The patella is the kneecap for both . It’s attached to the shinbone at one end & to powerful thigh muscles at the other end. It sits at the front of the stifle joint (the knee joint in dogs & cats). When the knee functions normally, the patella rides smoothly along a groove in the femur. This groove is there to keep the patella where it belongs, which will allow for increased joint flexibility & provide leverage to the knee.
A luxatingpatella occurs when the groove of the femur is too shallow, causing the patella to slide out of place & move too far to one side or the other. This can lead to a weakening of the ligaments which hold the patella in place. The condition is more common in toy dogs but it could affect or larger dogs. Occasionally it’s caused by trauma but most of the time it’s a genetic birth defect known as “polygenic trait.” Luxating patella generally presents by six months of age. Its appearance could be relatively subtle. You might notice a skip in your pets step bunnyhop or they might hold one paw in the air & not let it touch the ground. It might appear that only one leg is affected but often both knees will suffer from the same condition. A luxating patella can be felt from the outside & you’ll be able to actually move the kneecap out of place. Large dogs who suffer from luxating patella tend to have other conditions as well. Likely, they’ll have poor skeletal alignment & stand knock-kneed. Luxating patella falls into one of 4 categoriesories: Grade I: patella can be luxated manually but won’t move by itself. It will naturally return to its normal position if left alone. Grade II: patella might spontaneously luxate but can return to normal position either manually or when the pet straightens the stifle joint. Grade III: patella remains luxated most of the time but can be moved back into the correct position manually. Grade IV: patella is permanently luxated & can’t be repositioned. Should your pet require surgery, your veterinarian & staff will provide detailed instructions for you to follow pre & postoperatively.