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Weimaraner – Patellar Luxation

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As a dog owner and dog lover, you almost always understand your Weimaraner’s actions. This is because you’ve grown to know them regarding their wants, likes and dislikes, and even their behavioral patterns.

they might come as a surprise when one day, your Weimaraner starts to behave abnormally in terms of movement. they no longer walk like they used to, seems to be in unnecessary pain almost all day, and you can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. Well, there’s a probable reason why that is.

If your Weimaraner suddenly starts to limp or lock their legs at odd angles while walking or finds it hard even to walk at all, then they may be suffering from patellar luxation. Patellar luxation is a common walking disorder in all dog breeds. Any form of injury or trauma can cause patellar luxation to the leg, either a sprain or a fracture.

Your Weimaraner may feel discomfort caused by a mild to severe pain that patellar luxation inflicts. This may also lead to an inflammation of the affected joint and cartilage (arthritis), and if proper medication attention is not sought, it may result in permanent lameness.

What Is Patellar Luxation?

Patellar luxation is a limb disorder caused by the displacement of the patella (knee cap) from the original position.  This form of the disorder affects the limb (leg) structure, which may be due to the extreme shallowness of the groove where the patella is originally placed. This disorder is more common in small dog breeds like the Chihuahuas but can affect all dog breeds.

In most cases, your Weimaraner is born with this condition, but it can also be caused by trauma or injury to the patella. Patellar luxation majorly affects the hind limb of dogs, being either one or both limbs, causing unstable hind legs and making it almost impossible for them to walk properly.

Patellar luxation can be medial or lateral. In the case of the medial patellar luxation, the patella of your Weimaraner shifts inwards (towards the body). For lateral patellar luxation, the patella shifts outwards (moving away from the body). Medial patellar luxation is more common in all dog breeds, with about a 90% occurrence rate. However, in larger breed dogs like the Weimaraner, lateral patellar luxation is more common. In either case, the dislocation is painful and acute and will most likely remain so until the injury is corrected.

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Causes of Patellar Luxation in Weimaraners

Genetic factors

Patellar luxation can be congenital (present at birth) and can also be caused by injury or trauma to the patella later. They could also be caused by skin infections around the joints. However, a significant factor in patellar luxation is genetic predisposition.

In almost all cases, patellar luxation is hereditary. This indicates that  your Weimaraner is likely to have a patellar luxation and has been decided before they were conceived. This hereditary pattern can be in two ways, according to canine genetic researchers:

The first is that either one or both parents of your Weimaraner are suffering or have suffered from patellar luxation. Your Weimaraner would likely inherit this trait.

The second is a result of selective breeding, which is done to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies. This involves mating two dogs of different breeds to produce offspring with a, particularly desirable characteristic. In this case, when the dog (Weimaraner) is born, it has a normal limb conformation. As they grow, their limb conformation starts to change, and thus, patellar luxation occurs.

If your Weimaraner is an offspring of selective breeding, then they’re likely predisposed to patellar luxation.

Environmental factors

Certain environmental factors like sex, age, and dog breed may affect your dog’s development of patellar luxation.

Sex

A study has shown that patellar luxation is more prevalent in females than in males. This is regardless of the breed of the dog. If your Weimaraner is female, she is more likely to develop patellar luxation.

Age

The occurrence of patellar luxation in dogs increases with age during the first four years of life, as shown in this study. This is more common in older dogs, and why you are advised to take your Weimaraner for examination during their second or fourth year rather than the first year. This is because it is unlikely for your Weimaraner to develop patellar luxation that early in her life.

Dog Breed

Dogs that belong to the smaller-sized group or breed are more susceptible to patellar luxation than larger ones. It is more likely for a Chihuahua to be affected than a Weimaraner. However, cases of high occurrence in larger-sized animals have also been reported.

Skeletal Defect

Patellar luxation could also result from a present skeletal defect such as hip dysplasia, a malformed femur, tibia, loss of patellar ligament, or a shallow femoral groove.

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How Patellar Luxation Can Affect Your Weimaraner

Weimaraners are very strong, agile animals, as they used to be hunting dogs in the past. This breed is accustomed to walking well on all four limbs and not limping, skipping, or jumping without a hint of pain on the affected limb. However, the incidence of patellar luxation will affect their adaptability in terms of movement. It might be a bit hard to adapt to these changes for a while.

