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Luxating Patella: A Common Knee Problem in Dogs
Most dogs like to run and play outside; unfortunately, knee problems often slow them down. A dog’s knee is similar to a human’s. The most common ligament to tear in most dogs is known as the cranial cruciate ligament; which leads to lameness, pain and instability of the joint. In general, these knee problems do not bother most dogs. A cry of pain, a brief episode of limping, and within minutes or hours the pooch is back to his old, active self.
The most common knee problem in dogs is known as a luxating patella. This knee condition occurs when the structures that make up your dog’s knees are misaligned or deformed. When they suffer from this condition, they have a misplaced patella, which is a small bone that pops out of its normal socket when you move. In most cases, the patella will pop out of this original tract onto the inside of the dog’s knee.
Dog breeds that are commonly affected by patellar luxation
Some dog breeds are more severely affected by this knee problem than others. This condition can cause the dog some discomfort and pain. Dogs who have this knee condition on both hind legs may even change their posture and gait. For example, a Poodle may drop its hind legs and hold its hind legs further away from its body when walking. Some even try to walk on their front legs, just like in the circus. Breeds commonly affected by this knee problem are smaller breeds such as miniature and toy poodles and Pomeranians. Short-legged breeds such as the Dachshund and Basset Hound are also prone to this knee problem.
What are the common symptoms?
This knee problem is usually seen in Poodles under two years of age. Some of the symptoms can range from mild to severe, such as a temporary or occasional limp with a bouncing movement. For example, you may have heard your dog yelping in pain while running or playing. Your pooch could keep his foot permanently off the ground. If both of his legs are affected by this problem, the dog may crouch and look like a bow. He may also start walking on his front legs with his back leg completely off the ground.
Treatment of luxating patella
This condition is usually diagnosed by a vet using gentle thumb pressure and the condition will be graded depending on the severity of the condition.
- Grade 1 is the least severe condition where the knee cap easily snaps back into place on its own.
- Grade 2 is when the pooch has less stable knees, but the patella can be massaged back into place.
- Stage 3 is when the problem is more pronounced or when the dog experiences chronic pain and other arthritic changes.
- Grade 4 is a condition where the kneecap is stuck and fixed out of its normal position in the socket of the femur.
Surgery is not always necessary for this knee problem; however, if the condition is severe, an operation known as a “medical repair of a luxating patella” can be performed.
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