Luxating Patella-need vet help


Feb 5, 2006
I know there are a few vet/vet assistant's here, so i was wondering...

My dog has been diagnosed with luxating patella in both hind knees by three seperate vets. They have given me varying degrees of the severity of it. all have said she will most likely need surgery on both knees in the future.

Maya is also overweight. I have had her on diet food for a few months with absolutely no results whatsoever. She is currently on Wellness. I had been taking her for a walk every night for about 2 1/2 weeks prior to Christmas, until her kneecap begin slipping again. I should say that previously her kneecap slipped out a total of one time when I took her to the vet for the initial diagnosis. So it has not happened since then up until now. It began to happen for three days in a row, I of course took her to the vet and they told me to let her rest. So no more walks. It happened for another two days, I went away for 11 days, and have been told by DH's mom that it happened the first day she was there and not again. My problem is that she needs to lose weight to help her knees.

Okay so...I've been researching on the internet and honestly I'm not able to find alot of information. But I hear that canine physical therapy can work wonders...which is usually swimming. So my bright idea is...would it be a good idea to put Maya in my bathtub, and let her tread water? I canot find a place that does this where I live, even though we have the same course at the university here.

Also, she will most likely have arthritis in the future, should I be putting her on a Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplement now?

I know I need to go and talk to an orthopaedic surgeon about this...but in the meantime any information would be appreciated.
Let me start by saying, I don't know how helpful this will be - I'm certainly no vet and I've never even had a dog...:rolleyes:

But I actually have luxating patellas myself, in both of my knees. I've had the problem since i was about 12 and I went through years of physical therapy. I'd dislocate a kneecap, let it rest and heal, and then do about 6 months of 3x a week physical therapy....until it happened again...then the cycle would repeat. I knew I was damaging my knees, but I always healed pretty fast and didn't have any lasting effects.

But in college, I had a particularly bad dislocation and was in severe pain for a long time afterwards and couldn't bend my knee fully. After this episode, I finally went do a very specialized doctor and he was horrified that my regular orthopedic surgeon hadn't done surgery sooner. So, I finally had one of my knees surgically fixed when I was 19 and it worked wonders. I wish I had done it sooner and spared myself all the years of physical therapy.

I just want to caution you about waiting and trying physical therapy. For me, it didn't work at all and everytime the kneecap dislocates, more damage is done and repeats become more likely because the ligaments get streched out. But like I said...I'm not a vet...and I'm certainly not a dog:P Hope your dog feels better soon!
Thanks Kate79, that's actually really helpful. I have heard that its better to go ahead with the surgery before the condition gets any worse. I'm going to make an appointment for Maya to see my old vet and see if he can reccomend an orthopedic surgeon and go from there. Until then I'd like to get started, I've read that before surgery they try to get in a couple weeks of physical therapy, but I figure it would probably be a good idea to possibly build some strength and get her a little more fit.

Purplekitty, thanks for the well wishes!!
Definitely have your vet refer an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the best plan for Maya. As for doing PT on your in a tube, I wouldn't...:yes: It is bit different than swimming... Where in TN do you live? There are few sites you can educate yourself about the disease with -> Small Animal Fact Sheets
ACVS - Medial Patellar Luxations (You can search specialists in the area you live on this site, too) As for searching info, search with keywords using patellar luxation, canine, physical therapy and you should get a good list.
Good luck!
Thanks for the ACVS website especially Tiramisu!! That's really helpful and wow! not many board certified vets where I live! scary. I've got the number of an orthopedic surgeon now, however it says referrals only...
I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again!:flowers:
Thanks Kate79, that's actually really helpful. I have heard that its better to go ahead with the surgery before the condition gets any worse. I'm going to make an appointment for Maya to see my old vet and see if he can reccomend an orthopedic surgeon and go from there.

