Patellar luxation or slipping/popping kneecap occurs when the groove in the femur is not deep enough
to allow the patella to move up and down in the groove as the dog moves their leg. Usually what is happening is the
muscles and ligaments end up pulling the patella out of the groove in the femur and to one side or the other of
the groove causing the patella to get stuck in this position. This can also be cause or contributed to by the attachment
of a ligament too far to the inside of the tibia thus pulling the patella out of position when the ligament is used.
You may notice your dog has a strange gate, either hiking one leg up when running or walking or stopping to bend the leg in
order to try and return the patella to normal position before continuing on. This is very uncomfortable and often
very painful for the dog.
Despite hopeful belief by some breeders this condition IS GENTIC. Meaning it WILL be passed on to
the offspring. This is a big problem that is seen in almost every breed out there at one time or another. However,
it is most common in toy and small breed dogs.
Vets grade Patellar Luxation on Severity;
Grade 1- Occurs occasionally but pops back into place quickly.
Grade 2- Occurs frequently with the dog often hiking the leg up
Graade 3- Patella is always luxated but can be manipulated by hand back into place.
Grade 4- Patella is permanetly luxated and can not be manipulated by hand back into place.
If a dog has improper nutrition, is overweight, or does not get proper excersize to develop structure, it
will compound the problem of patellar luxation. Also allowing a small breed or toy breed dog to jump to or from great
heights will prove to impact the problem of patellar luxation.
Surgery can be performed to correct this problem with varying degrees of sucess. This will all depend
upon the severity of the problem, the age of the dog, and healing ability of the dog.
During surgery the groove in the femur is made deeper by use of filing the bone or using a saw to cut the
groove. The vet will then tigten or reattach the ligaments to the proper positions and reset the patella into position.
Patellar luxation can and usually will worsen with time. The more the patella luxates and
wears at the improperly fitted groove the worse it will be and the more streched the ligaments will become, causing the patella
to luxate more frequently or to permantely luxate. The sooner surgery can be done to repair the joint the better the
outcome will be.