View Full Version : Patella problem

2nd August 2012, 04:32 PM
Hi all,

My 6 month old girl, Lady, has been showing signs of a luxating patella since I picked her up at 8 weeks. At first, her back right leg seemed much much weaker than the left, she used to walk kind of sideways and you could tell it wasnt as strong as the other. After some growing her walking improved a lot, but she often yelps, and jumps to favours her back right leg seemingly out of the blue. She does this I would say about once a day, maybe every few days, and sometimes more than once a day. It seems like most of the time when it happens she lying down in the "curled up" position.

At our first vet appointment at around 12 weeks, the vet examined it and saw that she had some difficulty extending the leg. She only shows pain when the leg seems to either dislocate or pinch, other than that she seems fine; she can walk, run and jump with ease the majority of the time. Unfortunately this is now considered a "pre-existing condition" and I can no longer apply for pet insurance without the leg being excluded for coverage, so I opted to just save on my own. I did some research of my own and through this forum and other sites I have read that some puppies had the issue and grew out of it, and others have had to eventually get operated on. The vet said to just monitor her condition for signs of it getting worse.

I was wondering if other people with who have a had a simliar issue could share their stories and advice. Also, when do you think would be an appropriate time to have it X-rayed?

Thanks in advance!

2nd August 2012, 05:04 PM
My parents have a dog with this issue. Really for him its not been an issue. They were told "just watch it" when he was about 3 months, he just turned 6 and its still alright. Tho he is a pretty lazy dog, he runs in the yard and jumps on the sofa or a bed whenever he wants. HOWEVER, this dog has never showed any real sign of pain, no yelping, no favoring other legs, no avoiding walking etc. He doesn't like to walk on hard surfaces, but I don't know if that is because of his luxating patella.


2nd August 2012, 05:56 PM
They don't really need to xray to diagnose this -- your vet is doing the proper checks and you will know if it is not improving. Next time you see your vet, ask for a grade on the patella, If it goes above a 2 (the borderline) vets tend to want to do the surgery. If not treated, patellas can get increasingly worse and more painful, bringing on early arthritis for many dogs and sometimes it will be bad enough to shorten their life -- so t isn;t something to take lightly. However patellas often do tighten in young dogs.

Generally the vet will be looking to see how the dog is doing by around age 1.

www.cavalierhealth.org has lots of good info and if you search on the term patella you should find some useful past threads as well.

Here's the direct link to the patella section: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/patellas.htm

In general the advice is to prevent a young dog with this issue from jumping up and down off furniture, or anything that can jar those joints. This will help to some degree to prevent things becoming worse simply due to damaging activities, but not of course if the patella is bad and gets worse on its own. If they were bad at 8 weeks, unfortunately I would guess the prognosis is probably that they will get worse -- usually they don't really become apparent til several months older than that so if they showed that early, my guess is that they are more problematical. But that's a guess -- some here know this area a lot better than me!

2nd August 2012, 06:45 PM
The vet didnt actually diagnose it for sure as a patella issue, just that it could possibly be the cause of her symptoms. She's really active and just learned how to jump on the couch (she was so proud of herself!), its going to be hard to limit her jumping but I will try. I've also been giving her a treat with glucosamine every few days, since they're supposed to be good for joints. I am moving in september and am going to try and buy as many area rugs as I can because when she slips on the hardwood it looks so painful/bad. But the problem has seemed to improve slightly since shes grown, so Im hoping it doesnt get toooo bad...I will keep an eye on it though and have the vet evaluate her at the next appointment in a few months.

2nd August 2012, 07:29 PM
I don't really know enough to know if it is a patella issue or not. However two of Sonny's siblings have been diagnosed with grade 2 luxating patellas. One was 11 months at diagnosis and the other was 13 months. The owners of the little girl diagnosed at 11 months said that her patella was popping out of the socket 5-6 times a day! They went ahead and had surgery and she is still recovering. However the little boy diagnosed at 13 months doesn't seem to be as bad and his patella has only popped out a couple of times through out his life and then popped right back into place. With this one they are evaluating to see if he needs surgery, but for now the vet put him on anti inflammatory meds and told the owner to restrict activity especially jumping like Karlin mentioned. I just talked to the owners the other day and they said he was doing better with the restrictive activity (like jumping) and the anti inflammatory meds.

I hope this doesn't end up being what your little one has! Keep us updated and good luck!

2nd August 2012, 07:46 PM
Bentley started having trouble with this late last summer; he would suddenly yelp loudly, almost as if he had been hit by a car. It would go on & on. The vet was immediately able to diagnose it by feeling the knee and xrays confirmed it. He was referred to a doggy orthopedic surgeon who operated when he was 1 year old. He said the other leg also needed surgery but not immediately. Within a month of that surgery our daughter passed away, it was wintertime, now we're in extreme drought & heatwave, and we just keep putting it off. The worst thing is the recovery period of 6 wks or so and having to use the 'cone' on his head. I will say that Bentley has never been a jumper at all. He has jumped on the couch 2 times in his life and that in response to watching a visiting Bishon do it. I think he has weak legs or something; however, he can run with the best of them if he gets the chance!

2nd August 2012, 11:59 PM
The vet didnt actually diagnose it for sure as a patella issue, just that it could possibly be the cause of her symptoms.

Hmmm. A vet should be able to diagnose a patella issue easily, on examination. I would really want to pin them down on this and get a proper diagnosis. If the vet isn't sure, then I'd want to know why (eg what else could it be), and have other things explored as this sounds fairly worrying. Was the only appointment she had back at 12 weeks? If so, she really needs to be seen again, given that three more months have passed and given your description here:

After some growing her walking improved a lot, but she often yelps, and jumps to favours her back right leg seemingly out of the blue. She does this I would say about once a day, maybe every few days, and sometimes more than once a day.

That is a significant degree of discomfort and difficulty -- it really needs a proper diagnosis. :thmbsup:

Other causes of walking problems could be issues like hip dysplasia (also known in this breed) -- which would need xrays. The one other thing that might need to be considered is syringomyelia. It can cause leg weakness and lack of coordination.

But I'd say almost certainly this is a luxatting patella given her age and what you describe and I'd return to your vet, try another vet for a second opinion or see a vet orthopedist to try to pin down exactly what is going on. She is struggling with significant leg pain by the sound of it. At the very least, she may need painkillers to manage this asap.

3rd August 2012, 02:41 PM
She has been to the vet quite a few times but usually for vaccinations which have been with the technician. She is very very vocal when she is feeling discomfort, so from what i can see it seems like a momentary pinch or something which causes the pain very quickly, and then she moves on and acts normally. She has never favoured the leg more than a couple seconds or had any kind of drawn out yelping/whining.

From what you are saying, I will search for another vet to get a second opinion. My vet's recommendation was to wait it out and see if it gets better or worse, and since it hasnt gotten any worse (maybe a bit better), I've just been keeping an eye on it. I was really really hoping she would "grow into it", but I think I should definitely take it more seriously. Thanks everyone for your advice!