Luxating Patella in Canines | PetFirst Pet Insurance
Pet Care & Health

Luxating Patella? What to know about loose knees?

by MetLife Pet Insurance
4 years ago
What is a Luxating Patella?

Patellar luxation occurs when your dog’s kneecap is dislocated from the groove of the thigh bone. The only way for the kneecap to return to normal anatomic position is for the muscles of the hind legs to relax and lengthen. Luxating patella is one of the most prevalent knee joint problems among dogs.

Breeds at High Risk for Developing Luxating Patellas

Luxating patellas are most commonly found in miniature breeds including:

  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pomeranian
  • Pekingese
  • Boston Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Toy Poodle

Most of the dogs affected by patellar luxation are middle-aged. Female dogs are also more commonly found to acquire this condition than male dogs.

Symptoms of Luxating Patellas

The symptoms of the condition correlate with the severity of the condition. Generally, a dog with patellar luxation will exhibit difficulty moving the hindlimbs and sudden lameness. These symptoms may not be apparent at all times and often come in an “on again-off again” sequence. Pain will occur occasionally with this condition; primarily when the kneecap slides out of the groove of the thigh bone. This often occurs as your dog is running and you may notice her cry out in pain mid-run.

Over time, if the condition is not corrected, your dog will become increasingly lame and may eventually not be able to move at all. This is because the joint associated will develop arthritis and result in a permanent swelling of the knee. In order to prevent long-term effects, a veterinarian must be visited to conduct a thorough examination.

Causes of the Disease

Patellar luxation is most often a result of genetics although the condition may also be a result of trauma. Selective breeding is key in preventing this condition from spreading throughout the breed. If either of your dog’s parents had this disease, your dog is at a high risk for developing the disease throughout his or her lifetime.

Treatment of the Disease

Drug therapy is generally not effective with this condition. Surgery is highly recommended to correct patellar luxation. Following surgery, a dog generally recovers within 30-60 days.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.


Amber L. Drake, a Professional Canine Behaviorist and Adjunct Professor of Biological Science, has extensive experience in the Animal Science Field. She has worked with dogs professionally for over ten years. Her clients range from private pet parents to large canine rescue organizations. In addition to accepting clients on a regular basis, Drake serves as anAdjunct Professor at Jamestown Community College and Kaplan University. Drake has earned a Doctor of Education (ABD), Educational Specialist Post-Masters, Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has completed coursework at Cornell University for Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Biochemistry at UC Berkeley, Veterinary Technology at Penn Foster and a number of Continuing Education courses to remain up-to-date in her field.

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