Luxating Patella in Pomeranians


by James Bennett


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Luxating patella, a common condition in small dog breeds like Pomeranians, involves the dislocation of the kneecap (patella) from its normal position. This condition can range from mild, causing little to no discomfort, to severe, significantly impacting a dog’s mobility and quality of life. Understanding luxating patella, its implications, and management strategies is crucial for Pomeranian owners to ensure their furry companions lead happy, active lives.

Understanding Luxating Patella

The patella normally resides in a groove at the end of the femur (thigh bone) and plays a key role in knee joint function. In cases of luxating patella, the kneecap slips out of this groove, which can lead to discomfort, abnormal gait, and long-term joint issues.

Grades of Luxating Patella

Luxating patella is categorized into four grades, reflecting the severity of the condition:

  • Grade 1: The kneecap can be manually dislocated but returns to its normal position spontaneously.
  • Grade 2: The kneecap occasionally luxates, leading to temporary lameness. It may return to its position spontaneously or may require manual manipulation.
  • Grade 3: The kneecap frequently dislocates, causing persistent lameness and discomfort. Manual repositioning is often necessary.
  • Grade 4: The kneecap is permanently dislocated, and manual repositioning is not possible, leading to significant lameness and altered leg posture.

Causes and Risk Factors

Luxating patella can be attributed to a congenital defect, meaning it’s present from birth, or it can develop due to trauma. In Pomeranians, the condition is often hereditary, linked to the breed’s genetic makeup and small size. Factors that may increase the risk include obesity, which puts additional strain on the joints, and insufficient muscle development.

Symptoms to Watch For

Pomeranian owners should be vigilant for signs of luxating patella, which may include:

  • Skipping or hopping while running
  • Sudden lameness in one or both hind legs
  • Abnormal standing posture, with a leg held off the ground
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Audible clicking sound from the knees during movement

Diagnosis and Treatment

A veterinarian can diagnose luxating patella through physical examination and, if necessary, X-rays to assess the severity and plan treatment. Treatment varies based on the grade of luxation and the dog’s symptoms:

  • Conservative Management: For mild cases (Grade 1 and some Grade 2), weight management, controlled exercise, and physical therapy may suffice. Joint supplements and anti-inflammatory medications can also provide relief.
  • Surgical Intervention: More severe cases (Grade 3 and 4) often require surgery to realign the patella and prevent further luxation. Surgery aims to deepen the groove in the femur for the patella to sit in, realign the patella’s ligaments, and, if necessary, correct bone deformities.

Managing Luxating Patella in Pomeranians

Lifestyle Adjustments

Maintaining a healthy weight and providing regular, low-impact exercise can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Activities like swimming can be particularly beneficial, offering exercise without excessive strain on the joints.

Post-Surgical Care

If surgery is performed, post-operative care is crucial for a successful recovery. This includes following the vet’s instructions for rest, medication, and gradually reintroducing activity. Physical therapy may also be recommended to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

Long-Term Outlook

With proper management, Pomeranians with luxating patella can lead full, active lives. Regular veterinary check-ups are important to monitor the condition and adjust the care plan as needed.


Luxating patella is a prevalent issue in Pomeranians, but with early detection, appropriate treatment, and careful management, it doesn’t have to significantly impact their well-being. Whether through conservative measures or surgical intervention, the goal is always to ensure the comfort and mobility of the affected dog. Pomeranian owners should work closely with their veterinarians to develop a tailored approach that meets their dog’s individual needs, ensuring a happy, healthy life for their beloved companion.

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