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You are taking a walk with your delightful puppy when, all of a sudden, he lifts one hind leg up in the air and then limps a bit.
This gets you concerned and as you try to figure things out, the pup touches down with the leg and moves on with his life.
Over the next few weeks or months, you will witness this phenomenon occasionally.
Not to be a bearer of sad news here but chances are your little guy is suffering from Luxating patella.
This condition is one of the most prevalent, especially among toy breeds.
Veterinarians deal with these cases perhaps more than any other joint problem in dogs.
If your puppy has the condition, you have probably wondered if he will grow out of it on his own.
Lucky for you, we have the right answer to help you with your concerns.
An overview of Luxating patella
Luxating patellar, also known as ‘trick knee’, ‘floating kneecap’, or ‘slip knee” is a medical condition where a dog’s kneecap (patellar) doesn’t stay in position or dislocates (luxates).
The patellar has one job: to protect the knee joint. It slides up and down inside the patellar groove to make the knee flexible.
Under normal circumstances, the knee cap perfectly fits in the patellar groove—the notched area at the base of the thigh bone (femur).
Dogs with shallow patellar grooves often suffer floating knees as the kneecap easily snaps out of place.
In such a case, the kneecap will move to either side causing him to stop and pull the leg up until the patellar is back in place.
Although not very common, luxating patellar can also be a result of trauma.
No matter the cause, this condition needs treatment. If left untreated, the back and forth movement of the kneecap will wear down the knee cartilage and eventually lead to bone-on-bone contact.
This can cause arthritis in the poor dog which is extremely painful for him.
Does Luxating Patella Go Away?
Luxating patella is sadly unlikely to go away on its own.
Essentially, the condition is grouped into four stages: Grade 1– Grade 4.
Grade one is the lowest level and is where the patella pops back in place by itself without much pain to the dog.
In Grade 2, the kneecap dislocates much more frequently and can cause trauma over time.
Grade 3 is worse than Grade 2 as it causes the lower leg bones to twist, affecting the normal function of the leg.
Lastly, Grade 4 is the most severe and affects dogs with a non-existent patellar groove or those that have concave-shaped grooves. Here, the kneecap becomes permanently dislocated.
No matter the grade of twist knee, this is no condition to hope away.
Once your dog reaches one year, his bones will be fully grown. Even at the puppyhood stage, there’s no guarantee that the patellar will move back in place permanently.
If the groove is shallow, things cannot change on their own. As the poor dog grows up, the situation will only get worse.
In situations where the floating knee is caused by trauma, there’s a slight chance that things will repair themselves as the dog grows.
However, you cannot throw things to chance like that as a loving pet parent.
The best thing would be to let the vet diagnose the issue and offer the right medical treatment for your puppy.
Corrective surgery can save his health. Even for Grade 1 situations, you will never know when things escalate to Grade 2 and so on.
How Long Does A Luxating Patella Take To Heal?
It really depends on the treatment you opt for.
A. Joint supplements
For Grade 1 luxating patella, surgery may not be necessary.
The condition can be treated with joint supplements such as glucosamine that help strengthen the ligaments and surrounding tissues.
Please note that supplements can prevent or delay surgery. Healing takes a few months depending on the dog.
Related Post: 12 Best Luxating Patella Dog Supplements
The surgical procedure for treating luxating patella is known as sulcoplasty and is where the groove or sulcus is manually deepened.
The vet will then attach the kneecap tendon to the tibia. If necessary, they will add an implant in the knee to keep the patella from dislocating.
After surgery, the vet will limit activity to something very light. The dog will also have to go through rehabilitation exercises.
Gradually, he will assume normalcy but that will not happen for another six weeks or so. Some dogs take longer depending on the surgery performed on them.
Essentially, during the first two weeks, the dog should be kept in a closed area to restrict movement.
At the end of the two weeks, he should get his staples and stitches removed.
Over the next three weeks, the dog will do minor on-leash activities.
By the 6th week, the vet will perform an x-ray exam on the dog to determine whether he can go for long walks and jump around.
If they give the green light, the dog can slowly resume normal daily activities.
Else, he will keep being restricted a while longer.
Can Luxating Patella Get Worse?
Certainly. Patella luxation is a type of degenerative condition.
What this means is that if nothing is done, it will escalate and do more damage over time.
As the patellar moves in and out of the groove, it will wear things down. This only makes the situation worse. If the puppy started at Grade 1, the condition can graduate to Grade 2.
The chance of the condition getting better is very slim. It does happen in some puppies but many more go the opposite direction.
To avoid problems in the future, bring your pup to the vet. Get a few professional opinions to be safe.
Whatever the vet recommends, follow through with it. You don’t want to regret not taking care of your doggie when you had time to.
Should I Buy A Puppy With A Luxating Patella?
All puppies deserve a loving home. If you have the heart to care for dogs, you should be able to buy a pup with luxating patellar.
Before you do, though, realize that the dog will need to be taken to the vet right away.
If luck is on your side, the pup will have the least severe type and with the right supplements, he may grow out of it.
On the flip side, be prepared to bring the pup in for surgery. With surgery, your pooch has a high chance of a good future.
It is an unfortunate thing to learn that your sweet puppy has luxating patella. You stay up at night wondering what to do.
While some puppies snap out of the condition by themselves, a larger majority don’t.
To be safe, take the necessary measures to ensure a bright future for your furbaby.