Experience with luxating patellas and ligament abnormalities

    • Puppy

    Experience with luxating patellas and ligament abnormalities

    Last year I lost a hybrid dog at six and a half. He was a maltzu. Loved him dearly. Among his other issues, cancer, he had a luxating patella, grade 4 in the right leg and a 3 in the left leg. We spent approximately $6,000 to have both knees fixed. The grade four was never successfully repaired before his death. He was purchased from a middle man that worked for a breeder.

    I decided to rescue a dog this time around. Olaf is a sweet Bichon-poo. He is 1 1/2 years old. Being paranoid because of my last pup's problems, I took him to a surgeon. He found a grade 1 luxation in the right leg. His grooves are deep enough, however, the ligament is loose. The left leg is graded at a level 0-1.

    Is there anyone out there has had a dog with a grade 1 luxation? Or a weakened ligament? Suggestions for activities to avoid? We walk an hour each day. Can the grade 1 change over time? The vet says to try to avoid CCL tears.

    It seems as if no matter where I look to adopt a pet, my small dogs seem to come with luxating patellas. I know that there is great advice out there. Thanks

    • Bronze

    Good for you for rescuing Olaf. Luxating patellas are unfortunately common in small breeds. Our Pixie, a Shih-poo (now passed on) was diagnosed with a mild luxating patella (with a grade higher than Olaf as I recall), which did not appear to be a real problem. However, at age 8, Pixie tore her CCL while running zoomies in the yard. We arranged for her to have surgery to repair the CCL, but while waiting for the surgery date we joined two Yahoo groups: Orthodogs (which is now primarily on Facebook) and Conservative Management (representing the “for" and “against" experiences re orthopedic surgery for dogs) to learn everything we could. Because of Pixie's small size and mature age, we found out that she was a good candidate for Conservative Management, and canceled surgery. A few months later, after strict crate rest and restricted activity, Pixie was as good as new. We are very pleased that Pixie was able to avoid surgery for both her patella and CCL problems.

    Your concerns are understandable, especially given your past experience; our new puppy, Max (6 months old) recently started limping badly and we were very worried that it was a torn CCL or luxating patella serious enough to need surgery. It turned out that it was “only" a small fracture just below his knee, requiring just a cast. No one knows how it happened, but the orthovet suspects it was caused by jumping up on something.

    The most important thing you can do to keep Olaf's joints healthy is to maintain him at a trim weight – so do avoid overfeeding. Physical fitness is also important, and the long walks you take with your dog should be good for both of you. As we found with Max, jumping up may be hard on knees, so to make things easier for Olaf, you might pick him up or even get some stairs or a ramp for him to use when getting into your bed, car, favorite chair, etc.