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Patellar Luxation in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Patellar Luxation in Dogs is a Degenerative Joint Disease…

It will progressively worsen 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 your pet may be suffering from this condition, you’ll not only know what to expect, but you’ll also be able to get them to a vet sooner to create a treatment plan that will best help treat your loved one.

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

Patellar Luxation is pretty standard, especially in pedigree breed dogs, and 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, everyday wear and tear due to aging, or the result of some 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 later 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 unable to move from side to side of the “float.”  This, however, isn’t the case in a dog suffering from patellar luxation because in these cases, the patella can 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 isn’t a good thing!”

Now the important…

Realize that there are various stages of each condition, each progressing into a worsening and more painful state for your pet, ultimately ending with your dog being unable to walk entirely!  This is why it’s so crucial that if you do feel that your dog is suffering from this condition, you have them checked out right away so that a game plan can be put into place to 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 the following:

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

You 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. It is not exclusive to those breeds; 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:

Treatment Options

Your vet typically wants to confirm the diagnosis and start your dog on pain relief medication. They may 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 this might not be possible with older dogs. Glucosamine may be prescribed instead to help boost the dog’s ability to support its joints.


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

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks 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), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, 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, it can become quite expensive, particularly if it becomes recurring.  This is also 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 suitable 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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