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Thread: Dislocating knee caps

  1. #1

    Default Dislocating knee caps

    Has anyone any experience with a small dog having not just one but two dislocating knee caps?

    We are thinking of seeking a second opinion on whether it is within the best interest of our ten year old cavalier to have surgery.

    We are wondering what would happen if we didn't go ahead with surgery. The vet mentioned arthritis but nothing else. So we are thinking is such major surgery on a 10 year old dog really necessary and within her best interests. And just for the record cost does not come into our decision making. Well it does, and basically if she needs the surgery we will extend the mortgage. Issue done and dealt with.

    Our reasons for reconsidering surgery at this point in time is:

    Her age
    She is debarked so when incubated requires a cat tube rather than a dog one. This obviously increases her risk of complications. (She was debarked when we adopted her at the age of 4).
    She is not currently in pain and her condition does not effect her overall day. I mentioned her walking to my vet as an after thought as she is a little wobbly first thing in the morning even after a series of arthritis injections.
    Hates walking and always has. We take her out with our other dog but pop her in a pram much to the embarrassment of our teenagers!
    She is not an active dog.

    Such major surgery seems a little harsh if it is not necessary. Then there is the guilt of what are the long term consequences of not having the surgery done.........

    It is hard to trust/gain a fair opinion of the orthopaedic surgeon on a one off visit and unfortunately my gut instinct never seems to kick in when I get all emotional about the furry kids.

    Hoping someone has some good advice or similar experience.

  2. #2
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    Mar 2013
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    Oh your poor little darling.

    Has she any heart problems?

  3. #3
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    Hi I have a little cavalier and he had luxating patellas he was diagnosed at nine months as his legs would become stiff at various times. Vet suggested that he get both knees done at the same time because he is lean and small.


    He came through the op with flying colours. As a result of his condition he does now have a little arthritis in his right knee which I am managing with arthritis injections and Glyde oral powder for dogs.


    i was lucky enough to find a fellow who does hydrotherapy for dogs and my boy went to him for his recovery, as he was tending to favour his right. Now you wouldn't even know he had ****y knees.


    He had no complications apart from a seranoma (build up of fluid on left knee) which went away after a couple of months.


    good luck with your decision mine was a no brainer due to my boy's young age.
    “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn't a dog.”
    ― Charles M. Schulz

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    I have no experience with small dogs. But i am aware they fair better with these osteo ops than large dogs, due to wear and tear of weight baring pre and post op. I have had 3 dogs with luxiating patellas.
    Dog one, working border collie aged 3, had op, great recovery.
    Dog two, a rottie, waste of $1500 i paid for op. New joint broke within 2 months. PTS.
    Dog three, Bernie a 6 yr old GSD weighing 49kg. And we have opted for moderation management instead for him. Due to age, and lifestyle.

    She is not showing you pain? yet does not want to walk. I suspect that IS her showing you pain. But it does not seem severe enough to be ringing alarm bells in you who know her well, would notice changes, different things in her behaviour. Thus suggesting this is a old injury with arthritis (slow to move 1st thing in morning).

    Maybe read up on moderation management. See if you think you can opt for this. As i notice you are already (pram).

    My personal choice in your situ, would be no op. < i wanted to see responses like this from folks. Black white answers, would you or wouldnt you?

    The longer you leave the patella luxiating (dislocating) the more damage occurs. so i would consider how long your dog has had this? As once the injury is there, the dog brings the other leg into the mid alignment to take the weight from the dodgy knee, this misalignment that occurs naturally, causing the other joints to suffer, over time, arthritis is an issue.

    Your concern over incubation tube sizes, is a red herring, simply addressed by mentioning it to surgeon vet. Sorted.

  5. #5

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    Thank you for the replies.

    Bernie, the reason the little darling hates walking is she is very timid and afraid of the world. We adopted her at the age of four and apart from attending dog shows she had never left her backyard. A good example of her behaviour is When I take her to the dog park she salivates and has on occasion taken herself off to the carpark to sit by the car because she wants to go home. When we walk her on the lead she hangs back when she sees another dog or even sometimes a person and on occasion will come to a stop and refuse to move it she feels fearful. we have spent alot of time attempting to desensitise her but even 6 years down the track a new dog on a walk she has done many a time before can bring her undone. It is quite sad really.

