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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22595
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My elderly friend has a 1 year old cavachon - she went to her

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My elderly friend has a 1 year old cavachon - she went to her usual vet just for a check up and to have her nails clipped and they have told her that she might have a problem with her rear leg (patella Luxation) They have xrayed her leg, but the vet isn't sure how serious the problem is or even if it needs treating. She is going to send the xray to another branch of the practice for another vet to have a look at the xray and let her know if it will need operating on. The dog has shown no signs of any problems, no limping, no holding her leg up, nothing at all, so this has come as a shock. The vet is recommending that it is operated on (my friends insurance runs out in May so they are pushing her to get it done next week!) My friend is worried that the operation is not really necessary as there are no symptoms. What I would like to know is, is it really necessary to operate and put the dog through 6 weeks of recovery for fix something that hasn't even caused her any problems? The xray cost £460 and the vet is now advising my friend to speak to the consultant at a cost of £230. Many thanks

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today.

Now luxation of the patella (which just means that the knee cap pops out of its groove at the knee joint) is a common condition for our small breed dogs. It tends to appear with a range of severity. Mild or Grade 1 cases (which sounds to be the case with Sukhi) will luxate on rare occasion (or exam) but be without symptoms. Where more severe cases (Grade 2 with lameness or Grade 3-4) can pop that knee cap out to the point it is rarely in the groove causing lameness, pain, and preventing the dog from bending their knee.

In regards ***** ***** to operate, we tend to do based off the grade of the luxation and the dog's clinical signs. Grade 1's + Grade 2's without symptoms often don't need surgery. Those worse then that often do. Of course, we do have to appreciate that over time it is possible for the luxation worsen and surgery may be indicated in the future. So, if she has been diagnosed with this condition, we do want to monitor for any issue over her lifetime.

With this all in mind, if Sukhi isn't lame, painful, seen shaking this leg out, bunny hopping (signs that a dog is popping their knee cap back in), and is perhaps a Grade 1-2; then surgery is not absolutely necessary at this stage. I suspect if your friend isn't planning to renew her insurance (which it is advisable to do so in case this does ever worsen as some will) her vet is just trying to head off any future issues. But of course, one can choose to monitor the situation if she is comfortable in herself with this leg. That said, if Sukhi worsened at any stage of her life and surgery was needed, then surgery could be done down the line.

Overall, if she is without symptoms of the condition, then operating may not be absolutely necessary at this point. Still because this issue has been recognized and could potentially cause issue later in life, it would be prudent to make sure your friend continued her insurance (be aware if she switches company now this may be excluded from cover as a pre-existing condition) just in case Sukhi did need surgery in the future. That way she doesn't need to rush into surgery now, but would be able to have it done if Sukhi ever needed it.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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