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Helping your dog with
Luxating Patella

Luxating Patella (LP) is a condition where your dog's knee cap is dislocating from the groove it normally slides in. There are 4 grades of severity, 1 being mild and 4 being severe. 50% of dogs with LP in one of their knees usually see it in the other too. All dogs with LP will develop secondary Osteoarthritis and are also predisposed to Cruciate Ligament injuries - both of which are helped with therapy.

Luxating Patella Overview

Signs of LP

Typical LP is really easy to spot as your dog will have a 'skip' in their step, where they seem to miss a stride with one hind limb and then put it down again as if nothing happened. This is actually the point where the patella (knee cap) pops out, stopping the limb from extending back down to the floor.

It's commonly seen in small and / or bow-legged breeds such as Jack Russel, Chihuahua and Bichon Frise.

Causes of LP

The patella sits underneath the patella tendon which connects the quadriceps muscle to the shin bone, much like it does in humans. Sometimes, the place where the tendon attached onto the bone is not central, meaning that when that muscle is contracted there is uneven pull on the patella causing it to slide sideways (normally to the inside of the leg). Sometimes, the groove the patella sits in is too shallow meaning that it can pop out too easily despite normal musculature. Other causes include injury, commonly seen in sporting / agility dogs.

Treatment of LP

Only Grade 1 and possibly 2 are treated conservatively. Some Grade 2 cases and all Grade 3 -4 cases require surgery to correct it. After surgery, rehabilitation is essential to ensure the recovery of the joint and correct muscular function is optimal. All dogs with LP, whether they are conservatively or surgically managed will develop secondary osteoarthritis in the affected leg over time. Therapy can help significantly reduce this and prolong the onset.

What can we do about it?

Plenty! We have numerous modalities in clinic that we have at our finger tips to help your dog. These include massage, soft tissue mobilisation, stretching, joint mobilisations, targeted exercises, laser therapy, hydrotherapy... shall we continue? These have all been shown to reduce pain, restore muscle function and strength, and improve your dog's quality of life. With each session they undergo constant review of their clinical signs and progression in order to gain maximum recovery at a pace that's comfortable for them.


For Post - Operative Patients, we have a comprehensive programme tailored for your dog's specific needs, depending on the type of surgery, how successful the surgery was and their recovery so far. For Conservative Management Patients, we will always assess their pain levels, degree of mobility, muscle strength, amongst more, to enable us to create the most successful treatment plan for them.


Alongside what we do with your beloved pooch, there are a number of things outside of the clinic that can help them manage their condition or rehabilitation. Please find information in the sections below!  

Home Modifications


Wooden floors and stairs are a big slip hazard for your dog. Try using non-slip mats along the main routes of your house. Alternatively, some dogs may benefit from paw pads (please speak to us before trying this option in case of contraindication).

Feeding Stations

Raising their water and food bowls may seem like a insignificant change to us, but it can really help your dog to be in a more neutral position.

Access to Furniture

Jumping up and down from heights if often a cause of additional pain for your dog. If they enjoy a cuddle on the sofa or the bed, make it easier for them with dog-friendly steps or ramps onto furniture. This also applies to getting in / out of cars! You may also find a sling to be useful.

Keeping Warm

Especially important in the colder months, your dog will benefit from staying warmer. Keep them in a jumper and walk them out with coats. Stay dry too!

Sleeping / Resting Areas

Great quality sleep is essential. Ensure their sleeping area is free from any drafts and in a warm spot. Their bedding should be supportive and not restrictive. Memory foam mattresses without rigid or tall sides are best. Make sure your dog can access the bed and can change position / stretch out easily.

Be Wary of Terrain

Different types of terrain in the garden and on walks can be hazardous, such as steep slopes, loose or uneven surfaces. Be mindful to where they are going.

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