In a worst-case scenario, your Weimaraner might go permanently lame. They won’t be able to walk for the rest of their life, just sitting in place. This can be so traumatic for a dog as active as a Weimaraner.

This usually results if patellar luxation is not quickly diagnosed or if proper care is not taken after diagnosing your Weimaraner with this condition. This may also be due to the grade of patellar luxation that your dog is experiencing.

The Life Expectancy of a Weimaraner With Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation does not affect a Weimaraner’s life expectancy. Your Weimaraner can live their entire life without any health consequence caused by patellar luxation. However, this may affect limb movement if appropriate care is not taken quickly.

Signs That Your Weimaraner Might Have Patellar Luxation

Any change in the way your Weimaraner walks can be a sign of patellar luxation. If they start to stand in a bow-legged manner, this could also be a sign of patellar luxation. The following are common symptoms that can indicate patellar luxation in your Weimaraner:

  • Skipping
  • Stiff walking or movement
  • Swelling of the limb
  • Limping
  • Inabiltheyy to stand, jump or walk
  • Acute or severe pain in the limbs

If you are not observant enough, you may not notice these symptoms. A veterinarian can correctly diagnose your dog in most cases.

Patellar luxation has varying grades, which determines the degree of luxation of the patellar. Your Weimaraner’s veterinarian can effectively diagnose this. The level of pain or discomfort that your Weimaraner feels will depend on the grade of patellar luxation that is present. The grade ranges from 1 to 4 with differing specific features.

Grade 1

In this case, the kneecap displaces from the original position (groove of the femur) due to a manual force. However, the displaced kneecap returns to the original position immediately when the pressure is removed.

In most cases, grade 1 presents no clinical symptoms and is often diagnosed during a routine checkup by your veterinarian without prior notice.

Grade 2

In grade 2, the kneecap dislocates from the original position due to a manual force. But unlike grade 1, it does not return to the original position after the manual pressure is removed. Instead, the kneecap remains dislocated until it is manually adjusted back to its position.

This grade of patellar luxation can be painful, especially if the cartilage becomes injured or inflamed due to recurring luxation

Grade 3

Grade 3 results from repeated patellar luxation. The kneecap becomes displaced regularly and can be placed back to the position by manual force. It may then become displaced again by any movement once the pressure is removed.

If your Weimaraner exhibits this grade, it will be more painful, and you might find it hard for your dog to move around.

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Grade 4

This grade presents a somewhat permanent patella displacement that cannot return to the normal position by just manual force. This grade is the most severe form of patellar luxation and, if appropriate care is not given, can lead to the lameness of your Weimaraner.

Any of these four grades can seem impossible to detect. If you notice any form of walking dysfunction in your Weimaraner, it is best to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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How to care for and treat your Weimaraner for patellar luxation

Your vet would likely recommend the treatment for a luxating patella after assessing your Weimaraner. This may range from rehabilitative exercises to a surgical process. However, this is dependent on the grade of your Weimaraner’s patellar luxation.

If your Weimaraner is in grade 1, it most likely would be manually placed back into its original position after luxation has occurred. This can be treated with medications for inflammation and pain to reduce the risk of infection and diseases. Since the injury is not recurring, it may likely never happen again if there is no external stress or force to the patellar. However, if they are in grades 2 to 4, your vet would likely recommend corrective surgery as the only option.

Surgery

There are various surgery options for patellar luxation, and this depends on the manner of patellar luxation that your Weimaraner has developed. They include:

Soft tissue reconstruction: Depending on the grade of patellar luxation, this would involve reconstruction and repair of damaged soft tissue. The different surgical procedures include Capsulectomy, excision of redundant reticulum, quadriceps release, and desmotomy.

  • Recession sulcoplasty
  • Femoral varus osteotomy
  • Trochleoplasty: This would involve modification of the groove of the trochlea. The various surgery options for this process include trochlea block recession, trochlear wedge recession, trochlear chondroplasty.

These surgeries would involve deepening the femoral groove where the patella initially sits on and reinforcing soft tissue and cartilages of the affected limb.

The main goal of these surgeries is to repair damaged tissues and cartilages of the limb and realign them back to their original shape and position.

However, a luxating surgery is not always successful, as claimed by most veterinarians. Like every other kind of surgery, certain risks come with luxating surgeries in dogs. A 2019 study shows that 37% of every luxating surgeries present complications after surgery.

