Juno's Luxating Patella

No, I didn't get the photo mixed up. Juno is a 96 pound Dogue De Bordeaux, and this is her story.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella

If a big girl like Juno starts limping on her hind leg, you'd think the prime suspects would be a torn cruciate ligament or hip dysplasia--issues that large breed dogs are most likely to get.

Luxating patella is something that plagues small breeds only, right? This condition affects primarily small dogs, especially breeds such as Boston and Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Miniature Poodles. However, you'd probably be surprised to hear that the incidence in large breed dogs has been on the rise over the past ten years.

What is luxating patella anyway?

Luxating patella--also referred to as trick knee-- is the dislocation of the kneecap. The kneecap is a small bone in front of the knee joint and helps facilitate the knee movement--straightening the knee. In a healthy knee, the patella sits securely in a groove that allows it to slide up and down but not sideways. When the groove is too shallow, the kneecap can slide out of its proper position--luxate. This messes up the function of the joint.

Luxating patella is graded based on whether the kneecap pops back into proper position on its own, can be pushed back into the groove, or stays dislocated, and how often this happens. The grade then determines treatment options.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella
Puppy Juno. Photo Bliss Quest

Juno started having problems with her leg since she was a puppy.

Every once in a while, June would suddenly start limping. After a bit of massage, though, she would run and play as if nothing ever happened. Juno's parents figured that Juno was either having some growing pains or a bit of cramping because she was a busy girl.

It only happened every few months and resolved without a trace. As Juno was growing, it happened even less frequently. Juno's parents assumed that the problem, whatever it was, has resolved on its own. Until about a month ago.

Juno once again became lame and wouldn't put any weight on her back leg.

This time, the lameness wasn't going away.

Juno's mom came from work to already limping Juno so there was no inkling to what could have happened. Worried that Juno got seriously hurt, her mom took her to an emergency hospital.

Did Juno tear her knee ligament?

When I see a large dog limping on their hind leg, that is the first thing that comes to my mind. It was the first thing that came to mind of the attending veterinarian too. They said that it was likely a partially torn CCL and that Juno would need surgery to fix that.

Juno probably didn't like that proposition as she suddenly started walking as if nothing ever happened. Seeing that, Juno's mom decided to forgo offered diagnostic tests and follow up with Juno's regular vet instead. Armed with NSAIDs and medication to keep Juno calm, then went home.

Limping off and on

The next day it became apparent that whatever the problem was, it was not going away. Several times through the day Juno would become lame, then get better, and then become lame again. Is that what injured cruciate ligament would look like?

It only took Juno's own veterinarian a couple of minutes to discover what the real problem was.

A luxating patella

Juno's parents obtained a referral to an orthopedic specialist to evaluate whether surgery would be the best treatment for Juno. As fate would have it, the closer it got to the consultation, the better was Juno feeling. Does she really need surgery? This is always a big decision.

In the end, Juno did undergo a surgical procedure to keep her patella in place.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella
Juno recovering from surgery. Photo Bliss Quest

To read Juno's full story, visit Bliss Quest blog, where Juno's mom describes everything in detail. While you're there, you can also find real-life tips for finding your bliss without losing your mind. I know I will check that out.

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What is your dog telling you about their health?

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Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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