    When we first got her she went to the vets for a thorough check up and at that time her knees were great though she did dislocate her hip three years back. Yep, just walking in the back yard and POP. I couldn't believe it. I must admit she had never really been the same since that accident though surgery was deemed successful. I have always thought that leg has been a little weak since and at times just does not sit quite right. It can look a little bowed. I am thinking she must hqve a weakness/tendency for leg problems. The irony is she has an exceptionally strong heart which is very unusual for a cavalier. She is not even graded as having a heart problem. An we have a vet clearance on hip dysplasia.

    I spoke to my vet again last night after posting this thread and he said if it was his 10 year old cavalier he would not have the surgery done - especially because she is a cavalier (whatever that meant. I should have asked really). I appreciate his opinion and honesty.

    I am definitely going to read up on moderation management and my husband and I have asked our vet to refer us to a different surgeon for a second opinion. We are being sent to whoop whoop vill but are prepared to do the travel. The vet is sending us to an orthopaedic surgeon who doesn't operate just for the hell of it. My vet said he had knocked back a few of his clients for surgery due to hip problems and other issues.

    I guess I want to be completely informed before I make a final decision but could possibly be over analysing it. At this point in time the surgery is looking like it is going to go on the backburner unless the new surgeon can really convince us we are awful pet owners and would be neglectful to not let her have the surgery.

    I guess I am wondering at what point it all went haywire. I have my little girl thoroughally checked out each year at vaccination time and I have had the arthritis injections continuously since she dislocated her hip in an attempt to stop any further damage. Goes to show we can't always control the outcome of every situation.

  6. #6
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    I guess she's 10 years old... what's her life expectancy. Given cattle dogs can and often do live to 18 or so, I'd consider having an op. If your cav's average life expectancy isn't much longer (another couple of years?), then maybe not.

    It's all about improving her quality of life. If she's small and light and not very active, I can't see how having the op would make a lot of difference. I've had a knee dislocate and pop back in by itself - just walking - because I destroyed my ACL and ripped both the side ligaments too - and when that happened it hurt like hell, but not for very long. And there is a dull ache most of the time.

    I think your vet's opinion might have been different if she was a more active and bigger dog - that's what I'd read into "especially a cav".

    You could probably replace walks with some more mental activity like trick training or puzzle solving of various sorts, to maintain her quality of life and enthusiasm.

  7. #7

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    I have spoken to the vet again today. I am sure he wishes he charged me double - I may be bordering on annoying at this point in time. We are going to go back to see him in three months time for a review and see if there is any improvement or if things have gotten worse. We will discuss long term pain treatment for her at this time. Obviously if her condition gets worse during this time she will be taken back sooner than the 3 months.

    I asked the vet to clarify his reasoning/opinion on why my cav shouldn't have surgery and he said her age, the life expectancy of cavaliers and that many cavs have heart disease and heart problems add to this her dislocated hip and her debarking and it puts her in a high risk category (Bernie, the debark is no red herring it is a major complication for anyone operating on the little cav and as I am not medically qualified I will take his word for it!!)

    In saying that he also added he is surprised at the fact her heart is very healthy and strong and it is a rarity for a 10 year old cav. By all accounts the average cavalier lives to 12-13. Now before everyone starts posting a story of a cav that has lived longer - remember this is an average.

    Hyacinth the idea of mentally stimulating her is a good one and something I had not thought about. She will continue her walks in the pram and she doesn't have and has never had a weight problem but I will watch her weight too. I am thinking of looking into hydrotherapy too.

    Any other ideas to keep her busy will be appreciated. She loves food but is incredibly lazy. I love her but have to admit she is not very smart but certainly makes up for it with charm and good looks!

  8. #8
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    Im sure your vet has made enough money from you over the years, to be patient and listen to your questions lol
    Especially, if he wants you back to do a double knee replacement on a 10yr old cavalier.

    If she loves food, could you hide her meal around the garden, and have her go find her dinner. She gets to be a huntress then. And my 'not so very smart' one understands this game lol, im sure you'rs will want to play, especially if her dinner is not turning up any other way.

  9. #9
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    Hi
    The reason I asked about her heart is because if she had a heart problem I would not consider surgery.

    If her only health problem is the knees, it may be worth considering as i am under the impression the main reason for the average life span of cavaliers being 12 is the high rate of heart disease. My last cav died of heart disease at 9 yrs and the cardiologist I saw while she was ill told me that most cavs heart disease by the age of 7.

    im sorry but cant help adding that The breeder I recently got my latest cav from has a15yr old and 16 yr old cav.

    It can be really tough trying to decide the right thing to do, but you know your dog best and I am sure you will make the right decision for you both.

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