"Oh my gosh... my dog was fine running around and all of a sudden he was stopped in his tracks and was holding up his leg. Then just as suddenly he lowers his leg and starts to walk normally again. What is wrong?" Your dog could be suffering from luxating patella.
What is it and who can have the condition?
The kneecap moves up and down in a groove and the patella ridges hold the kneecap in place. Luxating patella is when the knee cap easily moves out of position. Any dog can have luxating patella. It may be caused from having a very flat patella ridge (genetically predisposed in some breed) or in larger/giant breeds caused by problems with another joint such as the hip (hip dysplasia) or ankle, causing a ergonomic change, thus leading to luxating patella.
Some breeds that are more genetic predisposed:
- Miniature and toy Poodles
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Boston Terriers
Grades of Luxating Patella
Kneecap pops out intermittently, but can be popped right back in (usually by itself). The pet does not experience pain as a Grade 1
The knee is less stable and pops out of place and doesn't always pop back in automatically. Manual manipulation is usually required. Pet can begin to have pain.
The kneecap sits outside the groove most of the time, can be positioned back, but will pop right back out. The pet will be in persistent pain and arthritic changes.
This is the worst-case scenario, the knee cap is outside the groove all the time and will not stay in the groove when popped back in. The dog will have a hard time walking and will suffer from pain, arthritis and degenerative joint disease. They often will stand knock-knees and toes turned inward.
Treating the Condition
Being proactive is key , no matter how young or old, to prevent surgery ( which carries risks and a difficult recovery) and a diminished quality of life for your dog.
- Help your dog maintain a healthy body weight.
- Keep your pet moving- It is important to exercise your pet regularly to maintain muscle tone that will help protect the knee joint.
- Give your dog joint support supplements as soon as the problem is observed. Early start of supplements can help prevent problems later on. The Joint Support Kit and Canine Comfort Natural Pain Relief are especially helpful for this condition..
- Chiropractic and acupuncture treatments may help
- Feed your dog an anti-inflammatory diet using fresh foods
If the quality of life of your dog is diminished, pain is constant and the non-surgical options have not helped, surgery should be considered. Supplements should still be continued after surgery to strengthen the joints and ligaments.