Cooper’s Kickstand Troubles: Coping with Luxating Patella
Cooper has been a fighter since day one (click here to read his full story). After a diagnosis of an advanced case of Luxating Patella, he’s not letting his faulty kickstand get in his way!
Luxating Patella is one of the most prevalent knee abnormalities in dogs, and more common in toy and miniature breeds. It occurs when the dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its normal position in the groove of the femur. When the kneecap is dislocated from the groove of the bone, it can only be returned to its normal position once the quadriceps muscles in the hind legs relax and lengthen. It is for this reason that most dogs with the condition will hold up their hind legs for a few minutes. Surgery is an option for the most severe cases where the dog won’t use the leg anymore, but some dogs can live long happy lives without ever needing surgery.
Leko was diagnosed with Luxating Patella when he was a puppy, but we never saw any symptoms of it. By his 4 month checkup, his knee caps went back to normal. Cooper, on the other hand, has quite a bad case of it.
We noticed early on when we first brought him home that something wasn’t quite right with his back left leg. Even during our visits at the breeder, he didn’t seem to have as much control over his back legs as some other puppies even younger than him. We chalked it up to his being behind in development from his traumatic first week of life.
Cooper would run and play just like any other puppy, but would often suddenly tumble. He would favor his left leg at times, holding it up close to his body or leaning for support on his right leg more. We consulted with our vet during his 12 week checkup, and he was diagnosed with an advanced case of Luxating Patella. We’re glad to know it doesn’t cause him any pain or discomfort… that was our biggest worry. Our vet is great and doesn’t see every ailment as an excuse to undergo surgery. Some simple lifestyle changes, possible supplements and exercises like swimming can help strengthen it. He showed us how to help pop the knee cap back in if it doesn’t on its own (we’ve had to do that a couple times… I’m weak and can’t stomach stuff like that!). This may be something that will go away as Cooper grows up, but could also be something he has to deal with for the rest of his life.
We’ve made some changes in the house to help make things a little easier and comfortable for Cooper’s leg. We discourage jumping from the bed. Jumping from high places could put him at risk for serious injuries if his knee happens to be out of place at the time he lands. We had steps made for the bed and are training him to use them instead. Our walks are kept short compared to Leko’s 2+ mile treks. We’ve noticed he limps a lot more when we go too far or too often. Our neighborhood is all educated on Luxating Patella thanks to Cooper. We were stopped constantly during some of his first walks by concerned people asking why he was limping.
Sometimes he uses his condition as a distraction. I’ve witnessed him and Leko playing, and suddenly Leko pushed him. Cooper cried out in pain and acted like his knee was out. Leko, confused and concerned, backed off. Moments later, Cooper made his move and ambushed him.
Cooper doesn’t let having a bum leg get him down. He’ll play just as hard (if not harder!) than his brother, Leko, and will just switch over to running three-legged without skipping a beat! He is our tough little survivor pup for sure!