“Skip to my Lou” ... Why my pet skips when walking?

Ever see your pup hop and skip when walking around town? Sure, sometimes its cute and doesn’t seem to bother them much, but did you know that this type of walk may indicate an underlying orthopedic issue? 

The most common issue identified with this type of gait is called patellar luxation. The patella, also known as the knee-cap, is a small bone located below tendons of the thigh muscle and rides between grooves within the femur, the thigh bone.

Think of the knee-cap as a “boulder” and the groove as a “valley” of sorts. In normal movement, these two glide up and down when the knee is bent and flexed.

Patellar luxation, also known as dislocation, is when the cap rides out of the groove when the knee is flexed, or when the “boulder hops over the valley.” This orthopedic disease is one of the most common conditions in dogs and is mostly seen in smaller breeds. However, incidence in larger breeds has been report and looks to be rising.

The most common sign with patellar luxation is a “hop & skip” gait on one or both back legs. This “skip” come from the knee-cap going “over the valley’s ridge” causing them to hop.

Over-time, underlying arthritis  and pain can develop in these patients along with intermittent limping. The disease is grades based on the severity of luxation from a 1 to a 4 and can be diagnosed on physical exam and with x-rays of both knees.

While lower grades can adapt to the changes, higher grades may require surgical correction. Regardless of the grade, most pets will develop some degree of arthritis that can lead to subsequent pain and discomfort.

Talking with your veterinarian is key to getting and early diagnosis and management plan.

So, while they may look cute, chat with your vet to make sure your pup is as comfortable and healthy as possible!


To happy joints and happier pups!

Dr. Nicky

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