A Primer on Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Patellar luxation is hereditary and especially common in small and toy breeds of dogs.

Affected dogs may also have other leg or joint problems. The patella (or kneecap) lies in a “track” on the front of the leg, where it functions in joint movement. It slides up and down easily as the knee bends and extends. In some dogs, the kneecap does not stay in its track. Rather, it occasionally slips (or luxates), usually to the inside of the leg.

A Primer on Patellar Luxation in Dogs

What does patellar luxation look like

Signs of patellar luxation in dogs vary depending on the problem’s severity.

Most dogs tend to skip or hop when walking or especially when running. However, some dogs may hold their leg up completely.

Damage caused by the kneecap slipping in and out of its track can eventually lead to arthritis in the knee.

Diagnosing luxating patella in dogs

Your veterinarian can generally diagnose this problem by palpating the knee joint. However, x-ray imaging can help to look for arthritis or other problems.

Veterinarians grade the problem based on severity.

  • I: they can move the patella out of the groove but it returns into position on its own
  • II: the kneecap sometimes rides out but it can be pushed back into position
  • III: the kneecap dislocates frequently but can be returned into position
  • IX: dislocated kneecap remains dislocated

Treating luxating patella

Many dogs with patellar luxation do fine without any treatment or with only occasional pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication.

Dogs with a severe problem or overweight dogs might require surgery. Getting your dog’s weight under control is vital in managing this condition in overweight dogs.

Related articles:
Canine Luxating Patella: Surgical Repair Options for Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Further reading:
Kneecap Dislocation in Dogs

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