Affordable Prices
Affordable Prices
In-house Pathology
In-house Pathology
One Convenient Location
One Convenient Location

What are the common causes of a medially luxating patella in dogs?

A luxating patella occurs when the thigh muscles contract and push the patella ligament too far into the knee joint.

Whilst there is no definitive cause behind a luxating patella (otherwise known as a dislocated kneecap), there is a wealth of evidence that shows certain breeds are more susceptible to this condition than others.

Let's begin by taking a closer look at what medially luxating patella (MLP) is, how it can be treated and how serious it actually is for your pet.

Causes of MLP

The patella naturally moves from side to side within its groove. There is also a ligament, known as the patella ligament, which connects it to the bone below the knee joint; its purpose is to keep the knee in the correct position.

A luxating patella occurs when the thigh muscles contract and push the patella ligament too far into the knee joint. The force pulls the patella against the groove that it’s nestled in, which eventually wears the groove down. Over a period of months, the kneecap will become loose, meaning that it can then be easily displaced.

Signs & Symptoms

One of the first signs that something is not quite right with your dog is that they will begin limping or using their forelegs to move forwards whilst their hind legs lag behind. Noticing either of these symptoms will mean a veterinary visit is in your pets’ near future.

Some dogs actually learn to push their patella back into place, allowing them to walk pain-free for a time. It should be noted, however, that this will only occur for a short period – the kneecap will soon become so worn that pain and discomfort will return.

An MLP will usually occur early on in your pet’s life – if treated early, there’s every likelihood that it can be remedied. If left for too long, however, your dog may prematurely develop arthritis and may experience further complications down the track.

Can MLP be Cured?

In short, yes! Surgery can be used to deepen your dog’s patella groove, which will stop the kneecap from moving out of place. If your pet has already developed arthritis, however, their treatment may also include other procedures and/or medications to keep them as comfortable as possible. Regardless, a standard procedure will look something like this:

  1. The patella ligament will be surgically (and permanently) moved to a more appropriate location at the point of the ligament.
  2. The groove that the patella sits in will be deepened, allowing the kneecap to fit neatly inside without moving.
  3. The casing around the knee joint will be constricted, ensuring that it doesn’t move from its proper placement.

This procedure is the most effective way to help your dog to recover from an MLP.

Commonly Affected Breeds

Unfortunately, certain dogs (specifically bred toy dogs in particular) are more likely to experience a luxating patella. These breeds include:

  • Australian Silky Terriers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Chihuahuas
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Maltese Poodles
  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire Terriers

We hope that the information provided in this blog has made you better equipped to spot the signs of MLP in your dog, allowing you to take the appropriate course of action (visiting your vet) as quickly as possible.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an MLP but aren’t sure, we recommend coming in to see us at Melbourne Pet Surgery.