Canine Kneecap Dislocation

Canine Kneecap Dislocation is a common and painful injury that can affect dogs of all sizes and breeds. It occurs when their patella, or kneecap, slips out of its groove in the thigh bone and slides down their leg. This can cause significant pain for your pet and needs immediate veterinary attention.

The cause of knee cap dislocation is often due to traumatic injury but can also be seen in dogs with weak hind limbs, conformation abnormalities in their knee joint or in cases of osteoarthritis. In some cases, no cause can be identified.

Symptoms of Canine Kneecap Dislocation

If your dog has kneecap dislocation, they might have some obvious symptoms. These include:

  • Limping
  • Pain when walking or when pressure is applied to the limb
  • Swelling or bruising around their knee joint
  • Visible misalignment of their leg bones

Your pup might also yelp in pain when trying to move their affected limb.

Diagnosing Canine Kneecap Dislocation

Your veterinarian will likely diagnose their kneecap dislocation through a physical examination and X-rays. The exam will help determine the extent of their injury and its cause.

Stages of Canine Kneecap Dislocation

There are three stages of kneecap dislocation, each one representing a different degree of severity. The stages are:

Subluxation Stage:

This is the mildest form of knee cap dislocation and occurs when the patella slips out of its groove but doesn’t move far down the leg.

Dislocation Stage:

This is a moderate form of kneecap dislocation and occurs when the patella moves further down the thigh bone and is visible to the naked eye.

Luxation Stage:

This is the most severe form of knee cap dislocation and occurs when the patella slides completely off the thigh bone, leaving it in a rotated position.

Treating Canine Kneecap Dislocation

Treating kneecap dislocation will vary depending on the severity of their injury. In most cases surgery will be needed to reposition and secure the patella back in its groove with the thigh bone. The procedure typically includes a combination of soft tissue manipulation, ligament repair, and joint realignment to stabilize the knee joint. After surgery, your pet might need to wear a cast or splint to keep their joint in place and allow it to heal properly.

In mild cases of kneecap dislocation, your veterinarian might try to manually reposition the patella back into its groove without needing surgery. This repositioning is done under general anesthesia and can be very successful in dogs with no underlying problems.

Preventing Canine Kneecap Dislocation

To help prevent kneecap dislocation, make sure your pup is getting enough exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight can put extra stress on their knee bones and ligaments, making them more prone to injury. You’ll also want to keep an eye on their gait when they move, as dogs with bow-legged or knock-knocked legs are more likely to have a knee cap dislocation.

If your pup has a knee cap dislocation, it’s important to get treatment right away for the best outcome. With proper care and treatment, most dogs can make a full recovery from a kneecap dislocation.