Luxating Patella, also known as trick knee or a floating patella, is a condition in which the patella (the kneecap) moves or become dislocated from its normal location. This is common condition seen in the smaller breed of dogs. It can also occur in cats, but has been linked with dogs more often than cats. Luxating Patella can sometimes be caused as result of trauma, but more often than not it is either caused from genetics or a developmental defect.
Certain breeds of dogs have been shown to have a predisposition for having Luxating Patella. The miniature and toy breed of dogs seem to be the most common. Some of these include the Toy Poodle, Maltese, Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians and Boston Terriers. Pekingese, Chihuahuas and Papillion’s also seem to have a genetic predisposition for this condition. Luxating Patella has also been seen larger breed dogs such as the Labrador retriever. The condition usually makes it self-known between the ages of 4 to 6 months.
Symptoms of this condition include lameness and pain at the location. Some pets will also show a limping like action, and the pet’s hind legs will also be stiff. The pet owner will generally notice a skip in the pets step and sometimes the pet will be running or walking on three legs. It is crucial at this time to get your pet to the vet so they can diagnosis the Luxating Patella. Diagnosis is made through the vet palpitating the knee and a series of X-rays. If the pet has been diagnosed with Luxating Patella, the treatment will depend on which grade of Luxating Patella the pet has.
There are four grades used in the diagnostic of Luxating Patella. The higher the number of the grade is the more the serious condition is. Grade One is where the patella can be manually be luxated (dislocated) when the leg is fully extended. When the leg is returned to normal position the patella moves as well. There is no stiffness at this grade, or very minimal. Grade two is the next step up and this is where as with Grade One the patella can be manually dislocated or can now also spontaneously dislocate itself when there is flexion of the joint. The patella remains dislocated until either the animal extends the joint in the opposite direction or is manually pushed back into place. In Grade Three the patella remains dislocated most of the times but can be manually repositioned. In the final grade, Grade Four the patella is permanently dislocated and cannot be pushed back into place. Some muscles may also start to become displaced at this stage.
Grades 2- 4 will require the pet to undergo surgery if the pet is having any difficulty walking. Depending on the grade level will depend on upon the exact details of the surgery. The surgery generally involves deepening the groove that the patella sits on. This procedure is called osteotomy. The goal of osteotomy is to lessen the risk of the patella becoming displaced. Some surgery’s will also require that additional bone is removed. When the bone is removed it forms a deep groove that the patella can rest safely in and hopefully not be dislocated again. Each vet’s office may differ in the actual prices of this procedure , so it is advised to speak with your vet in reference to pricing and or any payment plans.
The prognosis of recovery is very high, it is about a 90 percent success rate. After about 10- 14 days after you pet has had the surgery they should be walking with their toes touching the ground. In about 2- 3 months after the surgery you should see no signs of a limp. This means your pet is on the way to recovery and about to embark on a long and hopefully healthy life.