Luxating patella in labradors

Luxating patella usually affects small or toy dogs such as Poodle or Pomeranian but this disease is also common in Labradors because of their bow-shaped legs. Luxating patella is a condition wherein the patella dislocates or moves out of its normal location and is usually evident between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Below are some facts about luxating patella to guide every dog owners on their journey against luxating patella.

– Patella is a bone commonly called the knee cap. This bone glides up and down when the knee joint is bent back and forth guiding the action of the quadriceps muscle in the lower leg. Patella also protects the knee joint.

– The two bony ridges that form a groove in the end of the femur allows the patella to slide up and down. Some dogs do have too-shallow groove, causing the patella to jump out toward the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg. This dislocation is called luxating patella. When the knee cap dislocates, it usually cannot return to its normal position until the muscle of the quadriceps relaxes and increases in length. Affected dog after the initial incident will force to hold his leg up for a few minutes to allow the muscles to contract. While the muscles contract, the patella is luxated from its normal position.

– Luxating patella can either be a result of a traumatic injury or congenital deformities. Sometimes, only one knee is affected but this disease can affect both knees. Signs of luxating patella vary depending on the severity of the disease. Though this disease is usually evident to dogs between 4 to 6 months, this may also develop to new-born puppies. Affected dogs usually exhibit lameness, pain, stiffness of the hind limb and a skipping gait. Some dogs exhibit only one sign of this disease while others show many signs.

– Luxating patella has four diagnostic grades.

Grade I- The patella can be manually luxated but easily returns to its normal position when released. Dogs may or may not carry the affected leg.

Grade II- The patella can be manually luxated and remains out of place until manually replaced. Patient carries the affected leg.

Grade III- Patella remains luxated most of the time but can be manually replaced back into position. Patient carries most of the body weight with the front legs and carries the affected legs.

Grade IV- Permanent luxation of the patella and cannot be manually repositioned. There can be difficulty in extending the leg fully because the quadriceps muscle group starts to shorten. Patient carries most of the body weight with the front legs and carries the affected legs.

– Failure to correct the condition will wear out the patellar ridges making the groove become shallower. The dog will become more lame and eventually affect the joint, causing swollen knee with poor mobility. Immediate treatment of this disease prevents crippling your dog because arthritis of the joint.

– Treatment of this disease is based on its severity although most cases (grades II, III and IV) require surgery. Surgery involves deepening of the groove at the end of the femur (sulcoplasty). Other ways to manage luxating patella in Labradors can be achieved with the use of pet ramps, stairs or steps in traveling from one place to another, especially up and down.