My Pup has a luxating patella?

sillymesillyneDecember 16, 2008


Last night one of my puppies, Flanagan, went racing down the porch steps and the next thing we knew he was howling in pain and holding his right back leg up. I thought maybe he stepped on something and he did let me check his pad and in between his toes. We got him into the house and after awhile he was able to put his leg down, But he was acting mighty strange. Pacing back and forth all over the house and wouldn't come near us.. he kept facing the wall. Eventually, that slowed down and he came up on the couch next to me. I barely touched his thigh and he growled at me. Got down and the mad pacing started all over again. I called the 24/7 Emergency Vet Hospital. Doc told me to give it a couple of hours and if not better, call back and maybe bring him in. He did get better up until 10:30 that night (he first injured himself about 2 pm?) Again, a sharp yelp (no howling, just the one yelp) and his back leg was up again. He was fine about 5 minutes after.

Called our vet this morning... after very painful exam for Flanagan vet says it is first she didn't know what it was because she started by examining his pad and in between his toes.. howls of protest and pain from Flanny...

It wasn't until she examined his foot a second time... no pain this time. Then she realized it might be a LP. She felt it in his knee. She said the reason for the pain during the first feel of his pad and toes was because she was holding his foot in such away to cause the knee to slip.

I was not there, DH took him. Anyway, she sent him home with a months worth of Rimadyl and told us he needs to go easy and if pain is still bad after 2 to 3 days he will need surgery.

She took no X rays and she told DH that he was born with the LP. Now, after researching LP on line, it seems to me that this is more of a genetic problem in small breeds. Flanagan is a Chow mix and weighs about 55 pounds. I read that this can also be caused by trauma. I don't always see eye to eye with this vet... my DH is much better with her.

What can I expect with this LP? Also, the initial run down the steps caused him terrible pain...and also during the exam. But since then the knee does go out and he has the raised back leg but only once did he yelp in pain. It has gone out at least 10 times, I'm thinking? Why does it not seem to cause him pain.. no yelping. He does seem to be managing it now. By that I mean, he doesn't look surprised when it happens and it looks like he knows to ease up on it and slowly get the leg down? Is this good news (aside for the fact that he doesn't appear to be suffering, I mean) or bad news. Can this go away. I hate the thought of surgery. Plus, it has not been easy trying to keep him quiet and resting. His very playful, high strung sister, Bridget, isn't helping matters either. Also, I started this post yesterday. So the injury actually happened on Sunday.

My Flanagan is only 10 months (as of 12/2) and I hate to see him suffer. I could use some advice and good thoughts, please. I have no idea what to expect.

Thank you and if you have any questions, just ask.


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The Rimadyl is probably helping with the pain. Since the patella has gone out 10 times since the vet visit I'd seek a second opinion for other treatment and definitely a second opinion before any surgery.

I can see why you don't see eye to eye with your vet. Mine would not have started with the foot pad but would have checked the hip and elbow first with symptoms of pain/limping.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:01PM
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I'd get a second opinion.

I have a dog that had luxating patella, but she is only 8 pounds and the breed is prone to the condition. I didn't own her when she had the surgery, I adopted her after her knees were fixed.

I wouldn't blame the vet for starting on the foot. They may have started with foot because she was told there is something wrong with my dog's foot...

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 3:16PM
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Believe me dogs can limp because of foot problems! So the vet figuring it out on the first visit is a very good sign. I do agree that the Rimadyl (which is not something you want to keep pup on long term) is eliminating most of the pain. But even if it didn't provide relief, dogs are more stoic than we are - it's part of the survival of the species not to show pain. Maybe give it 2 weeks and then talk with our vet about the surgery. Seeing a specialist for a second opinion is a very good idea.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:56PM
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I'm on my 7th (or is it the 8th, lost count) vet in about 17 years. All of those are well aware of my temper that I normally keep under control, when something goes wrong with a diagnosis concerning one of my dogs. One time, I almost threw my phone through a plate glass window. Instead, I fell to my knees and cried. This particular instance I came within a hour or so of losing my dog.

