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Pom Health Issues

Pomeranian Patella Problems

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Why is My Pomeranian is Limping?

The usual answer when Pom owners ask why is my Pomeranian is limping is Patella Luxation. Patella Luxation is a common Pomeranian health problem. Luxating patella in small dogs such as Pomeranians, Toy and Miniature Poodles, Chihuahuas, Pekingese, Yorkshire Terriers is not an unusual health issue.

 In the event your Pomeranian dog is limping on back leg, or in severe cases, dog wont put weight on back leg, veterinary advice should be sought.

What Causes Pomeranian Patella Luxation?

Environment as well as genetic influences play a big part in the health of your Pomeranian. Correct Diet and medication may improve this health issue. Feeding your puppy a balanced diet may help prevent many health problems later in life. 

Normal patella. Why is my Pomeranian Limping
Normal patella. Why is my Pomeranian Limping

Figure 1 : Above 0 (normal) patella.

The kneecap (patella) is a very small bone found deep in the tendon of thigh muscles. The tendon is a tough inelastic band of tissue joining the bony attachment and the muscle. With patella luxation, the kneecap can slide out of its tendon and then slide back in again.

There Are Five Grades of Patellar Subluxation in Dogs, Based on Severity of the Problem 

Normal = 0. Number 1 signifies minimal movement of the kneecap and the dog’s owner might not be even aware of the problem. As time goes on and this disease may progress in terms of severity and duration, the lameness may occur more often until it’s there all the time.

Pomeranians with severe patella luxation appear to have “bow-legged” back legs. In grades  2, 3  and 4, surgical intervention usually proves successful. 

Patella luxation – Grades Of Severity

Patella luxation – Grades Of Severity
Patella luxation – Grades Of Severity

Patella luxation has five distinct grades. Pomeranians should have patella’s evaluated yearly as grading can become progressively worse with age.

  • Grade 0 No Luxation: The patella fits snuggly into the knee joint and no movement is felt on examination by a veterinarian.
  • Grade 1 Very Little Luxation: The patella is close to being normal. The only way to cause it to become dislocated is for digital pressure to be applied to the knee joint. Kneecap will pop back into place.
  • Grade 2 Luxating Patella : When the patella  becomes dislocated  it will stay that way. Pomeranians that suffer from this problem may have secondary osteoarthritis and joint cartilage problems if the patella is repeatedly being dislocated.  Your Pomeranian is limping and may also carry his back leg for a couple of steps before putting it on the ground and walking normally.
  • Grade 3 Luxating Patella : Your dog’s patella is dislocated more often than not. If it’s put back in place, it has the tendency to slip out again repeatedly. Pomeranians who have this level of patella luxation also face a higher risk of the anterior cruciate ligament in the stifle rupturing. Dogs falling into this level often suffer some loss of functionality. There are more “skipping” incidents and he’ll try to avoid jumping up as it can cause pain. The patella can’t always return to its normal position.
  • Grade 4 Luxating Patella : Your Pomeranian’s patella is always dislocated. His legs have so much pain that he tries not to use them. He may be unable to straighten the leg and he may have little to no desire to jump or run.
Severe patella luxation
Severe patella luxation

Figure 2 : Above 4 (severe) patella luxation. The kneecap is dislocated out of the groove.

Non Surgical Treatment for Luxating Patella in Dogs

Do not consider any type of patella luxation repair surgery until your Pomeranian at least 12 months. Consider other patellar luxation treatment options first.

Correct Diet and Exercise May Help Prevent Patellar Luxation

  1. Pomeranian puppies going through the teething stage who are lacking sufficient calcium in their diet might suddenly start limping or even carrying one leg. Other signs of a diet deficient in calcium include down on pastern, east west front, flopping ears and tails doing funny things.
  • Your Pomeranian’s diet needs to be reassessed. No red meat at all. Feed puppy tinned food and dry PUPPY food and lots of dairy products until 12 months.
  • If your Vet does want to perform patella luxation repair surgery on a Pomeranian under 12 months of age, serious consideration should be given to changing your Vet.
  • It’s vital that you feed your Pomeranian a well-balanced, nutritious diet and ensure his weight stays within a healthy range.

When Is Dog Luxating Patella Surgery An Option For Your Pomeranian?

Most vets generally recommend undergoing surgery if your pet has been diagnosed with a luxating patella.

Personally, I don’t often advise undergoing surgery if your dog has patella problems except if your Pom’s quality of life is seriously affected. If your Pomeranian can’t walk or run without feeling  pain, that’s when it’s time to think about the surgical options.

Patella Luxation. Why is my Pomeranian Limping?
Patella Luxation. Why is my Pomeranian Limping?

Luxating patella surgery recovery depends on the age and fitness of your Pomeranian. The cost of luxating patella surgery for dogs varies from Vet Clinic to Clinic. It is always a good option to obtain a second opinion prior to opting for a patella operation.

If your Pomeranian’s Patella Grade is a 3 or 4, there are Two Operations to Choose From

One is to make the trochlear wedge deeper. If your pet’s joints are flat, the surgeon will make a deeper V-shaped incision to hold his kneecap in that grove.

The other option is to tighten the joint capsule to ease tension on the ligament or patella capsule.

I recommend analysing ALL other possible non-surgical options that can add stability to your Pom’s knee BEFORE even considering correction of the problem through surgery.

If surgery is the best choice, be aware that there are always potential risks during surgery, especially from infections and anaesthetic. However, the list of risks grows longer because the procedure is carried out on one of your pet’s moving parts that’s also a weight bearing part.

Pomeranian Luxating Patella Surgery Success Rate

Dog patellar luxation surgery success rate varies a lot.  Dog luxating patella surgery success depends on the age and fitness of the patient, degree of luxation, skill of the surgeon, aftercare and more.

The list of risks for your Pomeranian include:

Pin Problems After Dog  Patellar Luxation Surgery

If a pin is inserted into your Pom to assist with the task of holding the joint in position. The pin may move and that means more surgery to take it out. At the pin’s site, an abscess (also called a seroma) may be created and either surgery or drainage is needed. 

Patellar Luxation Repair May Collapse

After your Pomeranian has undergone surgery, he’s not allowed to jump or run for approx. two months because that’s the length of time needed to fully stabilise your pet’s health once more. It’s nearly impossible to prevent your dog from being physically active so the repair may easily break down during that “restful” period.

Failed Dog Luxating Patella Surgery Procedure

10% of canines don’t demonstrate any significant improvements after undergoing dog luxating patella surgery. They still feel pain and it’s possible for this problem to cause more issues with other joints and bones.

Pomeranian Hip Dysplasia

Can Pomeranians suffer from Hip Dysplasia?  Yes, they can, but Pomeranian hip dysplasia is rare. Hip Dysplasia is a problem usually associated with the larger dog breeds.

I have been actively breeding Champion Pomeranians since 1975 and have never heard or seen Pomeranian Hip Dysplasia.

If your Pomeranian is limping please have the issue properly investigated.

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Please note: while I do discuss health, care and behavioural issues, you should never use this information as a replacement for advice from qualified veterinarians, diagnoses or recommended treatment regimes. If you have any worries about the health of your Pomeranian, your first contact should be your regular vet or, if you don’t yet have one, a vet that works locally. Never ignore or avoid treatment and/or advice from your vet because of a piece of information you have read on any website

References and Further Reading:
[1] Denise Leo “The Pomeranian Handbook”.

Luxating Patella Supplements for Pomeranians

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