by Good Dog People June 10, 2021 5 min read

Does your pup appear to be limping? Is it painful for them to bend their knees? Are they less energetic in their movements than usual?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you may want to consider if your dog has a trick knee. 

If you’ve never heard of a trick knee, you might be wondering - Is a trick knee a serious problem? Does it require surgery to be fixed? How can you tell if your pup has a trick knee? Let’s take a look at what a trick knee is really like and some tips for managing it!

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

What is a Trick Knee? 

Also known as a luxating patella, trick knees refer to a deformity that affects the bones in your dog’s knee cap that allow side to side movement. Their patellas (or kneecaps) can move out of place, either toward or away from their body, affecting the way they walk and move.

Trick knees are typically found in small and toy breed dogs weighing 22 pounds or less. However, larger canines may develop it over time, especially if they have hip dysplasia. 

Breeds Affected by Trick Knees

As mentioned, small to medium breed dogs are more likely to inherit Luxating Patellas. However, certain breeds have an even higher chance of experiencing trick knees.

In particular, Pomeranians have a 37.2% chance of having a trick knee and Yorkshire Terriers have a 24.4% chance. Other small breed canines like Shiba Inus, Cocker Spaniels and Toy Fox Terriers can also be affected. 

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

Symptoms of a Luxating Dog Patella

So how can you tell if your dog has a trick knee? Your dog may exhibit symptoms from the moment they are able to walk, so watch out for the following: 

  • Limping
  • Skipping as your dog runs
  • Sitting in an odd way
  • Inability to bend their knee, cries out in pain when knees are manipulated
  • Pain when moving legs
  • Less active - will not run or jump
  • Refuse to exercise
  • Swelling in legs


5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

Does My Dog Need Surgery? 

Luxating patellas can be a serious problem for dogs who have them. Thankfully there are many ways to manage it. It’s important to visit a vet to understand the ways you can help your canine manage their trick knee - they can do so through medication and confinement, but can also heal through surgery.

But not all dogs require surgical help! In fact, there are different severity levels that determine if your pup’s trick knee is bad enough to require surgery. Your vet would be able to advise on this accordingly based on thorough checks. 

As a general rule of thumb, your canine’s pain level is a good way of seeing if they require surgery. While surgery can help fix your pup’s problems, it’s not always necessary if your dog is not experiencing any pain.

However, if you do suspect your dog may have a trick knee, what can you do to manage it? 

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patellas

#1 See A Vet

If your pup experiences any of the symptoms of a trick knee, whether or not they are experiencing pain, it’s always a good idea to bring them into the vet. 

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

This is a necessary precaution as trick knees can heavily affect your pups quality of life if it’s left unmanaged and undiagnosed. Your vet will help to advise you on what you can do to help your pup maintain their quality of life, as well as prescribe medications to help manage your dog’s condition.

They can also help recommend surgery if it is required. 

#2 Manage Your Dog’s Diet

A luxating patella can be worsened by obesity. 

Obesity will cause extra pressure and stress on dog joints, negatively affecting their walking, and speeding up dog arthritis.

In order to avoid this, it’s important to help them manage their diet and prevent excessive weight gain. Raw diets like those from The Grateful Pet are a good way to help keep your pup lean. 

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

#3 Use Dog Supplements

Together with their regular diet, your dog can also benefit a lot from using luxating patella supplements like Dr. Mercola’s Joint Support Supplement for Dogs. Dog joint supplements like these help promote mobility and flexibility in your pup and are chock full of great nutrients and vitamins that your pup will definitely benefit from.

If your pup prefers tasty soft chew treats, NaturVet’s Glucosamine Soft Chew Supplements are also great dog supplements that incorporate important supplementary nutrients like glucosamine for dogs to support your pup’s joints and connective tissues!

#4 Exercise

Even with a condition like a luxating patella, your pup will still have plenty of energy and excitement for walks and exercises. While it might seem like a bad idea, walking your pup can help them keep in shape and also strengthen their muscles and tendons.

That said, if your dog does have a trick knee, it’s important to adjust their exercise to fit their needs. In particular, instead of taking them on long walks, several shorter walks throughout the day can be more beneficial for your pup.


5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

Doing exercise that has less impact on your dog’s joints is also a good idea - in particular, swimming can be a great low-impact exercise for your pup! So next time you’re going down to the beach or are swinging by a dog-friendly pool, consider bringing your furry friend along!

#5 Prepare For Treatment

In the scenario that your dog requires medical attention, it’s absolutely important to help keep your pup comfortable and calm. When bringing your pup to the vet for treatment, make sure to keep some treats like BIXBI’s Hip & Joint Salmon Jerky Dog Treats on hand!

The way to your dog’s heart is through their stomach, and tasty treats can help keep them calm and happy even on a stressful trip to the vets. 

5 Tips for Managing Luxating Patella (Trick Knees) in Dogs

Dogs are hardy creatures! Even in the face of a condition like a trick knee, your pup can still experience an amazing quality of life. All it requires is a little bit of adjustment and management in yours and your dog’s lifestyles. 

Most importantly, not all dogs with trick knees require surgery. There are many things you can do at home to help your pup maintain their quality of life. Nevertheless, if you suspect your pup may have a trick knee, it’s absolutely essential to bring them to the vet anyway to make sure you get it checked out! 
















Tammi Chng  TAMMI CHNG
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog. 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Academy

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate

by Katherine Khoo March 01, 2024 6 min read

Chocolate is toxic to dogs due to the presence of a substance called theobromine. Prevention is best. Keep all forms...
Canine Leptospirosis
Canine Leptospirosis

by Katherine Khoo February 07, 2024 5 min read

Canine leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can have serious consequences in dogs like kidney or liver damage. The Leptospira...
A Guide to Preparations for Chinese New Year House Visiting - Good Dog People™
A Guide to Preparations for Chinese New Year House Visiting

by Katherine Khoo January 31, 2024 6 min read

For many pet parents, the festivities extend beyond the human members of the family to include their furry kids. Nonetheless,...