When the word "surgery" comes into the conversation, all types of red flags pop up. More than once, my caution has saved me tons of time, frustration and money.

I always make it a point to educate myself about what the vet says and gives my dogs. I also consult with other vets, just to get another opinion. What ever it takes, I want to know. With meds, I insist on a date when I should see improvement. If vet's don't want to give one, or switch more than once, they probably don't know what is going on.

I agree that the Rimadyl is probably taking care of the pain. What I don't know, and perhaps someone here can tell us, is if your breed is sensitive to it. Labs for instance should not take it due to liver issues (I think). You might want to Google this.

I love the vet I currently have, she knows how I operate and can deal with that. One of the vets I consult with is a true country vet. Country vets tend to deal with things differently than city vets. When ever I call for advice, country vet always ask's the same question: Is the situation life threatening for the dog? After I answer that, we proceed with the consultation, and work on a "path of least resistance" to get to the heart of the problem. This path of least resistance is my theory in general. All simple possibilities for a cure must be exhausted before I will listen to more difficult ideas.

I would get a different opinion, and keep looking for an alternate path.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Oh, don't get me started on misdiagnosis.
We have a dog with an old injury-rt hind leg.
We think our dog hurt herself running around at 6 months of age.

I'm still livid from what one vet did to my dog. We don't go there any longer.He operated on the wrong area. He and four of his partners (all horrible-LATER I found out lots of horror stories about that practice!)said that she had LP and operated on it.Her right hind leg is still the same after the surgery!In that practice, once one of them would make a diagnosis, the others would follow. Nobody had an independent brain...We didn't know any better. We thought that a vet is a vet. WRONG.

When we went for the first post op visit the vet said that he did something one way or another... When we took her back later,because the leg bowed out the same way he wanted to re-do it. Bells went off in our heads and we took her to 2 specialists who took x-rays & concurred that her problem was lower.
Anyway, back then, the board certified orthopod said to leave it alone & see how she does. She didn't seem to be in pain at the time.

She squated peeing with her right leg up, basically all her life. Fast forward to her age 12, she started to get some arthritis. I put her on glucosamine daily and Previcox 3 times a week. She seems to be fine. She squats with both legs on the ground now.

The point is that dogs can injure other areas, not just the knee. Your dog needs x-rays, CT or an MRI. Twelve years ago, they didn't have CTs or MRIs for dogs, when my dog had surgery. Please, if you can, go to a doggie Board certified Orthopod. Don't fool around with shoe-makers.
Which part of the country do you live in?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:38PM
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If it indeed a luxated patella, it will not heal on its own, and will get more prone to luxation each time it slips. It is very painful (imagine your bones slipping out of the joint, and the all the ligaments stretching) and basically gets worse.

Any leg problem that makes the animal shift and use the other legs in compensation creates stress on the healthy limbs, putting them in jeopardy for injury.

Therefore seek an orthopedic's opinion, and get surgery. It hurts.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 7:20PM
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First, I suggest you get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. I dont want to put unwarranted fear into the mix, but I had a general practitioner vet screw up my dogs leg, which has given him pain on an off for 10 years now. He has had 2 TPLO's done by an ortho and has recovered wonderfully. Next please use another for of pain med - Rimaydl is used alot, but it can cause problems with liver and it is expensive. I think there are other just as effective without the bad side effect pain meds which are much more affordable.
I hope you are able to find a good ortho vet. They should do x-rays, measurements and manipulate your dogs leg. Good luck, and let me say Im sorry to hear you and your puppers are going through can be frustrating.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 7:33PM
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I think by saying that I don't always see eye to eye with my vet it may have caused some confusion. My vet is not the one who would do the surgery. She does do some surgery at her practice, but not this.

Also, because Flanagan injured his leg on a Sunday I called a
vet referral only hospital. We do have a world famous 24/7 animal hospital here, in Boston. But I had such a horrible experience with them when my Tibby got suddenly sick, and he died in that hospital, I would never bring another pet there.
This vet knows how terribly wrong things went for Tibby and she gave me this vet referral hospital in case of an emergency.

