How to Help My Dog Recuperate After Luxated Patella Surgery


Patella luxation is the shifting of the kneecap out of position, either to the inside or outside of the knee. Frequent in toy and miniature breeds such as chihuahuas, the condition can occur in any breed at any age. The majority of cases are genetic, but some result from injury to the leg. In milder cases, dogs may show few if any symptoms, but in severe cases, dogs limp, become lame, and refuse to jump, climb, or stand up. In serious cases, surgery is the only indicated treatment. A few simple steps can help your dog recover from luxated patella surgery.

  • Deliver pain medication provided by your veterinarian. Post-operative care often requires giving your dog anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling. Medication will make your dog more comfortable and promote faster healing. Check with your veterinarian before you administer any pain medication.

  • Keep your dog from disturbing the surgical site. The incision site will heal much more slowly if your dog is constantly licking it. The Samoyed Health Foundation recommends using an Elizabethan collar or a cervical collar to keep the dog from reaching the affected area. For some dogs, spraying bitter apple near the incision is effective, though others will ignore the bad taste.

  • Restrict activity for up to 16 weeks. Jumping, climbing, running, or other stressful activities may cause the dog to heal more slowly and to experience unnecessary pain. Once the incision site has healed and the dog is putting weight on the affected leg, walk it on a leash to increase strength and mobility. Do not allow the dog to run freely until after full recovery.

  • Provide low or no-impact physical therapies if your veterinarian agrees. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons says your veterinarian may advise you to apply compresses and conduct passive therapies like moving the knee back and forth slowly several times each day. Swimming is good exercise since it puts little if any stress on the healing joints.

  • Install assistive devices to keep your dog from stressing its knees. During and after recovery, put stairs and ramps in place to help your dog get up and down off of couches, beds, and porches. Since patella luxation can recur after surgery, make sure your dog has few chances to stress or injure its legs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Control your dog's weight. Fit and trim dogs will have fewer problems with luxating patellas and are more likely to recover from surgery quicker.
  • Surgery for patella luxation is reported to be 90 percent effective. If any complications arise, contact your veterinarian.

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  • Photo Credit samoyed image by Nickolay Bolshakov from
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