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Luxating patella in dogs

Luxating patella in dogs, symptoms, causes and surgery for keencap dislocation in dogs

The kneecap is a bone that is called the “patella”.

When the kneecap slips or is dislocated, it is known as a “patellar luxation”. This kind of injury is more common among miniature breeds – a luxating patella in Chihuahas is quite frequent problem encountered by veterinarians. There are two types of patella luxations, and of these, a medial luxating patella in dogs is the most common. In this type, the kneecap slips to the inside of the leg.

If the kneecap slips to the outside, it is known as a lateral luxation. Patellar luxation in dogs is among the most common knee problems, however it fortunately does not lead to any lasting damage in most cases. The best option is surgery, and this usually solves the problem permanently, as long as the proper precautions are taken during the recovery period.

As you would expect, a luxating patella in dogs will cause limping.

The dog may keep the affected leg (hind leg) raised and not use it at all, or else it may use all four limbs but walk with an abnormal gait. The affected limb may also appear stiff. There is usually no pain – pain tends to occur only at the moment when the kneecap slips. Afterwards, there may only be some discomfort and the dog will be unable to use the leg normally.

Kneecap dislocation in dogs is usually the result of a genetic problem. Sometimes the problem will manifest itself on its own, while the dog is still a puppy. Luxating patella in puppies is usually a sign that the joint is malformed due to genetic reasons. At other times, the dog may be predisposed to such a problem, and the problem may only occur as a result of some trauma to the joint. Trauma to the joint could of course cause a patellar luxation in just about any dog.

Surgery is recommended in most cases of patellar luxation. The surgery is meant to hold the kneecap in place more securely, so that it does not slip again. Proper care must be taken after surgery to ensure that the joint heals properly. In larger breeds, the chances of the problem recurring are high, so your vet might recommend an additional surgical procedure. On the other hand, surgery is sometimes not recommended. It is possible to slip a luxating patella back into place with your hands, and this is something your vet could show you.

  Submitted on November 10, 2009  

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