You and your Toy Poodle is at the peak of your excitement playing fetch when suddenly, Fluffy yelps in pain, pulls his one leg off the ground and limps in agony. But after around ten agonizing minutes, he is back to normal and again on-the-go to play with you. This seems some sort of a joke but this is not something to be taken for granted because your dog is definitely suffering from knee joint abnormality.
Luxating patella is one of the most common knee joint abnormalities in dogs. Also called trick knee, subluxation of patella or floating patella, luxating patella is a condition in which the patella or kneecap dislocates and moves out of its normal location. This patella or kneecap should be located in the center of the knee joint but moves out of place because of traumatic injury or congenital deformities. Sometimes, only one knee is involved, but this disease can affect both knees. Toy and miniature dog breeds especially Toy Poodles are more likely to develop luxating patella. This disease usually develops in dogs between four to six months old but may also affect new born puppies.
The signs of the disease vary depending on the severity of the condition. Affected dogs usually exhibit lameness, intermittent skipping gait, pain and stiffness of the hind limb. A dog affected with luxating patella may show only one or all signs. Some can tolerate the problem for many years, some for all their lives.
Luxating patella should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent osteoarthritis from developing. This weakness in the knee may also result to other injuries such as torn cruciate ligaments. In order for the disease to be treated, the four grades of patellar luxation must be determined. The treatment is then prescribed based on the diagnostic grade. Grades III and IV, and most grade II cases are treated surgically. During the surgery, the alignment problem is corrected, the groove in the femur is deepened so the patella will stay in place (sulcoplasty) and the capsule around the joint is tightened.
Ten to fourteen days after the surgery, your pet should be touching the toes to the ground and should be using the limb well after two to three months. To help your dog recover after the surgery, additional help can be given with the use of pet ramps, stairs or steps.