Luxating Patella

What Is It?

Luxating Patella in dogs, also known as slipping kneecap, occurs when the patella dislocates outside of its normal stabilising trochlea groove – a depression on the front of the femur which is meant to provide a ridge in which the patella sits.

NB: If your dog has been diagnosed with Grade 1or 2 Luxating Patella please visit and find your dog’s local therapist. These therapists have been tutored in the manipulation of the rectus femoris which can significantly help the alignment of the patella. (Please note therapists are not skeletal bodyworkers and do not manipulate ANY bones).

See a Therapist from the Guild, and your dog may not require surgery (to be determined by your vet)

There are 4 Grades of Luxating Patella

1) Patella luxates and returns to normal position
2) Patella luxates when stifle is flexed and remains in this position until the stifle is extended (straightened)
3) Patella is luxated for a majority of the time, can be manually replaced but will luxate again in a short period of time.
4) Permanent luxation. Patella stays misaligned and will not sit in its groove even for short periods


  • Breed predisposition
  • Activities of daily living e.g. a dog who lives on laminate floor
  • Persistent standing on back legs
  • Trauma

Signs / Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Lameness
  • ‘Clicking’ around the knee
  • Hop Hop Skip
  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • Altered gait e.g. walks in crouched position, unable to straighten affected leg

How Massage May Help

Canine Massage can seriously help dogs with Grade 1 Luxating Patella and may even result in your dog not needing surgery – your vet would objectively reassess for this and the therapist would provide a full report. Only Canine Massage Guild Therapists have been tutored to help specifically deal with this issue by using an integrative blend of soft tissue bodywork. Please note that therapists DO NOT manually manipulate bone, only muscle. For higher grades massage won’t help to realign the patella but can help with pain management and overcompensation.

Massage for dogs with luxating patella:

  • Improves comfort and reduces pain
  • Improves mobility
  • Addresses areas of protective muscle splinting
  • Improves gait and activity levels
  • Helps a return to normal, sensible exercise