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Luxating Patellas

"Luxating" is a fancy word for dislocating. Patella is your dog's "knee", the joint on the front of her/his hind leg. So a luxating patella is a dislocating knee or as some have nick named it; trick knee, a knee that keeps slipping out of its socket. This can happen in Boston Terriers and certain toy breeds with weak ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles. It can also happen other breeds in pups whose kneecap groove is too narrow or shallow. The knee usually slips inwardly, toward the body, and locks so that your dog can't bend her/his leg.

Does My Dog Have a Luxating Patella?
You might suspect a luxating patella if your Boston Terrier sometimes lifts one hind leg while running, or if she/he often moves both rear legs at the same time, like a hopping bunny. Sometimes the knee slips only for a few moments and then slides back into place. Sometimes the knee slips out and stays out, and your Boston will hold her/his leg off the ground and limp, perhaps tucking the thigh into her/his body.

Luxation may occur in one knee, or in both. It is seen in many small breeds, and in both sexes. Even if the knees seem to be firm as puppies, it is not a bad idea to have have your dog's patellas checked every two years by your veterinarian.

Is luxation serious?
There are four degrees (grades) of luxation:
Grade I. The knee only slips out when the vet manipulates it.

Grade II. The knee luxates occasionally when the dog is walking or running. He/she may not seem to mind much, or they may shriek, but it usually slides back by itself as they continues moving. Or you can slip it back manually (ask the vet to show you how).

Grade III. The knee luxates frequently and causes chronic lameness. Even when you put it back manually, it doesn't seem to last long.

Grade IV. The knee luxates, stays that way, and you can't put it back into its socket. This grade is very rare but happens.

How is luxation treated?

* The first treatment should be to crate or keep the dog in a small area for a week or two and supervise all activity - no jumping or running.

* Most veterinarians will prescribe a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (like Rimadyl or another NSAID). However, these will only hide the symptoms and may reduce some of the inflammation, but do absolutely nothing to strengthen or correct the condition.

* Some veterinarians will prescribe Steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These have proven to be extremely damaging to the immune system, have awful side effects (short and long term), and in my opinion, should never be used.

*Surgery is seldom the answer and if needed, should only be done by an orthopedic surgeon if the dog is in chronic pain.

If you decide on surgery, please call the American College of Veterinary Surgeons at (301) 718-6504 and ask for a referral to an orthopedic specialist or college of veterinary medicine in your state.

If surgery is your choice, be aware that the dog may very likely have problems down the road with arthritis from the surgery. In the opinion of most veterinarians, surgery is overkill for Grade I or II luxating patella. I personally would only go with surgery on a Grade IV luxation, or on a Grade III that did not respond to natural treatment and the dog was in constant pain. Surgery costs around a thousand dollars per patella, it is uncomfortable for your dog, and there is a 50% chance that some degree of luxation will return at some point in time.

Natural ways to treat Luxating Patellas:

* Feed a species appropriate raw food diet. At the very least, a home cooked diet of meat with no grains or vegetables. Fresh, raw, pulverized greens such as clover or alfalfa sprouts, chard, kale etc. once every week or two if you feel the need to feed your carnivore pet some vegetation.

* Keep your dog lean. (Fat dogs have to carry more weight on their weak leg joint).

* Moderate exercise, walking up slight inclines (gentle hills), will strengthen the muscle groups around the patella.

Vitamin C is one of the building blocks of strong ligaments and connective tissue.

Proteolytic Enzymes are a natural alternative to NSAIDS -proteolyic enzymes work with the body’s innate mechanisms to promote healing and allow inflammation to progress naturally. They support the production of various cytokines, activate large proteins, such as alpha-2-macroglobulins, and slow the clotting mechanism, which provokes a healthier healing response.

Glucosamine supplements such as Glyco-Flex or Dog Gone Pain or Artho Aid are nutritional products packed with minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and lubricating agents. They build cartilage and cushioning fluid in injured joints, and help heal damaged connective tissue.

Acupuncture, Homeopathy and especially the application of *therapeutic grade essential oils have also been very effective in easing the pain and raising the body's electrical frequencies to strengthen the joints and tendons while easing the pain of luxating patellas.

*Please note, I only use and recommend Young Living Essential Oils due to their true, pure, therapeutic quality. They have tested pure and safe enough to be taken internally as supplements and are even labeled as such.

NOTE: A consultation with an animal naturopath or natural animal health care practitioner that specializes in the modality you are interested in using with your dog is highly recommended.

What causes luxating patella in the first place?

Occasionally it's caused by an injury, but in the absence of such proof, it is almost always weak tendons and/or a shallow kneecap groove. Luxating patella(s) is considered hereditary.
Never, Ever, breed a Boston Terrier (or any breed of dog) with any degree of luxation (even a "wiggly" knee), whether it has been repaired or not. Fixing the knee doesn't fix the genes that caused the problem.

OFA Certification

The Orthopedic Foundation of America will issue registration numbers to dogs whose patellas have been examined by a veterinarian, forwarded to the OFA, and found to be normal. For More Information visit the Orthopedic Foundation of America

Boston Terrier Club Of America

Chihuahua Kingdom Retrieved February 1998 from the WWW

Shumsky, Terri (1993) How to buy your Toy Dog, and Raise it Expensively

Disclaimer: Copyright 2006 - 2015 The Whole Dog, Whole Dog News Blog, Dr. Jeannie Thomason, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher.

All the articles at The Whole Dog.org. Whole Dog News.com have been researched and reviewed for accuracy and are for educational purposes, they are not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a holistic veterinarian or other qualified animal health professional. The Whole Dog, Whole Dog News, and Dr. Jeannie Thomason does not assume any legal responsibility.