What is patella luxation?

The patella is the small bone at the front of the knee which we’d refer to as the kneecap in humans. It’s positioned between the tendon attached to the tibia (shin bone) and the quadriceps muscle, and glides up and down a groove as the knee extends.

Sometimes, the patella can dislocate from this groove. This is called luxation, and can cause lameness, pain and osteoathritis.

It’s a common conditions that affects mostly small and miniature breeds of dog, including Staffordshire bull terriers, poodles, Pomeranians and chihuahuas. It can also affect some cats.

What are the symptoms of patella luxation in dogs?

Dogs with a luxating patella can start to show signs of it as puppies, although onset can occur in older dogs. You might see that your pet has a bow-legged stance, or that they’re skipping when they walk. They might also walk with a limp, or have difficulty moving at all. These are all signs of patella luxation.

What’s the treatment?

Treatment for patella luxation depends on how serious the condition is. After examining your pet (which may involve advanced diagnostic imaging), your specialist will give them a diagnostic grading between 1 and 4, with 1 being the least severe and 4 being the most severe.

Many dogs benefit from luxating patella surgery, particularly those diagnosed as grade 3 or 4. This can help to prevent the development of more severe limb deformities.


vets looking at scans  

What’s the prognosis?

The outlook for luxating patella surgery is generally very good, with 90% of dogs recovering from lameness and regaining full movement. Your pet will need to undergo a rest period of 6 weeks after the op and follow a limited exercise programme as prescribed by your surgeon, but if this is successful then they should be able to enjoy exercise as normal.