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Patellar Luxation

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Patellar Luxation
Patellar Luxation | Innovet Pet

One of the best parts about having the honor of being a dog owner is watching your puppy play and experiencing the outdoors with your doggy. Hikes are more fun when your dog comes along, and puppies can even take walks in the pouring rain an exciting adventure. Dogs are not for the homebody, for they require a lot of outdoor time, physical exercise, and stimulating activities. Dog owners know just how active canines can be.

So when your dog falls ill with some sort of health condition or physical impairment, the change in behavior can be quite a hard adjustment. In this blog post, our focus is on patellar luxation and how it affects dogs in particular. We will calm your worries by first discussing patellar luxation for dogs in great detail, and then segue into a conversation about how to resolve the adverse side effects of a luxating patella.

Luxating Patellas: What is Patellar Luxation?

As soon as pet owners realize that something is wrong with their pet, they tend to immediately call the vet, or in the most serious of cases, they rush their pets to the emergency veterinarian’s office. If you have ever found yourself being informed that your dog has a case of patellar luxation, you know how daunting the term can sound.

If you’ve never run into the phrase before, you might be a bit perplexed as to what a diagnosis of patellar luxation means. In order to understand what patellar luxation is, let’s break the terminology down into its two parts. First, how about we tackle the word patellar. What is that?

Well, patellar is the adjective form of patella, which refers to the kneecap. Logically, dogs have four kneecaps -- one for each leg. Patellas in dogs connect the upper thigh muscle to the tibia, which is a muscle near the calf region of the lower leg. The patella sits at the front of the knee, while the patellar ligament is situated between the tibia and the upper thigh muscle. The patellar ligament essentially acts as a connector between the two.

Now, let’s move onto luxation. What could that possibly be? Luxation is another word for dislocation. When a body part moves in an unusual way and a joint is rotated out of its socket in the process, luxation has occurred. It can happen as a result of accidents or serious injuries, but sometimes, your dog might just move awkwardly and cause dislocation to occur.

Let’s say your pupper jumped off the couch and onto hardwood flooring. Your little guy wasn’t acting recklessly or playing too hard. He just happened to perform an action that his joints aren’t used to, thereby inflicting patellar luxation.

So, in summary, patellar luxation is the dislocation of a kneecap. Luxating patellas are very serious situations. Not only is a dislocated kneecap incredibly painful, but it can result in swelling and other joint problems if the condition is not address0ed immediately.

How Does Dog Patellar Luxation Affect Canines?

Patellar Luxation | Innovet Pet

Patellar luxation reduces the mobility of dogs. As you can imagine, having a dislocated kneecap is a very painful predicament in which you could ever find yourself. By putting it into perspective, you can understand the implications of patellar luxation for your dog.

If you were incapacitated on account of your kneecap popping out of its natural position, you would have trouble accomplishing your daily tasks. From walking more than two steps and using the bathroom, to getting out of bed and making it to the kitchen for food, your day-to-day reality would be upturned and completely different. As a result, you would suddenly require assistance from a caretaker at nearly all times of the day.

The same goes for dogs with dislocated kneecaps. Everything becomes so much more difficult when patellar luxation for dogs is involved. Nearly immediately after the dislocation of a dog’s kneecap takes place, the symptoms take over. Some dogs manage the pain better than others, and in these cases, they will try to walk anyway. At best, your pup will limp and obviously favor the non-dislocated side of the body over the other.

Patellar Luxation Symptoms That You Should Look Out For

There are many signs that indicate the fact that your dog probably has patellar luxation.

Some of the patellar luxation symptoms for dogs are...

  • Obvious limps that you can't miss
  • Whimpering or hesitation when moving
  • Inflammation and swelling around the kneecap
  • Avoidance surrounding any type of movement
  • Outward expressions of pain
  • Refusing to bend their legs to sit or when lying down
  • Wobbly legs
  • Shaky stance when moving around
  • Lack of interest in playing catch with frisbees or chasing balls
  • Preference for sleeping or lounging instead of getting exercise of any kind
  • Hiding from people your dog knows or displaying signs of dog anxiety
  • Behavior that seems uncharacteristic of your dog

Patellar luxation, in the most extreme cases, creates side effects that are very obvious and rather unique to the condition. Visible dislocation of the kneecap is a tell-tale sign of patellar luxation, for the irregular positioning of the kneecap will be clear as day. However, in the less severe cases of kneecap dislocation, the symptoms are very similar to the signs of many other illnesses and health concerns. For that reason, we always recommend that you visit your dog’s veterinarian if you suspect something is wrong with your canine companion. It’s far better to be safe than it is to be sorry.

