About 2 weeks ago, my 5 year old pit mix was playing with her buddy in a neighbors yard, and I noticed she was holding her hind leg up, so I asked her to lay down. After palpating it, she didn't act like it hurt, and got up and acted totally normal. I took her home and made an appointment with the vet because she was due for shots anyway. Since that incident, it happened again when she was walking up the stairs. She never acted like it was painful, just seemed like "hey, mom, my leg doesn't work right".
Fast forward to last night's appointment. It seems she has a low grade luxating patella. My vet said she sees this a lot more in small breed dogs, and that typically the small ones don't require surgical intervention. But that in the bigger ones, she likes to send them to the orthopedists for consultations, as it can lead to arthritis later in life. She did say that she had to "work pretty hard" to get her patella out, and that if she had to grade it on a scale, she would call it a 1-2/4.
We have an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on New Years Eve to talk about whether they think she should have surgery, or whether we should "wait and see".
Has anyone experienced this before with their dogs? What kind of surgical options are available? What was recovery like for your active dog?
I don't have an answer for you, but I'm pretty sure that I am going through the EXACT same thing. Our vet warned me that my pit rescue has a very mild luxating patella. She has no problems for the 1.5 yrs that I've had her until right before Thanksgiving. She was running at the barn and that night had a very small hitch in her gate, and by the next morning was 3 legged lame. She has worked out of it, but I've tried to keep her quiet and let whatever happened heal. Watching her going up and down stairs it looks like she is *slightly favoring that leg, but a non-horse person may or may not even catch it. I'm pretty sure its her back right knee.
We have an appointment at the vet tomorrow, so I'll update tomorrow evening.
I spoke with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday afternoon for about 30 minutes. She said she spoke with my vet about Molly's exam and she had a lot of questions for me about Molly. After all was said and done, she said she undoubtedly recommends surgical correction for a dog like Molly for several reasons.
First, she is luxating regularly enough that we are noticing it when she's doing things like walking up the stairs, which means that it's likely to get worse over the course of time. Second, apparently my vet was able to luxate it laterally, which means that she is at high risk for an ACL tear. The surgeon says that the surgery to correct the patella is more successful than the surgery to correct the patella + torn ACL. Finally, she said that if we allow her to continue this way, she could end up with arthritis that makes it extremely difficult to do things like go up stairs, get on the couch, into bed, etc.
The quote for surgery $2k and that include pre-op bloodwork plus post op monitoring and medication, plus any post op follow up visits she may need. She says no stairs for 8 weeks post-op, no running for FOUR MONTHS (EEEK).
We are thinking we will schedule it for early January so that Molly can have a somewhat normal summer :c(.
Ugh. I hate that you guys are having to go through surgery. However, it sounds like surgery is the better option. I dropped my pup off at the vet today, so we'll see how it goes. Last night was the first time in a while that she used both legs equally to go up the stairs. I'm hoping that her issues are just a simple strain somewhere and wont' require surgery.
Seriously, of all the big dogs that get patella luxations, its frequently the pitties for some reason. My old pit x also has a low grade luxating patella (happens maybe a few times a week) but at almost 13, she isnt having surgery - it pops back in quite easily and only luxates for a few minutes.
Seems to be a issue with toy breeds and pitties, how strange.
Our dog (Great Pyrenees) had this surgery done at about 11 months old and after he finally recovered from the surgery, his other leg went so he had the surgery twice! This is a VERY expensive dog now :-). It was a long recovery period and thankfully, it was successful. The vet said he is at higher risk to get arthritis as he ages though. He is now almost 7 and is normal in every respect. Thankfully no arthritis at this time.
My vet said that larger dogs almost always need the surgery mainly because they weigh more. If surgery is not done it will just get worse and worse and like you mentioned, there is high risk of the ACL ligaments getting damaged and when that happens, the surgery is more complicated and the prognosis is not as good. The worse part of the surgery was the first couple weeks. I hope all goes well with your girl. Good luck!