Luxating patella in dogs is a condition common in smaller dogs like Bichon Frises, Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, and miniature and toy poodles.
Patella luxation, or slipping stifles can be caused by an injury such as a strain, or it can be congenital ( inherited).
The best way to prevent having a dog with luxation of the patella is to ask the breeder if any of the dogs related to your puppy-of-choice has had this problem.
In addition, if you have your puppy-of-choice examined by a veterinarian, the vet can tell you if there is an inherited problem.
What is Luxating Patella in Dogs?
Patella luxation is dislocation of the kneecap or patella bone. The patella becomes dislocated when there is an abnormality in the stifle or knee joint. The abnormality of the joint allows the kneecap (patella) to slip out of place or become dislocated.
The condition is common in small dogs like Bichon Frises. The best way to avoid having a dog who will require one or more patella surgeries, is to do your homework—before you purchase a Bichon.
Ask about a puppy’s family history and take the puppy to a veterinarian for a thorough exam, before taking your new puppy home.
These simple steps will save you heartache, money and time!
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Patella Luxation
Normally the Bichon Frise’s kneecap lies in a groove at the lower end of the thigh bone. It is held in place in the groove by strong elastic ligaments.
If the groove has not developed fully, the kneecap can leave its normal position and slide to the side.
A dog who has this condition will usually start to show symptoms when he is 5 to 6 months old. He may carry the leg off the ground, limp intermittently and he may have trouble straightening his leg.
There is little or no pain with this condition, but, if two legs are involved, your dog will become lame.
What to Do if You Suspect Patella Dislocation
If your dog has been injured or starts to show signs of a dislocated patella, make sure you have your veterinarian examine her.
A vet can tell if your dog has the condition–by palpating (feeling the joint) and by taking an x-ray.
If your Bichon does have a patella dislocation and a malformed joint, the condition can be corrected by luxating patella surgery. Fortunately modern orthopedic veterinary surgeons have been successful with this surgery.
However, as with most conditions, take your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect a problem. The sooner this condition is corrected, the better the chances of its being successful.
In addition, give your dog a good joint supplement to keep his joints mobile and healthy. If all else fails, you can get a dog knee brace that will stabilize the joint. Your vet may suggest using a knee brace before or after luxating patella surgery.