For pets (and people), pain comes with the territory of getting older. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it! If we can figure out a way to minimize or eliminate pain, the pets we know and love can get back to doing the activities they enjoy.

There are lots of ways to support an aging dog’s mobility, and understanding common issues like luxating patellas and hip dysplasia is one of them.

Chronic Pain

It can be hard to watch your pet slow down, but it can feel downright impossible to see them endure pain. No longer jumping up on the bed, they may try to unsuccessfully find a comfortable position or spot to rest in. Fortunately, once we know what’s going on with your dog they won’t needlessly suffer. 

Zeroing In

A dog with a limp, one that is whining or wincing in pain should be examined. Digital radiographs can reveal the cause of pain and help us design a treatment plan for long term health. Aside from osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia and/or luxating patellas are typically to blame for symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia affects the ball and socket joint of a dog’s hip. This is often a hereditary disorder but it can also result from injury.

Hip dysplasia can happen in one or both hips, affect certain breeds (mostly larger dogs), and occurs when the socket joint and ball do not develop properly. Over time, strain and degeneration of the joint can cause stiffness and discomfort. 

Luxating Patella

Instead of affecting the hip, a luxating patella concerns the knee joint. The patella, or kneecap, pops either inside or outside the groove it is supposed to rest inside of. Small dogs are most commonly diagnosed with patellar luxation, but it can happen to any dog regardless of breed. Either one or both knees can be affected. 

Different, Yet Similar

Both hip dysplasia and luxating patellas can be asymptomatic in younger pets, but eventually cause limping and pain. 

Also, it’s not uncommon for many pets with hip dysplasia to also have patellar luxations. Both conditions can vary in severity, but will likely worsen with age and weight gain. Osteoarthritis can be caused or exacerbated by either condition. 

Helping Out

Surgery can correct hip dysplasia or luxating patella, but there are other ways to support these common problems:

  • Adjust diet – Many products have ingredients that promote joint health or help pets lose weight. Depending on your pet’s needs, we may prescribe certain supplements to improve flexibility and mobility.
  • Adjust lifestyle – An active pet may continue to damage joints if they aren’t guided to alternate activities, such as swimming. Provide supportive, warm bedding, ramps, and slip/fall hazards around the house.
  • Medications – We will work with you on prescriptions to help manage your pet’s pain. Anti-inflammatory medications can offer great relief. 
  • Laser therapyMany pets suffering from osteoarthritis tend to feel much better after these treatments. While the cold laser can reverse hip dysplasia or luxating patella, it can soothe symptoms.

The Pet’s Place Animal Hospital is always here to answer your questions or address concerns. Without a doubt, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation can be challenging for everyone. But with a proactive approach and ongoing support, your pet can live a longer, healthier life.