Patellar Luxation in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment

Patellar Luxation in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment

Author WDF Staff


We all love our dogs, and we don’t want them to have any problems, but the ugly truth is that some of our favorite furry friends can develop health problems. One of the most common health concerns is luxating patella in dogs.

What exactly is patellar luxation in dogs?

The “luxation” part of the name can be best described as “out of place” or “dislocated,” and the patella is actually the kneecap. The patella is located at the end of the biggest thigh bone - the femur, and just above the knee. Patellar luxation in dogs can be described as a dislocated kneecap or a kneecap that moves out of its predefined place.

How can I know if my dog has patellar luxation?

The first step to noticing any health problem your dog might have is to keep a close eye on them. One of the worrying signs should be if you notice your dog limping or walking on three legs. Sudden loss of leg support or an unnatural sitting position with the dog’s leg placed in an abnormal position. Luckily, a luxating patella is usually detected relatively early, and there are many procedures you can take to help your dog.

Is a luxating patella painful for my dog?

The best short answer is - it can be. Patellar luxation in dogs is graded from I-IV, depending on how severe the dislocation is. Some dogs can endure this condition their whole life without the need for any serious intervention or medical procedures, while others can feel different levels of discomfort and even severe pain.

One of the biggest problems a luxating patella can cause is damage to the knee cartilage, inflammation, and tearing of the ligaments. If your dog is diagnosed with this health problem, ask your vet how severe the situation is and what would be your best options.

What breeds are prone to luxating patellas?

Nearly all dog breeds can become victims of the luxating patella. Small dog breeds are especially at risk - breeds like the Toy Poodle, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Affenpinscher, Pomeranian, etc. You can check the whole list of small dog breeds here.

Larger breeds are not safe, and they, too, can develop symptoms and problems. Luxating patella can be a nuisance, so make sure you get your dog from a responsible breeder that made all necessary tests. That is the safest way to make sure your new puppy will not develop patellar problems.


How to treat patellar luxation?

The treatment method for a luxating patella is decided based on the Grade and how much discomfort it is causing your dog. “Easier” or “lighter” cases are usually not being operated but can be managed with alternative methods.

Grade I

Grade I is the least serious condition, and the kneecap usually pops back in its place by itself. It can be managed with supplements and exercises.

Grade II

This level of patellar luxation in dogs is a bit more serious. In Grade II, the kneecap becomes dislocated a lot more often and can cause long-term knee damage. If it is a milder case, and the dog does not show signs of pain, surgery will not be recommended right away. Still, if a dog shows signs of discomfort or the patellar luxation occurred because of physical trauma, surgery will most likely be recommended.

Grade III

This grade is a severe medical issue. The dog’s kneecap is mostly outside of its predefined position, and the dog has walking problems. The dog will not use the affected leg or will use it unnaturally, and its leg will be slightly twisted. Surgery is the only way to deal with this problem.

Grade IV

This is the worst-case scenario when dealing with patellar luxation in dogs. The kneecap is permanently out of its normal position, and the bone beneath it is severely twisted. In this case, the dog is unable to use its leg. Major surgery is the only way to help your dog, and the recovery process will be extended.

What are the alternative ways to treat luxating patella in dogs?

If your dog is not experiencing severe symptoms and does not show signs of pain and discomfort, add some supplements to their diet. Supplements can greatly impact your dog’s overall health and greatly benefit the joint and bone health. Some supplements you can give to your dog are;

  • Omega 3 acid - great for preventing cartilage atrophy, anti-inflammatory
  • Methylsulfonylmethane - sulfur source, anti-inflammatory, reduces muscle spasm.
  • Bioflavonoids - (found in fruit like blueberries and veggies) antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
  • Glycosaminoglycans - anti-inflammatory, help collagen formation, great for proteoglycan synthesis.
  • Vitamin C - collagen synthesis, antioxidant
  • Mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) - stimulate deposition of proteoglycan, stabilizes cell membranes, antioxidant.
  • Vitamins B1 and B6 - great for collagen synthesis

There are also some essential elements that you will need to provide for your dog. Some of these elements are important for normal body functions. These essential elements are;

  • Sulfur - collagen production
  • Copper, Magnesium, and Zinc - collagen synthesis
  • Calcium - enzymes and proper muscle functions
  • Selenium - strong anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant, helps with osteoarthritis
  • Manganese - essential for glycosaminoglycans synthesis, collagen, and proteoglycans (things that make bone structure)

We certainly hope that you will not encounter a luxating patella in your dog, but if you do, now at least you know what you are dealing with. Keep a close eye on your dog and provide them with enough exercise and a healthy diet so it can remain active and healthy for as long as it can.


World Dog Finder team