Patellar Luxation in Dogs Featured Image

Patellar Luxation in dogs is a hereditary disorder. If you're a dog owner, this sounds pretty serious.

If you ever notice that your dog is limping, hopping, or skipping around, this could be a sign that they are suffering from patellar luxation. Monitor your dog and see if they're having a hard time or discomfort in walking.

This condition can sometimes be treated with physical therapy; others need surgery. All of this will depend on the severity of the cases. Below, we'll also discuss how much luxating patella surgery costs.

In addition, there are dog breeds that are prone to this condition. If you're just planning to adopt a new pup and don't want the hassle, research thoroughly.

Make sure that the breeder can give you the whole medical background of the dog and the dog's parents.

What are those dog breeds? So, does this condition hurt? Can dogs live a long life with this disease? We will answer those questions.

But first, let's discuss what is Patellar Luxation in dogs.

Luxating Patella In Dogs

What is Patellar Luxation In Dogs?

Patellar Luxation is a condition where the patella has slipped out of its usual location. It is one of the most common hindlimb orthopedic pathologies in dogs and can also be seen in other mammals as well.

The patella, also known as the kneecap, is located on your dog's femur bone. Luxating means ‘dislocated‘ or ‘out of place‘.

Monitor your dog if they are skipping a step or see them run on three legs and then suddenly be back to normal as if nothing happened. There is a good chance that your dog is suffering from a luxating patella.

When this happens, the knee can't extend properly and stays bent. In some fortunate cases, the kneecap can also slip back to where it belongs and can be back to normal in a few days.

Unfortunately, some cases need surgical correction to be able to get the kneecap back and get their normal extension.

Grades of Patellar Luxation

If you're wondering if luxating patella can cause any long-term problems for your dog, it will depend on the grade of luxation and if both legs are impacted to the same degree.

The treatment of this disease will also depend on what grade your dog is experiencing. Some mild cases of this issue don't mean it'll lead to surgery.

On the other hand, some dogs can tolerate this condition for years and even for their entire life. Here are the different grades of patellar luxation:

Grade I 

Grade I is when the patella can be manually dislocated but can be returned to normal position when released. The flexion and extension of the joint should be normal. The luxating patella happens rarely during normal joint motions.

Grade II

Luxation happens on manual manipulation and remains dislocated until stifle extension or manual replacement happens.

Irregular lameness will be experienced when the kneecap dislocates out of the normal position. It can also be painful if there is damage to the cartilage caused by regular luxation.

Grade III

In graded III, the kneecap is continuously luxated. Fortunately, it can easily be manually replaced. However, the patella does luxate again spontaneously when manual pressure is removed.

Dogs in this grade can experience more pain and show more lameness due to repeated dislocation.

Grade IV

This grade of patella luxation cannot be manually reduced. The patella is continuously luxated.

In this state, the kneecap is permanently dislocated from its normal position and cannot be manually replaced. It can lead to lameness, impaired mobility, and reduced limb function.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Luxating Patella

It's easy to see if your dog is suffering from luxating patella early in its life. However, some symptoms can develop later on.

A few of these symptoms are:

  • Changes in Walking – monitor your pet, and if you notice that your dog is walking uncomfortably or with an unusual posture, it can be a sign of a luxating patella.
  • Hopping or Skipping – Notice if your dog is moving around unnaturally. They can be pausing in between to hop and skip to slip their kneecap back to its normal place.
  • Leg Stiffness – If you notice that your dog is moving around with stiffness, it can indicate that their kneecaps have shifted out of place.Injured Chihuahua

Causes of Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation in dogs is a congenital or developmental disorder, meaning it's an inborn issue. But traumatic injuries, for instance, tearing and overstretching of the dog's joints, can also be prone to the luxating patella.

On the other hand, a dog's kneecaps can also be dislocated because of its body structure. For example, the soft tissues that support the kneecaps are too tight or loose.

The patella rests below a ligament called the patellar ligament. The patellar ligament connects the large thigh muscles to a point in the center front of the tibia (shin bone).

When the thigh muscles contract, the force is communicated through the patellar ligament, which is pulled on the tibia. After that, the extension or straightening of the knee happens.

The patella now slides up and down on its own and helps keep the patellar ligament in place during the activity.

What Breeds Are Most Prone to Patellar Luxation?

Unfortunately, since patella luxation is a congenital condition, certain dog breeds are genetically prone to the luxating patella. A lot of these breeds are toy or small-breed dogs.

However, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, there is also a rise in patellar luxation in large breeds. Below are dog breeds that are prone to luxating patella:


  • Boston Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Pomeranians
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Bichon Frise
  • Shih-Tzu
  • Pug
  • French Bulldog


  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers
  • Akitas
  • The Great Pyrenees


The prognosis is excellent if your vet performs surgery before any knee injury happens. But if your dog has already been suffering from arthritis, your dog can experience intermittent pain in the leg and arthritis may worsen.

The higher the grade of patella luxation, the higher the chances for it to come back even postoperatively.

Ask your vet about anti-inflammatories, joint supplements, and special joint diets to help slow the progression of arthritis and help lessen any pain or discomfort.