The Three Main Causes of Canine Luxating Patellas

We lightly touched on the cause of dislocated kneecaps in dogs a little earlier, but we will go more in-depth here. To start, a luxating patella can arise from a variety of situations. Though the details and circumstances leading up to patellar luxation are different from one instance to another, there are three general categories of the causes behind dislocated kneecaps.

The three broad origins behind patellar luxation are…

  1. The result of a traumatic experience
  2. Pre-existing situation from birth
  3. Late onset of complications that appear after birth

Often, a dog will develop a dislocated kneecap from playing rough, landing on legs in a jarring manner, or being jolted in some direction will moving at a high speed. Any sudden movement that your dog is not used to involving the legs can cause the dislocation of a kneecap to occur. Overactivity as a puppy can also cause patellar luxation if the joints were not given time to recover before hardcore playtime resumed.

Innate bone structure plays a role in unavoidable instances of patellar luxation in dogs, while lifestyle and environmental factors, such as diet and nutrition, can inflict the development of patellar luxation. One common outcome of unhealthy food intake is obesity, which yields a heavier body, and thus, more pressure on the legs of your pup. This added weight causes the legs and knees to work harder than they normally would. Muscle tissue can erode from the weight of your dog’s body pushing down on the kneecaps, and eventually causing luxation of the patella.

Canine Patellar Luxation: The Four Levels of Seriousness

Not all instances of dislocated kneecaps are the same. Patellar luxation in dogs presents itself in four different ways, each of which denotes a different level of severity. The four types of patellar luxation are distinguished by grade, where Grade One is the least concerning and Grade Four is the most severe case of patellar luxation possible.

Grade One is defined as the lesser of the four grades of patellar luxation severity. In cases of Grade One kneecap dislocation, a dog's tibia will have been rotated to a very minor degree, meaning it was dislocated minimally but not nearly as bad as you'd see in the other three grades. Little to no rehabilitation is needed following a case of a grade one luxating patella. Zero, if any, the lateral deviation will be present, and the dog's bones will not have been affected by the subtle knee rotation.

This level of severity regarding patellar luxation is what people are referring to when they mention that they popped their kneecaps back into place. Grade One is the only case in which the kneecap will slide back into its proper position without much effort. The reason for this is that the movement of the kneecap will have been minor enough that no other bones, joints, or ligaments were damaged in the process of the kneecap slightly dislocating.

Grade Two patella luxation is represented by a thirty-degree deviation. Grade Two is obviously more of a concern than a Grade One situation, but even then, a Grade Two patellar luxation can be reversed by slipping the kneecap back into place. Doing so might require more force than you think, so we don't exactly suggest that you perform the relocation of your dog's kneecap on your own.

Instead, your best bet is to play it safe and leave the procedure to professionals. Your dog will experience recognizable pain while enduring a Grade Two knee dislocation, but it will be to a tolerable degree. Even so, it is always wise to seek medical attention sooner than later.

Grade Three is one of two levels of severity that signify serious concern, the other being Grade Four. These two grades of seriousness are much harder to come back from than the two before them, though it is still possible for your dog to make a full recovery!

Luxating patellas that register as Grade Three dislocations are teetering on the cusp of being irreversible if treatment is not sought or received as soon as possible. At Grade Three, your dog runs the risk of developing long-lasting and life-long arthritis.

Thankfully, surgery is not an absolute for dogs with Grade Three patellar luxation. However, on the flip side, your dog might experience persistent luxation throughout the rest of his or her life. It is not fatal, but it will be a life-altering situation that your dog will learn to adjust to.

The degree of deviation for a Grade Three luxating patella falls anywhere between thirty and fifty degrees. Although your dog cannot walk on a kneecap of Grade Three dislocation, let alone put any amount of weight on said kneecap, the patella has not been entirely pulled from its natural position. The knee will appear very out of place, though not entirely limp as in the case of a Grade Four luxation.

