Luxating Patella: A Common Knee Problem in Dogs

  • 18/05/2014

Most dogs enjoy running and playing outdoors; unfortunately, they are often slowed down by knee problems. A dog's knee is similar to a human's. The most common ligament that gets torn in most dogs is known as cranial cruciate ligament; thus resulting to lameness, pain, and instability of the joint. Generally, these knee problems do not bother most of the dogs. A cry of pain, a short episode of lameness, and in a few minutes or hours, the pooch is back to his old, active self.

The most common knee problem in dogs is known as luxating patella. This knee condition occurs when the structures that make up your dog's knees are misaligned or misshapen. When he is suffering from this condition, he has an out-of-place patella which is a small bone that jumps out of the normal grove when he is moving. In most cases, the patella jumps out of this original tract to the inside of the dog's knee.

Dog Breeds That Are Commonly Affected By Luxating Patella

Some breeds of dog are more severely affected by this knee problem than others. This condition may cause the dog some discomfort and pain. The dogs that have this knee condition on both their hind legs may even alter their posture and the way they walk. For instance, the pooch might drop his hindquarters and hold his rear legs further from his body as he walks. Some even try to walk through their front legs, just like in a circus act. The breeds that are commonly affected by this knee problem are smaller breeds, such as miniature and toy poodles and Pomeranians. Breeds with short legs, such as dachshund and basset hounds are also vulnerable to this knee problem.

What Are The Common Symptoms?

This knee problem is usually observed in pooches less than two years old. Some of the symptoms may range from mild to severe, such as temporary or occasional lameness with a hopping motion. For instance, you may have heard your dog cry out in pain while he is running or playing. Your pooch might hold the leg permanently off the ground. If both of his legs are affected by this problem, the dog may crouch and may appear bow legged. He may also start walking on his forelegs with the hind leg held completely above the ground.

Treatment for Luxating Patella

This condition is usually diagnosed by a veterinarian through a gentle thumb pressure, and the condition will be assigned a grade depending on the severity of the condition.

  • Grade 1 is the least severe condition wherein the knee cap easily slips back into place on its own.
  • Grade 2 is when the pooch has less stable knees, but the kneecap can be massaged back into place.
  • Grade 3 is the condition wherein the problem is more pronounced or when the dog experiences chronic pain and other arthritic changes.
  • Grade 4 is the condition in which the kneecap is stuck and fixed outside its normal position in the grove of the femur.

Surgery is not always necessary for this knee problem; however, if the condition is severe, a surgery known as "medical luxating patella repair" can be performed.

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