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Advice From Dr. Lindsey: Luxating Patella

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Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM

A luxating patella is a fairly common problem I see in dogs. What is it? Well, the dog’s kneecap normally rides in a groove. When the kneecap is luxated it means that it moves out of its normal position in the groove. Many small and toy breed dogs have a genetic predisposition to luxating patellas.

Clinical signs of a luxating patella are seeing the dog “skip” or hold one rear leg up when walking. The dog may have difficulty bearing weight on the leg when it’s luxated. It’s rare for a dog to show signs of discomfort when the luxation happens. Most dogs learn how to kick their leg out to cause the kneecap to go back into the groove. Some dogs have patella luxation of both their hind legs, but some dogs only have it in one knee.

There are different grades of severity of a patella luxation. Depending on the grade, some dogs can live with the discomfort life-long, however, as the dog ages joint discomfort will develop in the joint. Some dogs with more life-impacting discomfort may need surgery to correct the patella luxation.

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Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.