Glad I was able to help somewhat. That sounds like a good plan. Quick treatment will probably minimize any future arthritis. Best Wishes!
Yes, it is better to get some weight off of her before the surgery, have you tried adding canned pumpkin or green beans to her food to help her eat less?
^^ either no-salt added green beans or plain canned pumpkin can be added to her normal food to help fill her up without adding calories. Also, have you tried Solid Gold Hunden Flocken? It is a very low fat, low cal food.It has been a couple (ok, closer to 10) years since I took canine nutrition, but I bet the basics are still the same, add veggies to fill them up, do not feed anything with crappy ingredients
I don't have info about Maya's condition either, but she will be in my prayers!!

I am just crossing my fingers that my Chis don't get luxating patellas bc I know that is is sooo prevalent among the breed :sad:
i used to work at a vets (until i quit 3 weeks ago) and witnessed several of the surgeries as the main vet at the practice was the "go to guy" for luxating patellas. from what i saw and heard, the worse the arthritis, the harder the surgery on both the vet and the pet and the longer the recovery. i'd rec. getting it done sooner rather than later.

as far as weight loss, i don't know if you've got your pet on prescription food, but that's what my boss had all the overweight pets on. my mom, however, has a very obese beagle and the prescription foods didn't work very well. she had him tested for thyroid problems, got him on soloxine, and now he's just chubby :smile:

then, as far as the medicine for arthritis, we had a lot of pets on rimadyl (NSAID). long term use can lead to liver problems, though, so the pets who were continually on it had liver enzymes tested every 3 months.

good luck with everything tho. i can only imagine how concerned you must be.
Perhaps I need to be looking into a better food for Maya, I thought Wellness was good, but obviously I want the best. I had no idea there was prescription food...when I go to the vet I'll ask about that and also talk about the green beans and pumpkin. I already give her carrots as treats, and I think I remember my old vet saying something about green beanns.

I have read that Rimadyl can be really bad and to avoid putting your dog on it. She doesn't have arthritis yet and isn't in pain, but I'd like to put her on the joint supplement if possible to avoid that. Something for lubrication or to help build back the cartilage.

Maya isn't extremely overweight, she needs to lose about 3 pounds. For a 9 1/2 pound chihuahua that's alot. And so far they are very stubborn pounds to lose! just like her mommy. lol

I have alot to talk about with my vet!!! Thanks for all your help and wishes, I really appreciate it.:flowers: :flowers:
There is a lot of constant discussion regarding food even among those who are in the profession. Yes, the best is to talk with your vet, but not a bad idea to try and educate yourself, too. Wellness is a good brand. Read the labels and the whole AAFCO statement. Some foods have not gone through a animal feeding trial but meets the 'AAFCO' required standards. I would always go with the major labels where they have a good history with pet food. It can be thought as simple as how we are taught to lose weight... Less calories in and excercise. It might be interesting to see the caloric contect of your dog food bag. And go along with the recommended feeding amount per what the bag says. If you doggie seems hungry, some people split the feeding into two times a day to trick them.
There are other drugs besides Rimadyl that are known to be very affective and maybe 'safer' in controlling pain for arthritic dogs. The latest is Metacam. But no drug is really 'safe'. Rimadyl and Metacam are in the drug class called Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, like Tylenol falls under. Even in the human world, taking NSAIDS long term can damage our liver. Any drugs will need to be under stric veterinarian supervision. Joint supplements are effective when given the correct dosage and amount.
And getting your animals to lose weight is always challenging! Good luck! The more you, the mommy, becomes correctly educated, the better you will be at taking care of your dog and make the decision for what is best for the dog AND you. Take advantage of your vet and ask tons of questions. Afterall, you are paying money for their service, too!
Good luck!
I had a Pomeranian with luxating patellas for 11 years. She has since passed away. She never had surgery. When her knees when out she was able to pop them back in. She was never overweight though. I now have two more Pomeranians and one has luxating patellas. She too seems to be able to pop them in when they go out. (She lifts the hind leg up in the air and gives it a little shake.) I monitor her weight very closely so that she doesn't become overweight because I know that can make the problem worse. So far no talk of surgery. IMO before resorting to surgery I would get her weight down and see how much the condition improves. Putting these littles ones under is always a risk. Keep us posted on your pooch's condition.