I just received a message today from Sonny's sister's owner that his sister has a luxating patella on both of her back legs. :( I feel so sad for her, she is only 11 months old... I am also concerned about what this means for Sonny.
I knew that cavaliers are prone to luxating patellas, but I didn't realize that they can get them so young. I thought that they usually got them when they are older.
There is an article about luxating patellas at http://cavalierhealth.org/patellas.htm It is not an old dog's disorder, but in some cases it can be so mild that only wear and tear with age will cause the dog serioius problems. It can be detected in puppies as young as 6 to 8 weeks old. But all cavaliers should be re-examined periodically, ideally annually with the rest of an annual physical examination.
I am sorry about your pups sister. Like Rod said there are different degrees of luxation. The owner should have her dog evaluated by a ortho vet. I have a boston terrier that has a grade 1 luxating patella. She runs and jumps like all normal dogs occasionally she will hop after a run and stretch out her leg to re-align the knee herself. She might get worse as she ages because she is so active but a calm dog may not get worse. I can't remember what age I noticed the knee but my boston was young as well, less than a year old. She is 4 now.
This is why buying from health tested parents are so important. My boston terrier was an impulse buy. Her parents were just pets that the owners decided to breed. No health testing at all. :(
She is stage 2 in both of the back legs. I think they are trying her on anti-inflammatory meds first, but the vet seemed to think she was going to need surgery in both legs. They said she is so sad and seems confused that she can't run around like usual and that she keeps having pain. :( We were supposed to get all of the siblings together for their 1rst birthday in a couple of weeks, but it looks like she can't come now because they are worried she would be running and jumping about too much with her brothers.
I really thought that I did my research when I bought Sonny, but I realize now, mostly because of this website that there were soooooo many things that I didn't know. I thought that both of his parents had been cleared for no knee problems, but now I realize the difference between being OFA certified and just cleared by the vet. I would never ever trade Sonny for another puppy, but I am glad I now have more awareness and can direct others to this site before they purchase a puppy, so that they really know everything they should be asking and checking for when looking for a puppy.
I am thinking about talking to my vet about Glucosamine Chondroitin supplements for Sonny to maybe help with prevention...
Just to say my Ebony had Grade 4 luxating patellar on one leg (My old vet left it far too long) but she was running around like nothing was wrong with her. I know every dog is different and once she had the operation the physio at the hydro remarked that Ebony has a high pain threshold. My Ebony has 7 brothers & sisters and none of them have it.
A tip I was given by a vet many years ago was to walk the dog 'up' small hills. It worked for my ruby boy, he had slipping patellas in both legs and was just a puppy. I spent time following this advice choosing a small but steep hill and lead walked the dog up this hill several times a day, it strengthened his muscles and ligaments holding the kneecap in place and he never needed the operation. However, not every dog is the same or has the same degree of luxation, but for me it was a success.
Patellas are generally checked by vets -- it isn't a very hard thing to look for. But what people say on a website, and what was actually done -- or if done at all -- or if the vet even seriously looks for anything (a lot of vets for large scale pet breeders make lots of money off them and are happy to say little or just rubberstamp 'passes' for health results)... But patellas are one of the few health tests that a vet rather than specialist does. OFA simply takes the vet's exam data to add the info to their database -- so technically there's no difference between a vet's results and the fact that they are on OFA except the vet/owner filled out the form and sent to OFA. Lots of good breeders BTW don't use OFA -- and some crappy ones do and will point to their results being listed there as 'proof' that they are a responsible breeder. Some feel OFA isn't meticulous and health focused enough (Rod may well dive in here to explain why... :) ).
I think if I had a dog in a lot of pain with grade 2 patellas, i probably wouldn't be waiting around to decide on whether to do knees... sounds like they need doing (would sure get a second opinion from an orthopedic specialist). But either way if they need doing, I would get a very good surgeon, not necessarily the vet the dog sees.
The typical age for patellas problems to show is between 4 months to a year or so. But as Rod says often they are not noticed and come back to bother the adult dog much later. Vets and orthopedists say that often knees that aren;t done, if they needed doing, typically will gradually cause more and more pain and arthritis problems, but only much later in life as the dog ages (keeping the dog fit and not fat is thus very important!). Really bad patellas if not corrected can eventually just 'lock' and then cannot really be done. I had one such dog in rescue ad she ran around with no seeming problem at age 4 or so but the worry would be when the dog gets to be a few years older.
Karlin is quite accurate. OFA has to rely upon what the examining veterinarians report. In the case of patellas, unlike in many instances, the examining vet does not have to be a board certified specialist to submit a report to OFA. (There is another exception discussed below.) Boarded specialists usually don't take their work lightly. They have higher standards to meet, and they don't like to be second-guessed by some other specialist.
Originally Posted by Karlin
Examining patellas should be taken very seriously by the general practice vet who, presumably, is conducting a full body examination. But I can understand the motivation of an unethical vet with a close, profitable relationship with a breeder, to be less than thorough in feeling each puppy's knees.
In the US, more and more health clinics, sponsored by kennel clubs and breed clubs and usually held at dog shows, are offering patella exams. Even though those vets likewise are general practice vets, when you go to a patella clinic, you and the vet both know that an accurate exam is important. Also, all cavalier owners should take their dogs to vets for annual exams, and tell the vets that patella exams are important to them.
(The other non-specialist exception I can think of is, amazingly, heart murmur exams. OFA accepts non-specialist reports of heart auscultation exams. The fact that a non-boarded vet has submitted the report is noted by OFA, but you need to know how to read an OFA line item to realize that a lot of cavalier breeding stock claimed to be OFA-heart-clear were really only examined by a general practice vet. That is unacceptable under the MVD breeding protocol, but that fact hardly bothers a vast majority of cavalier breeders in the US.)
Thanks everyone for all of the information and tips. As usual everyone's responses were very helpful.:)
Sonny had his patellas checked last time he was at the vet about a month ago because the insurance asked for it. At that time the vet reported all four knees were good. We will definitely stay on top of annual checks.
I believe that his sister is scheduled for surgery in a couple of weeks. I am going to direct them to this site for tips on aftercare of surgery and ect. I especially feel sad for his sister because the vet told them that the recovery period is 3-4 months and she has to do one leg and then the other, so she is going to be going through surgery and then recovery for about a year. Poor little pup. :(
Glad Sonny's patellas are OK. It's hard not to worry especially since his sister is having problems. At least you are on top of it!