Luxating Patella / Cranial Cruciate Ligament

Sep 21, 2022 | Pet Health, Pets, Tips and Tricks

Happy Wednesday everyone!  I’ve mentioned in the last few blog posts that Jake has had some surgery and that surgery was to fix a Luxating Patella and Cranial Cruciate Ligament.  He is doing very well but we had some ups and downs with him getting an infection and discharge from the knee cap and incision.  I apologize for some of the photos as they are a bit hard to look at but I wanted you to see what this type of surgery looks like.
The beginning of August I noticed Jake favoring his back leg.  A trip to the vet indicated a dislocated knee cap also known as a Luxating Patella.  The knee cap was popped back in place and we were sent home with pain meds (Rimadyl) with low activity and light walks on a leash for two weeks.  After the two weeks, I noticed he was feeling discomfort and favoring his leg again.  This time we were told he dislocated his knee again inward (which doesn’t typically happen in that direction) and tore his Cranial Cruciate Ligament otherwise known as an ACL tear.  This meant surgery, a $2,000 vet bill, and 30 days of recovery with light walking, no running, and pain medication.
During surgery, the groove that keeps the knee cap in place was widened and also moved the crest of the tibia over to straighten the leg and knee cap.  There was a mild amount of arthritis and adhesions in the joint but the vet was able to clean all the up.  The inside ridge was misshapen, likely from birth or an injury in the first 4 months of his life, allowing the knee cap to slide off.  He deepened the groove and pulled the knee cap back over also placing a suture to stabilize the cruciate ligament.
On August 18th Jake had a successful surgery and was sent home the same day with 18 staples in his knee.  Our post-operative instructions were as follows:
Week 1:
Cold Compresses for 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times daily for a week
Range of motion exercises for 20 cycles, 2 times a day as soon as he will let me – Jake was not thrilled with this at all!
Week 2-6:
Walk up and down inclines for 5 minutes, 3 times daily.  Do cold compresses after walks
Continue range of motion exercises for 20 cycles 3 times daily
The incision care was as follows:
*Ice the incision every 8-12 hours for 5-10 minutes for the fire 7 days.  Warm compresses thereafter.
*Look for reddish drainage which is normal for the first couple of days.
*Monitor for pus like drainage.
*If it looks like tomato soup, we were to all immediately as this would be very bad.
*The stapes were to be removed after 10-14 days
*Watch for swelling.
*Prevent scratching, rubbing, and licking.  We were sent home with an E-collar but Jake didn’t need it.  He really didn’t lick his wound that much like I thought he would.
We followed the instructions but after two weeks, the knee started to swell and leaking a light red fluid.  I called the vet and was told this was normal and to keep it drained.  We were a bit nervous because our trip to Franklin, TN was fast approaching and we thought we would have to cancel it.  Jake was in some discomfort and not feeling 100% but for the most part very quiet.  He allowed us to do what we had to do and was very patient with us.  The Friday before our trip we noticed his knee had swollen to the size of a tennis ball, warm to the touch, and full of fluid.  I placed a call to the vet who ordered Cephalexin and was told to keep the wound drained.  Immediately upon taking the meds, Jake vomited.
We woke Saturday, gave him another pill which he vomited.   We made an emergency visit to the vet.  Jake was allergic to Cephalexin and had a small infection in the knee.  He was put on antibiotics/pain meds and the incision was re-opened (approximately 1 inch) and drained.  Some staples were removed but some were left to keep the incision from breaking open all the way.  The vet could not stress enough that the incision needed to remain open for draining.  Jake was cleared to go on vacation with instructions of light walking and absolutely no running.  Every morning and every night we cleaned and drained Jake’s knee using hot compresses.  We were careful not to push him and he did amazing.
Follow-up and remaining staple removal
Jake still had some swelling in the knee known as Hemarthrosis.  Hemarthrosis is a condition characterized by an artery bleeding in a joint cavity where two bones meet.  The fluid that had been leaking from the knee is called Synovial Fluid.  Synovial fluid is the thick liquid that lubricates your joints and keeps them moving smoothly.  This time the fluid buildup in Jake’s knee was acting as a compression helping to stop the broken blood vessel from bleeding and we were to leave it alone.  Per doctors orders were were to allow the swelling to go down on its own which takes approximately 2-3 weeks and good news…it’s gone down considerably.  The worst case scenario would’ve been to open his knew up again to put a drainage tube in.
What is Hemarthrosis? A great website and very informative info –
What Are The Three Main Functions Of Synovial Fluid?
It allows the ends of the bones to move without friction and lubricates the joint.
It contains nutrients needed for the cartilage at the ends of the bones and carries away waste.
It acts as a shock absorber
Jake is resting, walking, eating, drinking, and is back to his old self.  Maggie has been watching over him (probably annoying him more than watching him) and all is good.  We still have swelling and he is a bit behind on his recovery but the vet said there is nothing to worry about.  Every animal is different.  If you are facing ACL surgery for your pet, I hope this post helps you.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will try and answer them.
Looking for more pet health related topics:

I’m Bobbi Jo, a lab-lover who took my passion for animals and dogs and turned it into something bigger.  When I adopted Jake and Maggie, my love for them became the driving force behind Two Adorable Labs, and my blog was born.  My hope is to not only share them with the world, but to help educate others on the importance of animal health and well-being. 

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  1. Barbara Bolduc

    OMG Poor Jake! He’s been through the wringer along with mommy and Daddy. I can’t believe all what you had to do to facilitate his recovery. Thank God your seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Good job Momma! That was a substantial injury and could of not had the outcome you’ve had. I’ve been blessed with all my fur babies that I haven’t had to experience what you’ve had to deal with. Hugs to Jake! ????????????

    • Two Adorable Labs

      Thank you! Yes, it’s been something. We’ve had quite the time of it but Jake is feeling much better and putting weight on his leg. It’s just going to take time. Thank goodness you haven’t had to go through this.


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