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Patellar Luxation in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Patellar Luxation in Dogs is a Degenerative Joint Disease…

Meaning that it will get progressively worse over time, especially if left untreated.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss the common condition which can affect so many of our pets.  This way, if you think that you pet may be suffering from this condition, you’ll not only know what to expect, you’ll also be able to get him or her to a vet sooner so that you can create a treatment plan that will best help treat you loved one.

So, what is Patellar Luxation and what does it do?

Patellar Luxation is actually fairly common, especially in pedigree breed dogs and basically describes a situation where a dog’s leg bones don’t fit correctly into the knee joint.  This “misalignment” can be due to a hereditary condition, normal wear and tear due to aging or can be the result of some type of injury.


Regardless of “why” your dog suffers from patellar luxation, what is known is that the condition will typically progress into arthritis over time and can increase your pet’s chances of breaking a leg latter on in life.

Mechanics of patellar luxation…

Patellar Luxation happens when the kneecap (or Patella) becomes unstable and starts to move around. You see, in a “normal” knee joint, the patella is supposed to be connected to the two bones of the leg via the knee joint and not be able to more from side to side of “float”.

This however isn’t…

The case in a dog suffering from patellar luxation because in these cases, the patella is able to move from side to side (Medial Patellar Luxation or MPL) exposing the ends of the leg bones, the cartilage and the corresponding tendons of the knee joint…

“Which obviously isn’t a good thing!”

Now the important…

To realize that there are various stages of each condition, each progressing into a worsening and more painful condition for you pet ultimately ending with your dog being unable to walk entirely!

This is why…

It’s so important that if you do feel that your dog is suffering from this condition that you have him or her checked out right away so that a game plan can be put into place which can slow down the progression of this disease.

Clinical signs of Patellar Luxation

Clinical signs that your dog may be suffering from Patellar Luxation can include:

  • Pain,
  • Limping or lameness in one or more legs,
  • Swelling or inflammation around the knee joints

Coupled with your dog preventing you from being able to touch his legs in the latter stages.  The kneecap itself may also visibly move about under the skin.  An X-ray can usually determine if your dog is suffering from this condition.

Breeds predisposed towards Patellar Luxation

As we said above, Patellar Luxation often affects young dogs who are still growing, old dogs whose joints have taken a lot of stress over the years, and small breed dogs. That being said it is not exclusive to those breeds and any dog might suffer from it. Remember that it is hereditary and can be passed from a parent. All that being said, this is the list of known affected breeds:

  • The Australian Shepherd
  • The Bedlington Terrier
  • The Boykin Spaniel
  • The Chihuahua
  • The Chinese Shar Pei
  • The Chow Chow
  • The Cocker Spaniel
  • The Dachshund
  • The French Bulldog
  • The Japanese Chin
  • The Labrador Retriever
  • The Lhasa Apso
  • The Norfolk Terrier
  • The Pomeranian
  • The Pug
  • The Scottish Terrier
  • The Shiba Inu
  • The Schipperke
  • The Tibetan Spaniel
  • The Tibetan Terrier
  • The Yorkshire Terrier

Treatment Options

Your vet will typically want to confirm diagnosis and then start your dog on pain relief medication. It is possible they will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications depending on the severity of your dog’s condition.

They will also…

Almost always treat with surgery in the end, although with older dogs this might not be possible. Glucosamine may be prescribed instead to help boost the dog’s own ability to support its joints.


Your pet will also usually be put onto a weight management program. This is important because it means your dog will have less weight to support with the affected limb. As you might imagine, overweight dogs are going to suffer much more from this condition that a slender dog would.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have patellar luxation (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

And while…

This condition may not be life threatening, they can certainly become quite expensive to deal with particularly if they become recurring issues.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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