Luxating Patella in Dogs & Surgery Costs

Three Minutes
Jul 12, 2023

Luxating Patella in Dogs & Surgery Costs

Luxating patella is a common knee condition many dogs could experience. Although it’s rarely life-threatening, patellar luxation in dogs can be corrected to help provide comfort and prevent injury. Unfortunately, dog luxating patella surgery costs can reach $5,000 per leg.1 Keep reading to learn more about patellar luxation and how pet insurance could help cover the vet visit cost for dogs, including surgery.

What Is a Luxating Patella?

Patellar luxation occurs when your dog’s kneecap dislocates — pops out of place — from the groove of the thigh bone, called the trochlear groove. The only way for the kneecap to return to the normal anatomic position is for the muscles of the hind legs to relax and lengthen. Luxating patella is one of the most prevalent knee joint problems among dogs.

There are four tiers of luxating patella severity.2 After an examination, your vet can tell you where your dog’s condition falls.

  • Grade I: The kneecap can luxate out of place under pressure, but it slips back into position when pressure is removed.
  • Grade II: The kneecap luxates out of place on its own and may remain dislocated until the leg is hyperextended and rotated to put it back in place.
  • Grade III: The kneecap is out of place for most of the time, but it can be pushed back into the trochlear groove.
  • Grade IV: The kneecap remains outside of the groove and can’t be put into place without surgery.

Breeds at high risk for developing luxating patellas

Patellar luxation is most commonly found in small and miniature breeds — although not exclusively — including:

Patellar luxation is often a result of genetics, although the condition may also be a result of trauma. If either of your dog’s parents had this condition, your dog may be at a higher risk for developing it throughout their lifetime.1

Signs of Luxating Patella in Dogs

The symptoms of luxating patella in dogs correlate with the severity of the condition. Generally, a dog with patellar luxation will exhibit difficulty moving their hindlimbs and sudden lameness. These symptoms may not be apparent at all times and often come in an “on-again, off-again” frequency. Pain may occasionally occur with this condition, typically when the kneecap slides out of the trochlear groove, which often happens as your dog is running.1 For this reason, you may need to limit your pup’s activity while the patellar luxation persists.

Over time, if the condition isn’t corrected, your dog may become increasingly lame and eventually unable to move at all. The joint often develops arthritis, causing permanent swelling of the knee. If you suspect your dog has a luxated patella, bring them to your vet as soon as possible to help avoid long-term effects.

Luxating Patella Treatment

Drug therapy is generally not effective with this condition. Surgery is often recommended to correct patellar luxation grades II through IV. This typically involves deepening the trochlear groove, tightening the knee joint, and realigning the point of attachment of the patellar ligament to the shin bone. Your vet may also place an implant on the inside of your dog’s knee to help keep their kneecap from slipping again.2

If arthritis or injury hasn’t affected the joint, your dog will likely regain full use of their leg after surgery. However, surgery for injury, arthritis, or high-grade patellar luxation may result in recurrent dislocation and some joint pain.2 Your vet may recommend long-term medication and therapy to help relieve pain or discomfort.

Dog luxating patella surgery cost

Luxating patella surgery is fairly routine, but the cost can be significant. Luxating patella dog surgery costs between $1,000 and $5,000 per leg.1 The exact cost depends on a few factors, like the size of your dog, the severity of the luxation, any other injuries or arthritis involved, where you live, and if one or both knees are affected.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Dogs with Luxating Patella

Many dog parents may not be able to afford the treatment their pooch needs. A dog insurance policy could help cover surgery costs, hospitalization, medications, and certain therapies associated with patellar luxation. Get a free quote to see how a MetLife Pet Insurance policy can help make your pup’s care more affordable.

Pet Insurance May Help Cover Treatment Costs for a Limp

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** As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “How Much Does Patella Luxation Surgery Cost for Dogs?”, Hepper

2 “Luxating Patella in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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