When DH talked with our vet, he asked if it would be the VR hospital that would need to see Flanagan. She said no... it is a great hospital, but very, very expensive.

I do have to say, in all fairness to our vet, she doesn't charge very high prices. A visit is 30 bucks and she charges the same amount for a same day visit.

As to the rimadyl? I do have concerns about this. Out dog, Toby was put on this.. I knew the risks but he was really suffering and it was like a miracle drug for him. But, I had to have liver tests done before even putting him on it, and then had to have liver monitoring done. I asked about this when Flanagan and Bridget were neutered and spayed. I mean, I asked here, on this forum. I don't know why there doesn't seem to be any of the precautionary protocols don't seem to apply now?

I did a search of this site for LP before I posted... and it was mentioined in a answering post by Meghane... she said to save your money and not spend it on a very expensive MRA.
Anyway, there isn't any money for an MRA.. the vet said surgery would probably run between 1,000 and 1,500. That would just about cover what we have in savings.

Don't get me wrong, I would do everything I could to save Flanagan or Bridget... we had about 2 hours to get up 2,500 for Tibby before they'd do an emergency surgery. And that 2,500 was an estimated one third of the total price if he had made it off the table. We had no idea where the rest of the money would come from...but we knew it would allow us to make payments.

We are in no position to go on a fishing expedition. When Toby was old with many problems we had to insist to this doctor and her staff that everything had to be run by us, first. No surprises.. which on 2 occasions happened and we were shocked at how much we owed. For the visit.. IOW's, we were expected to pay it that day. We did it once and tried to again explain that we can't pay 3 -4 hundred dollars at one time.

Anyway, I do appreciate that you've answered me. And the good wishes are great.. but, what I really need is what to expect if we were to get another opinion, and/or what are the other alternatives to surgery? Can this get better?

And, yes, Flanagan's knee does keep going out... it is different now, though. It only last seconds before it's right again.

But since my first post, I have noticed this bowing of the leg that someone above mentioned. The problem is, I saw his other leg bow at the same time that the injured knee went out. Yesterday. He looked totally confused... and all he was able to do was sit down...the injured one outstretched, and he had that weird pacing look on his face (except, this time he couldn't pace) he stayed down for almost 20 minutes and I could tell he wanted to get up.. he was listening for his daddy's car.. he knew it was time for him to get home.

I'm still, somewhat, confused. I did read that continued LP will cause long term damage and we don't want that. Is there something else I should, specifically, ask for that might get him past this without surgery? I did read about the manipulation that someone mentioned above. I don't want to cause him pain and I aslo don't want him to bite me. Don't get me wrong, I've never before worried about him biting or hurting me. But, yesterday the vet caused him terrible, terrible pain...people in the waiting room said they had to leave it was so bad... she had his foot/pad upside down and was pulling it backwards. My DH was frantic... he said it was horrible to watch.. vet then said Flanny needed to be muzzled. At that point he didn't want anything to do with anyone. The vet then made my DH take him out of the office, yes, the office, not just the exam room, for a long walk? When he told me this, I was like WTF? A walk? A LONG walk? He's limping, he's has an injured leg!! Anyway, she said he was too leery at that point to trust any kind of contact, even from my DH, so bring him back after the walk to start fresh? Again, I guess it's a good thing my DH took him instead of me...there would have been angry words, I think.

Also, the rimadyl may be helping with his pain but it is not slowing him down. The vet said to keep him quiet and rested, limited movement. I don't know why she didn't give him a pain med that would make him sleepy. When Toby was on the rimadyl it did make him sleepy.. but he was and old dog and had lots of age related problems.. so maybe rimadyl doesn't act like typical (narcotic?) meds?

Thanks again and any new thoughts and advice would be, most, appreciated.

He's my boy and he's the sweetest dog ever. It is heart breaking to see him like this.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:00PM
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what I really need is what to expect if we were to get another opinion,

Another opinon will confirm the problem or identify another one. But luxations are not difficult to identify. You don't really need an mri to suspect one. You can feel it as you maneuver the joint.

and/or what are the other alternatives to surgery? Pain meds and anti-inflammatories will only mask the problem, increasing possible liver complications and also not inhibiting the favoring of the leg.

