First and foremost: pay attention to the discharge instructions your veterinarian has given you if your pet just had surgery or has received instruction regarding an injury. Please pay special attention to the part about no running, jumping, or playing.
If your veterinarian did not say so, please note there should not be any flying over couches, galloping stairs, jumping into or out of cars and trucks, jumping onto couches or your bed, jumping off of couches or beds, twisting very fast in tight circles, sliding on ice, or freedom in and out of doggie doors. No owner jumping out from behind things to scare the dog into running crazy funny around the house like you sometimes like to do. No running really means no running to the door when the doorbell rings, no running away from Halloween costumes, no running from one end of the house to the kitchen every time the fridge or a plastic bag is opened, no running to you when you yell to ask the dog if it wants to go outside, and no running inside after the ball, which is very similar to no running outside after the ball. No, no swimming until at least 8 weeks after surgery and no lameness is present.
For further instructions, please see the additional links on this page about steps to follow after surgery.
and please see my related books (on Amazon.com. If these links don’t work for you, please search the titles, because I’ve made them available in all the countries Amazon has available…it just may be a different link for you than the one I posted here).
The first four weeks of information are the same for non-surgical and surgical treatment of luxating patellas, as they are for my rehab homework for torn knee ligament. Soon I will have a specific title available that deals with more specifics of luxating patellas.
Many cases of luxating patellas do not actually require surgery for correction; your veterinarian and I are able to work together in most cases to devise a plan that immediately reduces pain using medical pain control and gradually reduces pain while increasing thigh muscle & strength with rehabilitation protocol. There are many adjunctive therapies that are also helpful at this time, and they are discussed further in the book noted above. Also, please follow this link https://rehabdeb.com/pet-massage/ for some info on massage.
In some cases the patella ceases to luxate (flip off groove) when greater thigh muscle is created through strengthening exercises. In some cases the increased exercise and specific exercise protocol for individual animals does not completely eliminate luxation, however in those rehab cases, luxation is often reduced and pain is either eliminated or greatly reduced. These exercises are designed on a case-by-case basis and may include general walking, hill walking, sand walking, sand pile climbing, stairs, and a variety of other exercise physiology-based activities.
For animals with grades 1 and 2 luxation, rehabilitation protocol has worked successfully to reduce pain and/or luxation as well. Grade 3 luxations are often similarly aided, however depending on the size and lifestyle of the animal or the severity of lameness, your vet may yet recommend surgery. Grade 4 luxations almost always require surgery to hopefully improve quality of life, especially as your pet ages, and post-op rehab protocol should be advised (a notation of which follows this outline).
Rehabilitation should continue for at least six to eight weeks. Often owners relax around week 4, especially if things seem to be going very well. If a rehab consult is not possible for an owner at week 5, then restrictions and exercises as per week 4 should be continued until an evaluation is made and new exercises are given or for the duration of the post-op restriction period suggested by your veterinarian.
copyright 2007, Deborah Carroll