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Pet Care Tips
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Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Patellar luxation is a common condition in dogs of all ages. It occurs when the dog’s kneecap, called the patella, dislocated from its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone (femur). This condition can be painful and restrictive for dogs, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. In this article, the Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital team is taking a closer look at the symptoms, causes and treatments of patellar luxation.

The Risks of Patellar Luxation

When the patella is dislocated from the femur, it can only be returned to its natural position once the quadriceps muscles in the hind legs are relaxed and lengthened – this is why many dogs with the condition hold their hind legs out for minutes at a time.

Smaller dogs are at a higher risk of kneecap dislocation, and female dogs are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from it. Watch out for the following symptoms to discover whether your dog has the condition.

The symptoms of patellar luxation include:

  • Abnormal movement in the hind limbs
  • Gradual or sudden lameness in limbs
  • Sudden pain when running
  • Holding limbs out straight
  • Bent or wide-legged posture

What Causes Patellar Luxation in Dogs?

Patellar luxation is typically caused by a genetic defect or sudden trauma to the area. Dogs who are born with the defect will begin showing signs of kneecap dislocation at approximately 4 months of age.

Diagnosing and Treating Patellar Luxation

At Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital, we use a range of methods to diagnose patellar luxation including touching the area to feel the kneecap’s mobility. We may use top-view and side-view x-rays to see if the bones in the leg have twisted or bent. We may also take a fluid sample from the joint and analyse it to check for increased mononuclear cells in the synovial fluid.

Most vets will recommend surgery as the treatment of choice for severe patellar luxation because medical treatment has had little success. Surgery works to correct the structure and movement of the kneecap – 90% of surgeries have been successful in curing the condition! The two surgical options are:

  1. Fastening the kneecap to the outside of the bone so it cannot slide
  2. Deepening the groove of the thighbone so that it can hold the kneecap

Managing Your Dog’s Patellar Luxation

After a successful surgery, you will need to exercise your dog slowly for one month and prevent them from jumping as much as possible. Check back with your vet every year to ensure the problem doesn’t reoccur.

Contact Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital for Treatment

Get in touch with the team at Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital to have your dog examined for patellar luxation. You can make an appointment by calling (02) 9521 6422 or contacting us online.


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