Can this get better? I think I explained in my other message why it will not improve without surgery. However, instead of the dog living in pain, see what another vet says. Maybe another vet will have another take on it?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:27AM
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It won't get better. From how it was described to me is that there are grooves in the dogs bones to hold the tendons in place that hold the knee in place. Each time the patella luxates, it wears those grooves shallower, so does get worse.

But from what I was explained the dog isn't in pain all the time, its only in pain when it happens. When the patella moves back into position, the pain stops.

Someone should make a little doggies knee braces to help hold those tendons in place. My next big invention.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:27AM
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Your dog needs surgery = period. If you are worried about savings contact CREDIT CARE to get a credit line going - only for vet, doc and dental work. It costs nothing but phone charges to get a referral to an ortho, ask around before you choose one. Make certain you are comfortable with the vet you choose. As for the vet putting your dog through so much agony during the exam, it was probably not warranted...the diagnosis and the exam are not that involved. Your dog is suffering now, and the longer you wait the more suffereing it will experience. If you can not afford to have the dogs injuries repaired I suggest you surrender the dog to the SPCA, where it will be taken care of. Put yourself in your dogs place. Your dog is clearly showing signs of being in agony...would you want to be in your dogs place? Please take care of the problems..good luck

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 5:02PM
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I think you are misunderstanding me. What I was trying
to say, was that there is money for the surgery, the 1,500 we have in savings. There won't be any money for an MRI,
so, I'm relieved to know that he won't need one

Flanagan will get taken care of. Giving him up is not an option and it never will be.

Can you please tell me what specific drugs I should ask for. Like I said, I am very uncomfortable with the Rimadyl

And I am assuming that after he has this surgery he would be on a narcotic type of med, yes? I would like to know more about pain meds, what to ask for, what to say no to, etc.

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to help and for your concern. Don't worry for my boy, Flanagan... he is in good hands. We went to quite a bit of trouble to get Flanny & Bridget out of the rescue/shelter down in Mississippi and up to us in Boston.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 9:32AM
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My dog is on Previcox. She tolerates it very well for a little dog.
One of my dogs was on Metacam, but started bleeding after 2 weeks. I made sure her tummy was full, but she started bleeding at the rectum area. From what I know, Rimadyl is one of the worse ones. With the anti-inflammatories you have to give them meds with food. They are sort of like Motrin/Advil(never give those to the dog) for people. They can really irritate their stomachs after a while.

Let's hope your pup will just need some meds (like Vicodan, or Torbutrol)temporarily after the surgery & that's it. You could ask your vet if Glucosamine would be advised anyway, given his age. They all get a bit arthritic in their old age. Good luck and let us know hopw things go.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 5:03PM
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Good luck with the dog!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 7:57PM
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Silly, thanks for clearing that up. I hope you find a good ortho and everything works out in the long run. You can speak with your vet about meds - I have heard great things about medcam.
My dog has an unusual situation, his right rear leg was damaged by a vet thinking he knew what he was doing and it has caused my dog pain for 10 years now. I spoke with his ortho about the chronic pain which flares at will. I give my dog half a vicodin and a pepcid if his pain level is high. Otherwise I give him a St. Josephs or an ascripton. After surgery it is important to follow the vets instructions carefully about limiting physical activity - this is really important. Your dog should not have to be on meds for too long if the surgery takes. I am sorry to hear you are going through all of this at this time of year and when the economy is in such straights. I hope and pray you find a really really good ortho vet - it can make all the difference in the world. I happen to have found on - just one surgery too late, but my pup has had other surgeries and his other leg is 99 percent of good. He is now 13 years old and has had a wonderfully active life. Even last week, I took him to the snow and he ripped 9 years off of his life, acting like a 3 year old, making doggie angels in the snow. Please keep us posted about your dog and the progress you are making. I will be thinking of you guys.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 8:37PM
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