What are the common causes of a medially luxating patella in dogs?

A luxating patella, or a dislocated kneecap, has no definitive cause. However, there is a wealth of evidence to show that certain breads are far more likely to experience this condition than others.

Before we delve into particular breeds, let’s learn more about MLP, how it can be treated, and how serious it actually is.

Causes of a medially luxating patella

Naturally, the kneecap (or patella) moves from side to side within its groove. There is also a ligament that connects the kneecap with the bone below the knee joint. This is the patella ligament, and its purpose is to keep the knee in the correct position.

A luxating patella can occur when the thigh muscles contract and the patella ligament is pushed too far into the knee joint. This force pulls the patella against the groove that it sits in. Over a period of months, this groove will be worn down, and the kneecap will become loose and can then be easily displaced.

Signs to look out for

One of the first signs you will see is your dog limping or using their fore legs to move forward while their hind legs appear to lag behind. If you notice these, then it may be a luxating patella and you should meet with your vet.

Some dogs will learn to push it back into place and can walk without pain for a while – though this is just for a short period before the kneecap becomes so worn that it will cause pain and discomfort. An MLP usually occurs early in your pet’s life, and if treated early, it can be remedied. However, if left for too long, your dog may develop arthritis, and there may be further complications down the track.

Can MLP be cured?

Yes! With surgery, we can deepen your dog’s patella groove to stop the kneecap from moving out of place. However, if your dog already has arthritis, treatment may also include other procedures or medications. In either case, this is what a standard procedure will look like:

  1. The patella ligament is surgically and permanently moved to a move appropriate location at the point of patella ligament.
  2. The groove that the kneecap sits within will be deepened so that the patella can fit neatly in place without moving.
  3. The casing around the knee joint will be constricted to ensure it doesn’t move from its proper place.

This surgical procedure will be the most effective way to help your dog recover from MLP.


In what breeds is MLP most common?

Certain dogs, in particular specifically bred toy dogs, are more likely to experience a patella that luxates. These include:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Basset Hounds
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Australian Silky Terriers
  • Maltese Poodles
  • Cocker Spaniels

We hope that this information will ensure you are better equipped to notice the signs of MLP in your pet, and you will know how to take an appropriate course of action – that is, to visit your vet!

If you’re unsure whether or not your pet is experiencing an MLP, then we recommend a visit to the Brisbane Pet Surgery.

Related Tag: Medial Luxating Patella Dog