Surgery

Here is Midnight walking like normal after recovering. Even though we live in Las Vegas, he go the rare opportunity to see and play in the snow.

Luxating Patella in Dogs

This is not a video of Midnight, but this is exactly what happened to Midnight and how he would walk around prior to surgery.

This Lens Was Blessed by SquidAngels - Thank you for the blessings!

Has Your Pet Ever Had to Have Surgery?

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    • profile image


      13 months ago

      I certainly hope that your dog is recovering. My 76 lb. - 1 yr. old border collie/lab mix recently had pins put in one knee. It was heartbreaking to see Toby go thru such a terrible thing but he recovered amazingly well. However, just 6 wks. later when his left knee was almost fully healed, his right knee began doing the same thing. I guess the extra strain was just too much for it. I wish I had known to do both knees at once. He cannot put his full weight on the recovering knee, so how can I do surgery on the other one? Has anyone tried therapy and knee braces?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @bushaex: We send cudos, blessings, and neverending amazement that you made it thru both legs recoop. Buster Brown chi had surgery his one leg's knee on Tues 4/16.He is eating and drinking regularly just today. He has not wanted to drink water. We have finger scooped/dripped it into mouth. And added low sodium broth to his food, etc. Last night he asked for water! It's now going forward,! Thank you for being there.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @anonymous: Good luck. Ours just had the kneecap surg., re done, I think because we let him resume chasing ball inside around 4 wks, and as u know they so want to play, it is tough. For best resuls..I advise a comfy harness with leash on, and go 16 weeks before chase ball activities. Do not let him horse around with other can't have much fu n! Either that, or get ready for the second round like us. Sorry, its hard to have to keep your chi down.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My lil chihuahua is get this surgery tomorrow and I am so scared for her. Your story had a gret ending. I hope my does too!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      No, never experienced that challenge. You give a lovely presentation.

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 

      6 years ago

      congrats on your giant-squid status...a great job you did

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      6 years ago from GRENADA

      Congratulations on your new Giant Squid status!!!

    • gatornic15 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @bikerministry: Getting him to lay around was not easy. The first couple of days he did because of the medication and I think it was still painful. He couldn't really get around too quickly anyway because both of his legs were bandaged, but the hardest thing was keeping him away from the stairs in our house. Hopefully yours has strong knees and you won't have to go through the same thing.

    • gatornic15 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @HalloweenRecipes: I can't imagine trying to keep a 130 pound dog immobile, let alone move it around! At least you were able to laugh about it =)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Our lab has a bad leg right now and I fear we might have a surgical situation in the future. Not a fun thing to contemplate. Your little guy is a trooper for sure! So glad the surgery was successful!

    • bikerministry profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh, thank you for this. We have a new Min Pin puppy and I hate to see these pitiful pictures. How did you get him to lay around in recovery? Bet you had to hold him a lot. We'll be watching those knees for sure!! Blessings.

    • HalloweenRecipes profile image


      6 years ago

      My daughter's Newfie, Sammy, had to have cruciate ligaments surgery on both legs but we had to do it one at a time. We had to put a sling around his belly and carry his back legs when we let him out of the crate to go outside. If he ran around on it he would have destroyed any good the surgery did. Well, the first couple days weren't too bad, but after a week or more of lugging this 130 pound dog around, we were tired! Then we turned around and had to do it all again, plus we had to be even more careful with the second knee since the first was still not completely healed. We used to laugh so hard it took all our strength not to fall down and drop him! The things you do for love!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for this.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes and I'm glad Midnight came through it alright. Good advice about pet insurance.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 

      6 years ago from Valencia, California

      Great lens, love all the contents, well done, thanks for sharing..woof woof ;)

    • norma-holt profile image


      6 years ago

      Poor midnight. I know how frustrating those collars are for little dogs. So pleased to hear he is over it all now and happy again, Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreem 2012-2 and also on Angel Blessings for Dogs on Squidoo. Hugs

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      I am still vicariously recovering from Midnight's surgery! SquidAngel Blessings.

    • RedShoesGirl profile image


      6 years ago

      My dog had two: once for Sticker tumor, and second for Pyometra. My tomcat had a surgery for urolithiasis. All the best for Midnight.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awww... he looks like he needs a hug. Wonderful work with this lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes and he was very upset about the cone of shame!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Our dog does have a luxating patella in one leg. But so far she hasn't had to have an operation. Great info!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      That is good advice about getting pet insurance... in 40 years of pet ownership I have never done so, and I must admit that getting those occasional $500 - $800 bills for basic surgery are a real pain. I probably only spend about $1,000 a year on vet bills, but they do sting the old Budget a bit! And I'm sure that the surgery you describe here would have cost much more for you.

      I'm so glad that Midnight had such great results!

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh..hope everything will be alright soon, Blessing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Poor little guy.


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