Luxating patella in dogs is a painful knee condition; it is also known as trick knee and can come on rather suddenly. This oft-congenital condition is more common in small and miniature breeds and usually becomes prominent in the age of 3 to 4 years. Lhasa Apso, Bichon Frisse and Toy Poodles are known to suffer from this problem. Certain cat breeds (such as the Domestic Shorthair) are also known to get it. If your dog has this painful disease, this guide will help you with a few ways to manage it.
What is Luxating Patella in dogs?
One moment your dog seems happy and playful; the next, he is walking with a limp with either one or both of the back knees popped out of the joint. The symptoms vary from pet to pet: in some dogs, the condition can be quite painful while in others, the displacement does not seem to be too much of a bother. The kneecap sometimes moves medially or there can be a lateral displacement. Your vet might palpate the knee to diagnose luxating patella. Sometimes, your dog may need X rays.
- It is usually a congenital condition affecting small and toy breeds like Spitzes, Pomeranians, Chihuahua, Lhasa apsos etc.
- The condition is more common in female dogs; they are affected by luxating patellas nearly 1.5 times as compared to male dogs.
- Traumatic injuries can also cause this painful condition.
Symptoms of Patella Luxation in dogs
- Some dogs with this condition tend to limp; they try to change their position several times while walking to relieve the soreness.
- A dog with this condition might extend its leg outwards but could face difficulty while getting it back to original position.
- Some dogs hold up their hind leg to relieve pain.
- Arthritis can sometimes set in these pets causing permanent swelling and limited mobility.
Hind leg lameness is a symptom of various diseases and not just patella luxation. For example, conditions like hip dysplasia, Perthe’s disease, fractures, ruptured fragments and torn ligaments could also cause above symptoms. So always seek the opinion of a vet when it comes to diagnosing the issue.
Grades of luxating patella in dogs
The condition comes in 2 different stages or levels: minor and severe. In minor cases, the knee cap keeps popping in and out of place while in serious cases, the kneecap is permanently luxated. Without corrective surgery, the issue can worsen, develop into arthritis and become very painful for your dog. It can hamper with his ability to walk or move properly and can harm his quality of life.
Luxating patella surgery
Corrective surgery involves deepening the groove or trochlea in which the kneecap sits. Cost of the surgery depends on the area you live in but usually ranges within the $1500 and $3000 bracket per knee. Insurance plans like Pet Plan might cover this type of surgery. Success rate of the luxating patella surgery in dogs is quite (high up to 90%) and can vastly improve their quality of life. However, in some cases, relapse may occur.
Younger dogs always heal faster so if you decide to go in for luxating patella surgery for your dog, do so in the early stages or as advised by your vet. For older pets, the recovery time can be longer. Make sure your buddy is comfortable. Your vet will give you detailed instructions about post operative care. Keep your dog warm and feed him nutritious meals. In case your pet needs to be confined for long duration, give him some KONG toys or chews to keep him occupied. Always consult your vet before administering any herbs or home remedies. Remember that when a dog is not well, s/he tends to do things that are completely out of character. So keep an eye out on your pet until it recovers completely. For small or toy breeds, you can use a sling to carry your pet with you. You can easily buy a sling or make one at home. The movement will even lull your pet to sleep.
Luxating patella massage can relieve some of the pain and compensatory muscle tension resulting from the condition. Massage and physical therapy are especially more beneficial in mild cases as they help stabilize the joint. For severe cases, especially in larger and heavier dogs, treatment is not quite so straightforward. Short stretching sessions can be helpful and you could do following stretches:
- Warm up significantly before stretching. Ideal time is after a short walk if your pet is up to it.
- Stretch your pet’s extremities slowly to achieve full range of motion being careful not to overstretch.
- Ideally, target one joint at a time. Hold one hand above the joint to stabilize and one hand below. Move the joint through its comfortable and available full range of motion.
- Stretch safely and release the stretch by guiding the limbs all the way back to the neutral position.
Short and frequent stretching sessions are more beneficial but make sure you only stretch until there is a reaction that indicates discomfort. Stay focused on how your dog reacts. Use gentle stroking over the entire limb at the end of each session to soothe the nerves.
Can you breed a dog with patella luxation
The disease is hereditary; which means it can be passed down from parents to offspring. Hence it is not advisable to breed a dog with luxating patella.
Products and supplements for dogs with luxating patellas
Knee support sleeves or braces
You can use neoprene braces or knee sleeves that snugly fit around your dog’s knee joint. This will stabilize the joint. If you decide to order the brace online, measure your dog’s leg just above and below the knee and also the circumference around its abdomen. Always talk to the company reps before ordering, so that you can ensure proper fit. Dog owners have seen great results with these braces. They ensure pain free movement and mobility and your pet can even wear it all day long. Please make sure you work with the seller and order the right fit.
Joint support supplements
Some joint support pills can help your pet in the early stages of Luxating patella. These pills provide gentle pain relief and usually have joint support ingredients like anti-inflammatory turmeric, glucosamine and chondroitin. Please check out my article to know what Glucosamine can do for your dog. Many pet owners have tried these supplements that have vastly improved their pet’s quality of life. I have discussed scientific research on Glucosamine as well as exact dosage to give your pet in the article mentioned above.