Cattle Dogs

Out of Joint - Luxating Patella

Your dog, like you, has the chance of slipping discs, popping joints and dislocating various body parts. Some of these problems may be temporary; others result in a permanent condition. The origin may be a trauma or genetic. One of the more common and variable knee health issues is luxating patella.

What is Luxating Patella?

Your dog may be running and suddenly, he or she makes a small yip. The leg is held off the ground. Yet, sometimes in a flash, the dog is off, back to normal. This could be a luxating patella. Luxating patella or patellar luxation refers to the slipping (luxates) out of place of the knee cap (patella). In other words, the knee cap “pops out” of its normal place. In some instances, it can naturally pop back into place as quickly as it came out.

The kneecap sits in a groove. If the groove proves to be too shallow, the kneecap can slip or pop out. If the slip is to the outside of the leg, it is lateral luxation. If it slips to the inside of the leg, it is medial luxation. Medial luxation is the most common of the 2 types.

What Causes the Problem?

Small breeds seem to suffer more than large breeds from this issue. There is a definite hereditary component of the problem. Some susceptible breeds are:

* Basset Hound
* Boston Terriers
* Bulldogs
* Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
* Chihuahuas
* Daschund
* Jack Russell Terriers
* Maltese
* Papillons
* Pekingese
* Pomeranians
* Poodles
* Yorkshire Terriers

Detection and Treatment

Early signs may be the holding up of a leg. When you try to touch or move it, the dog reacts against it. He or she will not initially place any weight on it. If this happens, a yip follows. A trip to the vet may confirm the problem as being luxating patella.

The vet will do a range-of-motion (ROM) test. He or she will pull and push the leg to see if, after it pops out, it pops in quickly. Failure to do so is another indication of this health issue. In order to clarify further the problem, the vet may then arrange for X-rays.

Treatment may include anti-inflammatory. Your vet will decide what strength is suitable and for how long. Restricted exercise is also a key component in the early treatment of the disease. For longer term care, you may have to consider the addition of supplements to the diet. The most common contain glucosamine and Chondroitin. You can feed your dog this as part of their meal or as an additional substance. The glucosamine-chondroitin comes in powder and pill form. Treats and dog food may also contain the substance. Alternatively, you can arrange with the vet for monthly shots.

If the condition does not improve but progresses, surgery may be the answer. A veterinarian surgeon will perform an operation to deepen the groove on which the kneecap sits. At the same time, he or she will repair any loose or torn ligaments.


Luxating patella is a problem common among many small breeds and a few larger ones. The condition may temporarily or permanently render your dog lame. Medications can only decrease the problem. If the problem progresses, you will have to arrange for surgery to correct the slipping kneecap.

Article by Terry Patterson, go to for Taste of the Wild dog food online!