Skip to main content

Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company.

What the Heck Is Patellar Luxation and Does Pet Insurance Cover It?

Calling all pint-sized pet owners: patellar luxation is a common health concern for pets of a smaller stature. Learn about symptoms, treatments, and whether pet insurance covers patellar luxation.

man petting small dog in dog bed

As pet owners, it’s our primary responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of our furry companions. One common health concern in small dogs and cats is a condition known as patellar luxation.

Understanding this condition and its implications is essential for proactive pet care. In this article, we delve into the specifics of patellar luxation and discuss whether pet insurance typically covers its treatment.

What is patellar luxation?

Patellar luxation, often referred to as 'slipped stifle' or 'trick knee,' is a condition where the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location. The patella is a small bone located in the knee joint and is held in place by ligaments.

When these ligaments weaken or become damaged, the patella can easily slip out of its groove, leading to patellar luxation. This condition can occur in either or both knees and is often a congenital defect, meaning pets are born with it.

However, trauma or injury can also cause patellar luxation. Breeds often predisposed to this condition include small dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and Boston Terriers, though it can affect any breed or size of dog.

Patellar luxation symptoms in dogs

Symptoms of patellar luxation can vary. Some pets might show signs of limping or hobbling on one or both rear legs. They may also display an abnormal gait, often described as a 'skipping' motion where the dog hops on one leg for a few steps. In severe cases, pets might experience pain, discomfort, and loss of mobility.

Diagnosing patellar luxation

Should your pet display any of these signs, a visit to the vet is in order. Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and X-rays to determine the severity of the luxation.

Patellar luxation treatment

Treatment for patellar luxation depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may require simple monitoring and physical therapy, whereas severe cases might need surgical intervention to realign the kneecap and prevent further damage to the joint.

Recovery from patellar luxation

The recovery period post-surgery typically involves rest, medication to manage pain, and possibly physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. With proper care and management, most pets can live a normal, healthy life even with patellar luxation.

Does pet insurance cover patellar luxation?

Now, let's move on to the question of whether pet insurance covers treatment for patellar luxation. The answer can depend on the specific insurance plan and provider. Most comprehensive pet insurance policies typically cover hereditary and congenital conditions, which means patellar luxation should be covered, especially if it's a condition your pet was born with.

However, if your pet was diagnosed with patellar luxation before your insurance policy started, it might be considered a pre-existing condition, which most insurance providers don't cover. In addition, some insurance providers may exclude coverage for conditions that are common in certain breeds.

Therefore, it's essential to read the policy terms carefully and ask your insurance provider directly if you're uncertain.

The costs associated with diagnosing and treating patellar luxation can add up quickly, especially if surgery is required. Therefore, having a pet insurance policy that covers this condition can provide peace of mind and financial security.


In conclusion, understanding conditions like patellar luxation and how they are covered by pet insurance is part of responsible pet ownership. As always, regular check-ups with your vet are the best way to catch and address health issues early. By ensuring our pets are insured and well cared for, we help them lead long, happy, and healthy lives.

Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Pattern Blue

by you

Design your pet’s plan in less than 60 seconds!

medium sized cat illustration
medium sized cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Cat illustration
Your Pet's Type
Chat with an Expert