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How To Manage Luxating Patella Without Surgery

Many dogs (especially small breeds) can live their entire life with a grade I or II luxating patella without pain or arthritis. Most vets will tell you that grade III or IV luxations need surgery sooner or later. These more severe luxations can cause increased pain, arthritis and reduced mobility.

But there’s a lot you can do to avoid surgeries in many dogs. As always, nutrition is the foundation of good health, whatever your dog’s condition.

1. Nutrition

Focusing on proper nutrition helps to …

Promote healthy, functional connective tissue

Provide building blocks for collagen synthesis

Control inflammation and pain

Supply antioxidants

Prevent osteoarthritis

To make sure your dog gets what he needs, feed your dog a whole food, raw meat-based diet and always avoid kibble. There are also some important nutrients that help protect your dog’s joints and avoid luxating patella.

Important Vitamins

Vitamin C helps collagen synthesis and is an antioxidant.

Vitamin E stabilizes cell membranes, stimulate proteoglycan, modulate the inflammatory phase of osteoarthritis and is an antioxidant.

Vitamins B1 and B6 are needed for collagen synthesis.

Important Minerals

Manganese is an essential cofactor synthesizing glycosaminoglycans. It’s involved in the synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans to form the organic matrix of bone.

Magnesium and sulphur, copper, iron and zinc all support collagen synthesis.

Selenium (especially alongside omega-3 fatty acids) may reduce inflammation in the joint. This can help manage osteoarthritis.

Calcium is necessary for bone health and muscle contractions.

Important Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. They can also help regulate the cells in cartilage and may help protect against cartilage degradation.

Glycosaminoglycans have anti-inflammatory properties and are needed for proteoglycan synthesis and collagen formation.

Chondroitin sulfate is anti-inflammatory and stimulates glycosaminoglycans and collagen synthesis.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a source of sulfur which is required for collagen synthesis. It may relieve pain. It has anti-inflammatory effects and helps reduce muscle spasm.

Bioflavonoids (flavones, flavonoids, quercetin, rutin, procyanidins) are found in vegetables, fruits, and green tea. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Manage Your Dog’s Weight

Don’t let your dog get overweight. Excess weight puts more pressure on your dog’s joints and he’ll lose mobility quicker. It can also lower joint inflammation caused by fat.

Every vet will recommend reducing your chubby dog’s weight to help with any joint problem. So keep him lean … and a raw diet will help with that! Kibble is very high in starch and offers poor quality nutrition for your dog.

3. Regular Walking

You may wonder if you should walk your dog with luxating patellas. The answer is yes … it’ll help keep your dog’s muscles and tendons strong. That helps to support the joints. But don’t do too many long walks. Several shorter walks a day is the best approach.

4. Minimize Vaccinations

Studies show that connective tissue problems are often related to vaccination. That’s because vaccines can create antibodies that destroy your dog’s collagen. And collagen is the tissue that stabilizes your dog’s joints. It’s in more than 70% of your dog’s muscles, tendons, ligaments and other joint tissues.

When joints lack collagen, the muscles and tissues also become brittle. This leads to inflammation, pain and eventually joint disease.

So don’t over-vaccinate by following conventional vet vaccination schedules. The only vaccine required regularly by law is rabies every 3 years. For other core vaccines, your dog is likely protected for life by the puppy shots he had.

So, do your research and only give the minimum vaccines your dog needs to protect him from disease.

5. Other Hands-On Management

There are several physical therapy options to support your dog’s structural health. And they can help manage luxating patellas. These include …

Exercises to increase strength and range of motion

Hydrotherapy (swimming or underwater treadmill)


Massage or other manual therapy such as myofascial release

Laser therapy


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