Luxating Patella in Dogs

Short Answer

Luxating Patella in Dogs – Medial Luxating Patella (MLP or dislocating kneecap)
Luxating Patella

Luxating patella in dogs is often a common condition in smaller dogs. The patella, or kneecap, normally rides in a groove. Some dogs, especially small dogs, are genetically predisposed to patellar luxation, a condition where the patella “jumps the rail” and dislocates outside the groove. This is called  medial luxating patella or MLP.  The condition can be mild or severe, and often needs surgical correction. The prognosis for return to normal function is excellent with surgery.

Long Answer

There are four grades or severity of patellar luxation (LP)in dogs.

luxating patella in dogs

Grade I is the mildest form, with most patients affected by a periodic skip in their gait but no detectable pain. Grade IV patients have severely bowed limbs that require major re-alignment in order to form a functional joint. Thankfully, most cases are not this severe.

Most grade I cases are treated non-surgically, depending on how athletic the owner wishes their dog to be. Grade II and especially grade III cases benefit more from surgery in order to prevent arthritis or secondary canine cruciate ligament rupture  which happens in 15-20% of patients.


There are multiple surgical techniques for medial luxating patellas in dogs.

The choice of which one to apply depends on the individual patient. Often, the final decision of what needs to be done is made intra-operatively depending on what the surgeon sees.

Non-surgical techniques involve veterinary rehabilitation therapy techniques that target strength building specific muscles in order to help stabilize the joint. Not only are these techniques important as part of post surgical rehabilitation, but they may prevent low grade medial luxating patellas from ever needing surgery.

Find out more information on Veterinary Rehabilitation Therapy here