Degenerative diseases

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 16, 2018
Patellar Luxation in Dogs

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Patellar luxation in dogs occurs when a dog’s kneecap is dislocated. This can happen because of for various reasons. It can be congenital or caused by trauma.

As adults, small breeds are more likely to suffer this injury. Among the large and giant breeds, it often happens when they are still puppies. Bear in mind that dogs with congenital dislocation should not reproduce because they could pass this health problem to their puppies.

In this AnimalWised article we will give you information about patellar luxation in dogs, including its symptoms and treatment.


  1. Types of dislocation and symptoms
  2. How is patellar luxation diagnosed?
  3. Treatments in kneecap laceration.

Types of dislocation and symptoms

The patella is a small bone located in front of the knee. When this bone moves from its correct location, because of genetic or traumatic causes, the dog suffers pain and motion problems, and in severe cases affected limb can be disabled. In cases of traumatic patellar dislocation this is usually associated with the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee.

Classes of patellar dislocation:

There are 2 kinds of dislocations: the medial and the lateral.

The medial dislocation is the most common, it occurs in 80% of cases. The lateral dislocation often becomes bilateral. Females, small dogs and toy dogs are more likely to suffer from this kind of dislocation. Once the dislocation is detected, it can be classified according to 4 degrees or stages.

Patellar Luxation in Dogs - Types of dislocation and symptoms

Degrees of patellar dislocation:

  • I Degree: The characteristics of first-degree dislocation are: Intermittency of dislocation, causing lameness when the kneecap is out of place. Dogs suffering from first-degree dislocation tend to flex the leg or make a little hop every three or four steps.
  • II Degree: Second degree dislocation is characterized by being a far more common dislocation than the previous one. The patella dislocates frequently. Many dogs suffer this condition for years, before it progresses into progressive arthritis. Symptoms are a slight external rotation of the leg when walking, which causes lameness and can cause a serious disability.
  • III Degree: Third degree dislocation is characterized by: the patella being dislocated permanently without periods of improvement. It causes considerable external rotation of the affected leg. Moderate limping occurs in dogs that suffer from third-degree dislocation.
  • IV Degree: Fourth degree dislocation is characterized by the following symptoms: kneecap remains chronically dislocated. Limpness, that produces a considerable rotation of the leg, is very painful and prevents the dog from making certain efforts: climbing stairs, getting in the car, or jumping on the couch. When the dislocation is bilateral, the dog is resting on its front legs to walk. In severe cases it can be confused with hip problems.

How is patellar luxation diagnosed?

For an accurate diagnosis we should go to the vet who will physically manipulate the dog and subsequently carry out a radiography. Do not forget that, in order to find a treatment, the practitioner must follow this procedure. Otherwise, the treatment might not be implemented correctly, and the dog might not have the best chances of recovery.

At the same time, as a result of the diagnosis of patellar luxation in dogs, the vet will discover whether there are damages that could have caused this congenital or traumatic problem, for example in ligaments.

Patellar Luxation in Dogs - How is patellar luxation diagnosed?

Treatments in kneecap laceration.

Treatments to resolve kneecap laceration may be surgical or orthopaedic. There are multiple types of surgical treatments, and veterinary orthopaedic surgeons choose which surgery is most suitable for each case.

In cases where surgery fails or is not indicated, orthopaedics offers prosthesis suitable for putting the kneecap back in place. These prostheses are custom-made for each dog.

Patellar Luxation in Dogs - Treatments in kneecap laceration.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Patellar Luxation in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Degenerative diseases category.

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Patellar Luxation in Dogs