Patella Luxation: From Flightless to Limitless

Papillon dog jumps in agility competition

Cosette sails over broad jump in agility competition.


As a puppy, Cosette could barely walk. A visit to SAGE, then known as Veterinary Surgical Associates, confirmed that she had medial patella luxation, an anatomical deformity in her hind limbs.
“Medial patellar luxation, is a congenital and often hereditary mechanical dislocation of the patella in pets that ranges from mild Grade I luxation that often does not require surgery, to severe Grade IV luxations which are often quite debilitating to the patient. Cosette had bilateral (both knees affected) Grade III medial patellar luxations that were significantly affecting her ability to walk and certainly did not allow her to be an active puppy,” says SAGE Concord surgeon, Dr. Chuck Walls.
Patella luxation is one of the more common orthopedic problems among dogs. Many small breeds have a predisposition for luxating patellae, including Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and Pomeranians. Cosette is a Papillon.


Dr. Walls assured Diana, Cosette’s owner, that the problem could be corrected with surgery. After speaking with Dr. Walls, Diana was confident Cosette could be just as healthy and active as any other dog. Cosette would undergo bilateral patella luxation repair surgery with Dr. Walls at 7 months old.
“Cosette’s surgical repair involved balancing the muscular forces in her knee to realign the pull of the quadriceps muscle over the femur and stifle resulting a stable patella through a full range of motion,” explains Dr. Walls.


After a strict recovery period, Cosette was able to return to normal activity. In time, she began to train in agility. Weighing just five pounds, Cosette flies through tires with ease, weaves through poles, and conquers see-saw obstacles on the course. With “mom” as handler, Cosette has even won five agility titles.
Now almost 10 years old, Cosette is still an extremely active dog, and walks 2-3 miles each day with her family.
Says Diana: “Dr. Walls has given her a wonderful life.”

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