Grade Four represents the most damaging and pain-inducing level of patellar luxation. With a dislocated knee of this nature, dogs are certainly going to be in great deals of pain. This is not shocking in the slightest, however, because with a Grade Four knee dislocation, your pet will be dealing with a deviation of ninety degrees or more.

At this point, the kneecap has been dislocated so intensely that your dog's leg is immobile and you can expect to hear howling of serious volume. You can tell upon looking if your dog is experiencing Grade One dislocation by looking at the position of the leg. If your dog's knee is lying flat while the thigh is elevated, or if your pup's upper leg is straight out but the lower leg is limp at the knee, then Grade Four is most likely the case.

Pain levels of a Grade Four luxating patella are nearly unbearable. Immediate attention is required and surgery should be expected, if not absolutely necessary. Your dog is not doomed for eternity by any means. It is vital that you address the dislocated kneecap as soon as you're aware of its presence, especially because not doing so might result in perpetual damage is disfiguration of your dog's entire leg.

How to Treat Patellar Luxation: CBD for Patellar Luxation in Dogs

While there are many options for the treatment of patellar luxation, CBD is unlike anything else. Even though CBD oil cannot pop your dog’s knee back into place, cannabidiol may be an essential component in your canine’s healing process. Cannabidiol can be purchased online from retailers that have e-commerce stores. The CBD for dogs that is sold by Innovet is your best bet for cannabidiol oil that won’t disappoint.

Every dog is different and we know that some dogs won’t take well to an external application of CBD. If your dog has sensitive skin, your dog is in the clear for CBD oil for dogs. Cannabidiol won’t irritate the hair follicles or fur of your pup, but we don’t advise placing CBD directly onto open wounds. That said, some puppers aren’t the biggest fans of having oil on them. You know your dog better than anyone, so if you think that your canine companion will likely scratch, bite, or lick their coat after you apply CBD oil, then you should definitely consider exploring the other CBD options in our inventory!

A huge bonus is that Innovet offers a variety of CBD-based products. We’ve talked about oil in great lengths throughout the article, but you don’t necessarily need to purchase CBD oil for your dogs with patellar luxation.

Beyond CBD oil, another option for managing patellar luxation pain is with CBD capsules. You can insert the powder directly into your dog’s dinner bowl and same goes with the oil, the oil however can be directly given to your pup orally which is the most common method for application. The advantage with the capsules is that they are already measured out for you while the oil requires you to take the extra step in assuring it is the right dosage using the dropper.

Our CBD capsules contain 120 milligrams of cannabidiol per soft gel, and you can give your dog up to three pills per day. The heavier and the taller your dog is, the higher the chance your pup will require more than one soft gel per day in order to benefit from the CBD.

We also have CBD dog treats and soft chews that you can use on their own or as an addition alongside CBD oil and capsules. However, for the safety of your dog, we want to emphasize how important it is to keep an eye on the amount of CBD you give to your dog at one time.

For example, depending on your dog’s weight and height measurements, you might need to reduce the number of soft gels that you administer to your pupper if you plan to give your dog a few treats or chewy snacks throughout the day, too. Before you give CBD to your dog, research the appropriate CBD dosing for your dog.

We also offer chews for dogs that may provide additional support when it comes to hip mobility and joint movement. Patellar luxation limits your dog's range of motion as well as hinders their ability to move around. Instead of running about and playing without a care, dogs with patellar luxation are limited by their pain.

By using Innovet's advanced mobility supplement for hip and joint support your dog can find relief from the intensity of pain that patellar luxation imposes. If you notice your dog whimpering or appearing to be in debilitating pain, our joint support soft chews could be the miracle your pup dreams about during their naps.

From CBD oil and soft gels, to snacks and treats, your dog will surely love CBD from Innovet! All of our products are made with phytocannabinoid oils derived from hemp plants that are grown in Colorado. The CBD is extracted by way of the cold CO2 extraction process, too. We create our CBD products with your pet in mind, and therefore, you can rest assured with the truth that Innovet CBD products for dogs with patellar luxation are 100% safe for canines.


Kneecap Dislocation in Dogs
Luxating Patella in Dogs
Patellar Luxations
Medial Luxating Patella in Dogs


Approved by:

Dr. Sara Ochoa

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University

Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


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The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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