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Patella Luxation In Chihuahuas

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Patella Luxation In ChihuahuasHave you noticed your Chihuahua limping or holding one of their legs up when they walk? They could have a condition known as Patella Luxation. In laymen terms it is a floating kneecap. It can progressively get  worse as time goes by so it is something your veterinarian should check out.

The patella, or kneecap, is a small bone, which normally sits in the tendon of the extensor muscles (the quadriceps muscles) of the thigh. The patella normally lies in a groove within the thighbone in the knee.

Patellar luxation or dislocation is a condition where the kneecap rides outside the femoral groove. It is one of the most common knee joint abnormalities in dogs. Patellar luxation is most common in Chihuahuas, as well as, in other toy and miniature dog breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese and Boston Terriers.

Here is a great video that explains it all very well:


Patellar luxation can occur after a traumatic injury to the knee or as a result of a genetic malformation of the stifle joint. Traumatic luxation is the result of disruption of soft tissues and forceful dislocation of the patella. Your Chihuahua will have a very difficult time walking on the leg as the condition is very painful.

If corrected early, your dog could have a good prognosis. Congenital or developmental patellar luxation can be associated with varying degrees of deformities of the hip and stifle joint, as well as the tight and leg bones.


The signs of patella luxation will vary depending on the severity of the condition and on the presence of concurrent degenerative arthritis. Your Chihuahua may exhibit some of the following signs:

• Prolonged abnormal hind limb movement
• Occasional skipping
• Hind limb lameness
• Sudden lameness
• Holding up the hind limb

There are different grades of severity for this condition. It goes from Grade 1 to Grade 4. In grade 1, you may not even notice your dog has a problem. The higher the grade number, the more severe the condition is.


Your dog’s veterinarian will need to perform various tests including (ACVS):

• Palpation of the knee under sedation
• X-rays of the hind limb
• Analysis of the synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates joints)
• Blood tests and urine analysis

Treatment and Management

You can do things to help your dog be more comfortable such as having stairs and ramps available for them. Vitamin and mineral supplements along with joint supplements can sometimes help too.

Although some dogs can live their entire lives with this condition and never have it progress, many of the cases will eventually need surgical treatment, which may consist of fastening the kneecap on the outside of the bone to prevent it from sliding towards the inside or deepening the groove of the thighbone so that it can better hold the kneecap. Chihuahuas who also have degenerative arthritis may also need medical treatment, which may include analgesics and chondroprotectants such as chondroitin sulfate. After surgery your dog will need frequent low-impact exercises such walking. Kneecap dislocation is genetically inherited; therefore, the breeding of affected dogs is highly discouraged.

Has your Chihuahua been diagnosed with Patella Luxation? Or do you suspect they may have it? Leave a comment and let me know your experience with this condition.

Click to find about other chihuahua health problems.

Cathy signature Chi

American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). Patellar Luxation. Retrieved on February 20, 2016 from:

Hettlich, B. (2014). Patellar Luxation. World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

frederick traceski

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

My chihuahua just had patella Luxation surgery two weeks ago he is a year old took him to get his stitches out the checked him on how the surgery went they said it failed, and they are wanting to do more surgery on him, is this a good idea? What will happen if I decide not to have another surgery done ???? Thanks Fred Traceski


Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Wow Fred, that's really disheartening! I'm not a vet so I'm not sure what will happen to him if he doesn't get the second surgery. I think I would get a second opinion from another vet and see if what your options are.

Donny McKnight

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

How old should my chihuahua be before getting knee fixed one vet told me 6 months


Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Is your dog having issues with it now? Most vets wait til the dog gets older or is having problems with it. But I'm not a vet and do not know the specific issues with your pup. If it were me, I think I would get a second opinion before making the decision.


Wednesday 30th of September 2020

I have a 7 pound chihuahua about 2 years old and he has a grade 3 knee dislocation and he also has a deformed hip. We are getting many opinions and since he is just about two we are considering amputating cause we have talked to a lot of people and going through with the multiple surgery’s can cause a lot of scar tissue and arthritis in his back left leg for the rest of his life and with amputation it’s less healing time and he wouldn’t have to deal with arthritis and painful surgery’s and physical therapy. Our vet is kinda leaning towards amputation and so are we but we’re getting a second opinion from another vet. What do you think?? *I wish I could put in a photo of the x rays


Thursday 1st of October 2020

That's a tough one Ella. I'm not sure what I would do if I were in this situation. I'd definitely get a second opinion from another vet before deciding.


Saturday 19th of September 2020

I have a 14 year old rescue chihuahua with a luxating patella and a torn ligament. She's been to the surgeon who has recommended surgery for both problems. I just don't know what to do :( I'm not ready to say goodbye, and I don't think she is either, but I haven't been able to find information on doing this surgery on such a senior girl. Do you have any opinion you could share?


Saturday 19th of September 2020

@Cathy, thank-you for your reply. This is such a hard thing to decide, only because I want to do the best for my little one.


Saturday 19th of September 2020

Not really Caroline except from what I hear from pet parents who's dog had the surgery, most were pleased with the outcome.


Sunday 9th of August 2020

We just adopted a seven year old girl, Lala last week. She seems to have this in both hind legs. We started her on the joint 'treats' that we currently give our eight year old pibble. We walk her two plus times daily along with our pibble, Charlie. Both in grass at parks and sidewalks in town. He has even slowed his walk to let her keep up. We are hoping that walks will help strengthen her muscles. It seems to be working in this short time. She does ok on the front stoop steps - there are two, but struggles with the back entry that has a step up. She watched our cat jump up, so now she she does a slight run and jump with a light slide on her landing. We will modify this with a ramp now that we read it could be a painful issue rather than just a coordination issue. Her prior owners never took her for walks. She just lounged in the yard or in the house.


Sunday 9th of August 2020

It sounds like you are doing all the right things Patty. What supplement are you giving her?