ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: I have a 3-year-old cockapoo and she was trying to jump and did something to her leg. She cried for about 30 seconds, it was horrifying. She was born with loose kneecaps. My veterinarian told me about stem cells. I’m skeptical with any new procedures. Are there side effects or future problems? She loves to play and I’m afraid it might happen again.
Dr. Nichol: That missed jump may have strained the tendons that support and guide your girl’s knee caps (patellas). Rest and anti-inflammatory medication can help in the short-term but your special cockapoo’s knees will remain structurally unsound until they are surgically corrected. The tibial crest rotation procedure is the standard of care. It’s well-established and reliable.
Luxating (dislocating) patellas are common in small dogs. When this oval-shaped little bone occasionally slips out of its groove your dog may skip for a few steps and then use her leg normally. Without clear indicators of pain you may be tempted to postpone surgery. But this is a serious problem; luxating patellas can lead to degenerative joint disease. A dog who skips a step is not cuttin’ the rug for tips.
My practice experience bears out the value of surgical repair but even with correction of the geometric forces in your dog’s knee some chronic damage to her tendons and cartilage will remain. That’s what makes