Sunday, July 29, 2012
Pet Health Tip #18- "What does it mean when my dog runs on three legs?"
Has your dog ever been running and suddenly picked up on of his back legs and started running on three legs? Usually this will be for a short distance. Then thedog will give the leg a shake and go back to running on all four legs. What causes this?
Your dog is experiencing something called Patellar Luxation. Sounds complicated, but it is really very simple. The patella is a small bone that sits in a groove at the front of the knee (the knee cap). For some dogs, the groove that the patella sits in is too shallow. So, when the patella is experiencing a lot of movement (i.e. the dog is running), it will slip out of the groove and cause the knee to lock up. The dog will hold the leg up and sometimes give it a little shake causing the patella to slip back into its groove.
Patellar Luxation is a congenital problem caused by the failure for the the bone to develop correctly. It is a common problem for small breed dogs such as Pomeranians, Poodles, and Chihuahuas. The luxation itself isn't painful. It is more of a nuisance. However, over time, the action of the patella sliding up and over the groove will cause wear and tear on the cartilage of the knee joint. Eventually, this will lead to arthritis.
If you have a dog that has a luxating patella problem, then it is important to make sure that they maintain a healthy weight. This will help slow the progression of the arthritis. Patellar Luxation can also be surgically repaired. The surgeon will go into the knee joint and deepen the groove the patella sits in causing a tighter fit. Surgery is the best solution, but can be expensive. Most dogs with Patellar Luxation do very well.