The condition referred to as a “luxated patella” in simplest terms is a slipped kneecap. This discomforting malady is hereditary and causes the kneecap to move out of its normal position (dislocates), typically shifting towards the inside of the animal’s leg. Additionally, it normally occurs in both of the back legs but to a more severe degree in one than the other. When the dogs kneecap is positioned normally, it sits within a deep “groove” where it slides down and up in a controlled manner.
Even though the condition sounds like it warrants emergency care, it oftentimes doesn’t. However, this should not preclude having your dog tested, especially if it is a smaller breed which is more prone to the condition. Typically, the “miniature” and “toy” breeds should be tested when they are about 6 to 8 weeks old. The more reputable dog breeders are acutely aware of these things and will have the puppy tested before the puppy is allowed to go to its new home.
There are certain things to watch for such as carrying the leg, limping, and skipping as the dog runs or walks and physical testing may be the proper course of action if you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms. Additionally, x-rays of the animal’s knee and thigh bone are usually taken. Keep in mind that a Grade I luxated patella does not usually require any type of treatment, if this is the diagnosis, but the dog’s behavior should be monitored continually to see if the condition worsens.
On the other hand, Grades II, III, and IV oftentimes require surgery to correct the condition and will normally be performed by an orthopedic surgeon. Depending on the condition’s severity, costs of the operation will range between $1,500 and $3,000. Despite the fact that the condition is not considered dire, as the condition worsens, your dog becomes increasingly more uncomfortable.
Once your dog’s surgery is done, and it is time to take the animal home, your vet will recommend anti-inflammatory and pain medications to be taken for a period of 7-10 days. Additionally, it is imperative that your dog get plenty of rest and be restricted to only minimal activity. Typical rehabilitative care after surgery involves the following:
• commence physical therapy seven days after the surgery
• keep the dog on a leash when allowing them to go outside
• keep your dog from exercising, jumping, and running around as this will put pressure on the knee
• keep your pet in a small and comfortable room
You should never wait until the last minute – not if you love your pet and care about its well-being. If you allow your dog’s condition to progressively worsen, the knee capsule itself is injured and the dog appears to be bowlegged. Not addressing the issue immediately will result in torn ligaments or more severe damage to the knee. In older canines, neglecting the condition has been known to lead to diseases of the bones and the joints and may lead to the onset of arthritis.