Dog Recuperation From Luxated Patella Surgery

Updated November 21, 2016

Patellar luxation, or “trick kneecap,” is a condition that occurs when the kneecap dislocates. Small dogs, like chihuahuas, are more prone to it than larger breeds. It’s usually genetic, but can be the result of trauma, and causes pain, joint swelling, lameness and, eventually, arthritis. Surgery is necessary if the dog doesn’t respond to treatment in two to four weeks.


Following surgery, your veterinarian will prescribe a pain killer and anti-inflammatory medicines that will be taken for one week.


Stitches are removed 10 to 14 days following surgery.


Your dog should remain as inactive as possible for at least a week. Keep him on a short leash and only let him walk long enough to eliminate. No running, jumping or playing is permitted for at least eight weeks, so keep him in a crate when he’s not supervised, to limit movement. If he needs to go upstairs and downstairs, you should carry him.


After the first week, your dog can start physiotherapy. Short, slow walks should last around five minutes. Swimming is good because it has little impact on the joints. Your dog can start going for his regular walks after six weeks.


Most dogs will be fully recovered after 15 weeks. About 5 to 10 per cent of dogs are lame after surgery, but can be treated with medication.

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About the Author

Lani Thompson began writing in 1987 as a journalist for the "Pequawket Valley News." In 1993 she became managing editor of the "Independent Observer" in East Stoneham, Maine. Thompson also developed and produced the "Clan Thompson Celiac Pocketguides" for people with celiac disease. She attended the University of New Hampshire.