Luxating patella in dogs

Luxating patella in dogs

What is Luxating patella?

The term patella might sound strange, but it is only another name for the knee cap of your dog. In order to make it possible for the patella to glide up and down, the femur is equipped with a groove. This groove consists of two bony ridges. In some dogs, these two bony ridges are not as big as they should be, and this leads to a groove that is too shallow. This makes it possible for the patella to luxate, i.e. to jump out of the groove sideways. When this happens, the leg of the dog will lock up and the dog will keep it off the ground.

Why is the groove too shallow?

Trauma as well as malformation can cause the bony ridges to be less prominent, which leads to a groove that is too shallow. 

Symptoms of Luxating patella in dogs

Dogs showing symptoms of Luxating patella are normally middle-aged. The dog owner can for instance notice how the dog suddenly stops running around and cries or yelps out in pain. The affected leg will be extended rearward and it will be impossible for the dog to return it to its normal position for a while. Within short, the leg will however flex back, and the dog will appear perfectly normal again. 

Some dogs with Luxating patella develops much more serious symptoms, which can include holding up the affected leg for several days and limping around on three legs. The dog can also show symptoms of serious discomfort.
In some cases, the dog will suffer from Luxating patella on both hind legs. Such a dog may alter its entire posture, e.g. by holding its rear legs farther out from the body than normally. Some dogs will be unable to use their hind legs and might attempt to move around by balancing on the front legs (like a circus dog).  

Luxating patella treatment for dogs

Without adequate treatment, the groove will become more and more shallow, and this will cause increasing lameness in the dog. Arthritis will affect the joint and can lead to a knee that is permanently swollen. Many dogs with Luxating patella will eventually suffer from poor mobility in the knee. Consulting a veterinarian while the problem is still in an early stage is therefore important.

Surgical treatment of Luxating patella in dogs is much more common than medical therapy. It should however be noted that surgical treatment may not be the best choice of treatment for your particular dog; the proper treatment for Luxating patella varies from dog to dog.

Surgery can be used to change the affected structures as well as the movement of the patella in your dog. A surgeon can deepen the groove at the base of the femur to make it more fitting for the knee cap. The knee cap can also be tied down at the outside to decrease the risk of it deviating towards the inside. The surgeon can also cut off the bony protuberance located at the place where the quadriceps tendon attaches to the tibia, and the re-attach the bony protuberance in a more lateral position.

Skeletal and muscular disorders in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine hip dysplasia
Congenital vertebral anomalies in dogs
Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteopathy in dogs
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in dogs
Luxating patella in dogs
Masticatory muscle myositis in dogs
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) and Extraocular Myositis (EOM) in dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs
Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs
Panosteitis in dogs
Spondylosis in dogs