The complications could be serious or negligible, but they are not specific to any of the types of luxating surgeries. They include:

  • Osteomyeltheyis
  • Fracture of the tibia or femur
  • Patellar relaxation
  • Wound reopening
  • Septic arthritis
  • Implant failure

You cannot predict any of the complications, and that’s why it is advisable to choose luxating surgery only if there is no other option.

Since patellar luxation is almost always inherited, it cannot be reversed. The only way to avoid or prevent patellar luxation in your Weimaraner is to acquire a breeder with no genetic or hereditary predisposition in the parents.

Food supplements

However, certain food supplements can be incorporated into your Weimaraner’s diet to avoid surgeries. These supplements include:

Vitamins

Incorporating Vitamin C, E, and some B complexes in your dog’s diet can help in collagen synthesis and inflammation modulation in the case of any form of arthritis of the joints and acts as an antioxidant.

Minerals

Calcium and phosphorus are both important components of a strong bone and thus, help in bone formation. Manganese, zinc, sulphur, copper, and iron also support collagen synthesis. Selenium can also help to prevent arthritis of the joints.

Other important supplements like omega-three fatty acids, bioflavonoids, glycosaminoglycans have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help bone and cartilage reformation.

Medications

Medications like narcotics and steroids can be given to your Weimaraner to ease the pain. They can also provide an anti-inflammatory action to the joints and cartilages of the affected limb.

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What Steps Can Dog Owners Take To Help Their Weimaraners with Patellar Luxation Live the Best Life Possible?

After you get the surgery done for your Weimaraner, your dog will still need a few weeks to recover fully. You can hasten the recovery phase by doing the following:

Post-operative exercises

After the surgery, there are certain exercises that you can do to aid your dog’s recovery. These exercises can also enhance flexibility and widen the range of motion without damaging the recovering limb. They include:

  • Assist in the flexion and extension of each joint on the recovering limb
  • Make sure to rotate the recovering limb around a painless range of motion, gently without causing friction to the joints.
  • Restrict the movement of your Weimaraner for the first few weeks after the surgery
  • After this, try to give them a 5-minute walk around your premises once every day.
  • Make sure they receive the maximum amount of rest during the recovery phase.
  • After the first two months and permission from your vet, you can introduce your dog to walk and engage in less strenuous playful activities.
  • Get them to sit and repeatedly stand, as this will help build up the muscles of the affected limb.

All these routines should be monitored and appropriately timed to avoid overdoing and causing more damage to the already affected limb.

Physical Therapy

Various therapies will support and encourage the reformative limb health processes. These will further aid in the quick recovery of the affected limb and patella. The physical therapies include:

  • Gentle massage to relieve tension or pain from the recovering limb
  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Cryotherapy – This is simply the therapeutic application of low temperatures to reduce inflammation and edema, decrease cellular metabolism, and decrease blood flow. The application of cold packs, ice cups, or ice-filled bandages is usually effective for cryotherapy.

These procedures might fall on the expensive side, so you can contact your pet health insurance company to cover the cost.

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Importance

The main purpose and importance of these post-operative activities are to ensure that your Weimaraner returns to their normal self after surgery, maintain the quality of life, and prevent a relapse in injury. This also helps to reduce recovery and reparative time so that your Weimaraner can be back to themselves in no time.

For the next 4 or 5 weeks after the surgery, your Weimaraner must avoid the following:

  • Demanding activity or exercise that can cause a relapse of the limb.
  • Jumping or any other form of strenuous activity should be avoided.
  • Prevent them from opening or removing the bandage used in securing the recovering limb.
  • Avoid vaccination, at least for recovery. This is because studies have shown that vaccines destroy collagen, and this collagen helps in building your dog’s bones and cartilage.

Patellar luxation can be very traumatic to your Weimaraner. That’s why it is very important you have knowledge about patellar luxation and how to deal with it if the need arises. Patellar luxation can result in excessive sleeping in your Weimaraner as they’ll be very tired.

Make sure that anytime you notice something weird in your dog’s behavior, or you figure out that they have any of these issues, always take them to veterinary practitioners or canine genetic researchers. Never give your pet medication or treatment without consulting your veterinarian. We hope you have found this article educational and that it has provided you with all the necessary information you need.