Treatment for Luxating Patella

The treatment for this condition will depend on the grade of the disease. Most grade I and grade II cases can be treated with pain and anti-inflammatory medications and weight management.

In addition, physical rehabilitation therapy can also be helpful in these grades as it can help rebuild muscle strength.

If grade II cases are experiencing significant pain from cartilage damage, surgery might be required. This can also improve their quality of life in the long run.

Surgery is almost always the treatment for dogs suffering from grade III and grade IV, as it can cause significant pain.

The goal of surgery is to realign the supporting structures of the knee joint to help the patella move normally and stay in the groove of the femur.

Surgery is usually the answer for dogs that have both hind limbs affected. After surgery, your dog is required to wear a soft bandage or brace for two to five days to help heal correctly. Exercise is not allowed for four to eight weeks.

Physical rehabilitation can also help reduce the loss of muscle mass on the limb and help the dog return to normal activities.

About 90% of dog owners were happy about the progress of their dogs after surgery. However, the prognosis in large dogs is less successful, especially if patellar luxation is combined with other issues like excessive angulation or hip dysplasia.

Sadly, prevention for luxating patella is very limited. Since this is a genetic disease, it is inherited rather than acquired. If you’re going to adopt or buy a dog, make sure to get it from licensed or known breeders. 

injured joint Chihuahua

How Much Does Luxating Patella Surgery Cost?

The surgery for patella luxation can range from $1,000 to $5,000. But this will all depend on where you live and who will perform the surgery. Generally, vets usually charge less than board-certified veterinary surgeons.

But these board-certified surgeons, of course, have more advanced training and experience when it comes to surgery.

Fortunately, if you're short on budget, you can try rehabilitation. Rehab is physical therapy for dogs that costs about $40 to $100 per session.

This can help strengthen your dog's muscles to support the knee joint and hold the patella in its correct position.

Just research and look for a vet who is certified in rehabilitation.

Frequently Asked Question

Can luxating patella in dogs heal itself?

This question will depend on the grade of patella luxation. If the condition is consulted in the earlier stages, it is more likely to be a positive prognosis. Most grade I and grade II cases can be managed without surgery. If

Therapy and controlled exercise can help with building up the leg muscles and stop the kneecap from dislocating.

Is luxating patella painful for dogs?

When the kneecap dislocates, the dog has difficulty walking because of bearing weight on the leg. But there are rarely signs of pain.

They can learn how to kick the leg to the side, which will hyperextend the knee and snap the patella back into its proper location. In addition, the pain and discomfort will depend also on the grade of the disease.

In general, luxation is not considered a painful issue. But if left untreated, arthritis sets in, and this disease is pretty painful for dogs.

Can a puppy grow out of a luxating patella?

Patella luxation is often diagnosed in a dog's puppy years. Luxating patella is a genetic condition, meaning puppies do not grow out of it.

Treatment is required if your dog is experiencing pain and a loss of function in the affected limb.

Does CBD help dogs with joint pain?

In recent studies, CBD was found to be effective in reducing joint pain. CBD can also improve your dog's quality of life.

CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can help dogs that are suffering from joint pains like arthritis. But always remember that it will not fully cure the dog's arthritis, but it can help ease its symptoms.

In addition, CBD can also help with Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia is a common skeletal condition.

Again, CBD is not a cure for this type of disease. But it can assist with its symptoms. CBD Can help regulate pain, inflammation, and immune response.

CBD for Dogs Ultimate Dosage Guide

How long does it take for CBD oil to work on dogs for arthritis?

The effects of CBD don't happen overnight. When it comes to joint pain relief and anti-inflammation effects, your dog will show signs of relief in about 2-4 weeks.

Keep in mind that you should only give the required dosage to your dog. However, If your dog is experiencing significant pain from arthritis, it might need more.

CBD for Dogs Ultimate Dosage Guide

According to studies, CBD efficacy on arthritic dogs is 2 mg per kg of the dog's weight is recommended. Or it can be 1 mg per pound of the dog's weight.

For example, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, it'll need 4 mg of CBD Oil.

dog joint problem

Patellar Luxation In Dogs Summary

Patellar luxation in dogs is a hereditary disorder where the kneecap has slipped out of its proper location. A dog's knee can't extend properly, and it stays bent when the patella is dislocated.

A few symptoms of this condition are lameness and locking up of the limb at an unusual angle.

As the dog owner, be responsible and monitor your dog. If you notice that they are limping around or struggling to walk, consult with your vet immediately.

If you're thinking about adopting a dog, keep in mind that small dog breeds like Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, and Pomeranians are prone to this kind of condition.

Furthermore, there are four grades of patellar luxation, from Grade 1, which is the least severe, to Grade 4, which is the most severe. The treatment for this condition will depend on these grades.

If your pup is in grade I or II, treatment could just be pain and anti-inflammatory relief and rehabilitation. If they are in grades III and IV, surgery is the most optimal solution.

Luxating patella surgery costs around $1000 or higher. While rehab or physical therapy can only cost you around $100 per session.

Fortunately, a lot of dogs with this condition don't need surgery. Sometimes rest, relaxation, and physical therapy are enough. They'll be back to their usual self, running and playing around your home.

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