Luxating patellas are a known problem in Shiba Inu
"Luxating" is a fancy word for dislocating. Patella is your dog's "knee", the joint on the front of her/his hind leg. So a luxating patella is a dislocating knee or as some have nick named it; trick knee, a knee that keeps slipping out of its socket. This can happen in Boston Terriers and certain toy breeds with weak ligaments, tendons, and/or muscles. It can also happen other breeds in pups whose kneecap groove is too narrow or shallow. The knee usually slips inwardly, toward the body, and locks so that your dog can't bend her/his leg.
Does My Dog Have a Luxating Patella?
You might suspect a luxating patella if your Shiba Inu sometimes lifts one hind leg while running, or if she/he often moves both rear legs at the same time, like a hopping bunny. Sometimes the knee slips only for a few moments and then slides back into place. Sometimes the knee slips out and stays out, and your Shiba will hold her/his leg off the ground and limp, perhaps tucking the thigh into her/his body.
Luxation may occur in one knee, or in both. It is seen in many small breeds, and in both sexes. Even if the knees seem to be firm as puppies, it is not a bad idea to have have your dog's patellas checked every two years by your veterinarian.
Is luxation serious?
There are four degrees (grades) of luxation:
Grade I. The knee only slips out when the vet manipulates it.
Grade II. The knee luxates occasionally when the dog is walking or running. He/she may not seem to mind much, or they may shriek, but it usually slides back by itself as they continues moving. Or you can slip it back manually (ask the vet to show you how).
Grade III. The knee luxates frequently and causes chronic lameness. Even when you put it back manually, it doesn't seem to last long.
Grade IV. The knee luxates, stays that way, and you can't put it back into its socket. This grade is very rare but happens.
How is luxation treated?
•The first treatment should be to crate or keep the dog in a small area for a week or two and supervise all activity - no jumping or running.
• Most veterinarians will prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (like Rimadyl or another NSAID). However, these will only hide the symptoms and may reduce some of the inflammation, but do absolutely nothing to strengthen or correct the condition.
• Some veterinarians will perscribe Steroidal anti-inflammatories. These have proven to be extremely damaging to the immune system, have awful side effects (short and long term), and in my opinion, should never be used.
•Surgery is seldom the answer and if needed, should only be done by an orthopedic surgeon as regular vets usually lack the skill needed to repair a slipping patella properly and again only if the dog is in chronic pain.
If you decide on surgery, please call the American College of Veterinary Surgeons at (301) 718-6504 and ask for a referral to an orthopedic specialist or college of veterinary medicine in your state.
If surgery is your choice, be aware that the dog may very likely have problems down the road with arthritis from the surgery. In the opinion of most veterinarians, surgery is overkill for Grade I or II luxating patella. I personally would only go with surgery on a Grade IV luxation, or on a Grade III that did not respond to natural treatment and the dog was in constant pain. Surgery costs around a thousand dollars per patella, it is uncomfortable for your dog, and there is a 50% chance that some degree of luxation will return at some point in time.
Natural ways to treat Luxating Patellas:
•Feed fresh foods. (home cooked with no grains and little to no vegetables or preferably a raw meat and bone diet)
•Keep your dog lean. (Fat dogs have to carry more weight on their weak leg joint).
•Moderate exercise, walking up slight inclines (gentle hills), will strengthen the muscle groups around the patella.
•Vitamin C is one of the building blocks of strong ligaments and connective tissue.
•Glucosamine supplements or Glyco-Flex are nutritional products packed with minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and lubricating agents. They build cartilage and cushioning fluid in injured joints, and help heal damaged connective tissue.
•Acupuncture, Homeopathy and even the application of *therapeutic grade essential oils have also been very effective in correcting luxating patellas and strenthening the joints and tendons while easing the pain.
What causes luxating patella in the first place?
Occasionally it's caused by an injury, but in the absence of such proof, it is almost always weak tendons and/or a shallow kneecap groove. Luxating patella(s) is considered hereditary.
Never, Ever, breed a Shiba Inu (or any breed of dog) with any degree of luxation (even a "wiggly" knee), whether it has been repaired or not. Fixing the knee doesn't fix the genes that caused the problem.
The Orthopedic Foundation of America will issue registration numbers to dogs whose patellas have been examined by a veterinarian, forwarded to the OFA, and found to be normal. For More Information visit the Orthopedic Foundation of America
Posted with permission of the author, Dr. Jeannie (Jeanette) Thomason
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