Luxating Patella - what to do?

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.

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When's the walk?
Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 7:47am PST 
So, on Tuesday, I took Penny to the Dog Park. She ran and ran and ran and had a blast. She also drank some of the pond water there and had an upset stomach for a couple days. I was worried about that...until last night. I got home from work and she was limping and not putting any weight on her left rear leg. I watched her for a little while and she was limping a little bit and then if I walked her on a leash she'd put full weight on the leg and walk fine. It seemed like the more she rested, the pain would return when she got up. I took her to the emergency vet last night to make sure it wasn't something serious - like a broken bone- and the vet there diagnosed her with a luxating patella in the left rear-knee. She said maybe a grade 2. She gave Penny a pain medication injection and sent her home with a prescription of Tramadol for the next 2 weeks. She did indicate that Penny might need surgery to fix it. Penny is 18 months old and is healthy - she's about 3-4 lbs overweight, so I know that she needs to drop those lbs. Currently, she takes 1/2 of a gloco-flex pill a day and has for the last 8 months. I guess I'm just wondering if surgery is an absolute MUST? When she got up today, she limped for a few steps and when I took her out to go potty, she walked fine, she'd skip for a step or two, but never seemed to be bothered too badly. Is it something that I can just watch and might get better with some restrictions (rest, no running, stairs, etc). If Penny were your dog, what would you do? I'd hate to put her under to fix something that can be treated without surgery. Any advice or been-there-done-that stories would be great. Right now, she's resting at home in her kennel.
Mishka &- Luna

Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 8:12am PST 
I would definitely do surgery if penny was my dog. Basically the knee (patella) has slipped out of the groove it's suppose to be in. This is a DISLOCATION of the KNEE. Veterinarians call the luxating patella "trick knee" because one minute the dog is limping or walking/running on 3 legs and the next minute they're walking normal. Luxating patellas are more often seen in toy breeds. A very small percentage of dogs are able to put the patella back into place without surgery but that is a very low number of cases. The only way a dog seems to recover 100% is by surgery because the doctors have to reconstruct the ligaments that hold the knee in place. After surgery they may have you put your dog through physical therapy (if that is available in your area). I hope this information helps you out. And I hope you come to the best decision for penny. Lots of luck. wishes

Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 9:45am PST 
Maggie has grade 3 LP in both back legs. It has only really given her trouble one time (when she was fighting her big sister and lost). Our vet said the only way to fix it is surgery. He gave her a shot, gave us some meds for her, and told us to rest it for a couple weeks. He also said we could try waiting to see if the problem becomes chronic or if she appears to be in pain. If so, then we should have surgery. We have decided to wait and see how she does. So far, she's only really had trouble that one time. I can feel the knee caps move back and forth if I pick her leg up and move the leg around, but it really doesn't seem to bother her. At this point in time we are waiting it out. If she is in pain and the problem gets worse, then we will look into surgery. But not until then. Our vet did say that they usually don't require surgery until they are grade 3-4 though. You need to do what is right for you and for your dog though. If it is a big problem or causes considerable pain, you should check into surgery. Good luck! hug

Edited by author Fri Oct 12, '12 9:46am PST



dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 9:55am PST 
there are multiple reasons which causes knees to slip - weak muscles that don't hold the knee in, shallow groves, incorrect alignment of the tibia, or a combination. these things will not fix themselves over time.

if you plan to be active with your dog i would go with the surgery.

Born to- Arrrrroooooooo!
Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 12:02pm PST 
I heard the same thing that Maggie did with regards to when surgery is suggested. Waiting until it's a grade 3 or 4. Basically, how active are you, how much are you limping, in pain, on medication a lot? If I'm hearing you right, this is the first time it's happened (with the pain?). I would give the medications time to work and get the inflammation down. It sounds like your vet is giving you sound advice.

I have a grade 1...I skip from time to time but other than that I don't have or show that I'm in any kind of pain.

It sounds like your vet is giving you sound advice so I would stick with them. Good luck and I hope the pain medication gets you back to feeling better again!

When's the walk?
Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 1:20pm PST 
Thanks everyone for your advise and words of wisdom. I think for now, I will wait and see how she reacts to the pain meds. This is the first time this has happened with her, so it was a little frightening!
She's crated during the day while I'm at work, so she's getting rest and staying off of it right now. She's not a super active dog - walks around the subdivision and occasional trips to the dog park, so I might see how this goes. If it would progress and be painful all the time for her, I wouldn't second guess having surgery to fix it. Thanks again - I'll keep an eye on her this weekend and baby her a lot and hope she starts feeling better.

Im a lean, mean,- cuddling machine
Barked: Fri Oct 12, '12 3:26pm PST 
Radley has luxating patellas. Its pretty common in smaller dogs. I would only recommend surgery if it really affects your dog. Radley gets stiff very rarely if he has been overly active. Other then that you can't really tell. Definitely get those extra pounds off though. I think one reason Rad doesn't really have issues is I keep him thin. Don't let her over do the exercise either. Instead of letting her just run and run and run, stop her before she gets to the point where you think shes over done it. If she has a stiff day give her a tramadol. Unless she is seriously hindered by it I wouldnt make too much of it.

Member Since
Barked: Sat Oct 13, '12 4:46am PST 
My little Cav has a grade 4 in her left leg and a grade 2 in her right. My vet said that most vets won't do the surgery unless the dog is in obvious pain all the time (he was of course speaking to smaller dogs.)
He told me that her left leg stabilized on it's own and the right leg will do the same. He did suggest Glucosamine,which has helped Lucy a lot. He told me to let her be a normal dog, running, jumping is fine. Eventually the knee with become worn down and pop in and out until finally it will stay out, but the leg will be fine, unless something unforeseen happen.

So unless you dog is in constant pain surgery isn't really necessary. Of course keeping your dog a healthy weight is vital.

The Tinydog
Barked: Sat Oct 13, '12 8:26am PST 
Mega has a luxating patella, and I don't plan to do surgery on it unless it becomes a chronic problem. Right now, it only presents an occasional problem while walking up and down stairs. We keep her weight low, and keep her active. The vet said she was still fine to jump and do agility. The less weight the dog has to carry around on the knee the better, and the more muscle you keep in the leg the better.

Surf's up, let's- go to the beach!
Barked: Sat Oct 13, '12 3:13pm PST 
3-4 lbs. is a lot of excess weight for a small dog. If you get the excess weight off, the patella problem is likely to resolve itself. A friend of mine has 3 small dogs & all of them had the same problem. She put them on a diet & a few months later the limping was a thing of the past. None of them had surgery & have been fine for the past 6 years.
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