Easter is approaching and chocolate bunnies are filling up the shelves at grocery stores. While walking your dogs to the grocery stores, you noticed that your dog is pretending to be a bunny as they are bunny hopping instead of walking.

You dismiss this as you find it cute and adorable; but in reality, this simple sign is telling you something is wrong.

Bunny hopping in dogs is a very common sign of an issue called patellar luxation. This medical condition usually occurs in small breed dogs like Pomeranians and chihuahua as the groove in their bone that holds their knee caps are not as deep as it should be causing the knee cap (patella) to “pop out” to the left or the right. This symptom usually occurs when the dog is running too fast, having sudden acceleration, or any abrupt movement in their hind limbs. As such, bunny hopping is just a mild symptom of this condition as there are four possible grades to determine how severe this issue is for the dog.

The mildest condition of patellar luxation is grade 1. Grade 1 consists of the kneecap mostly being within the groove of the knee, but can be pushed out via manual pressure. For this case, this is usually diagnosed when a veterinarian is performing a physical examination of the dog as symptoms do not appear on a daily basis. For grade 2, the knee cap will occasionally when the dog is performing vigorous exercise and can be seen as the dog will be limping or bunny hopping. When this occurs, the kneecap will normally revert back to its normal position and the dog will act as if nothing has happened. As symptoms appear more regularly and the kneecap does not revert back to its normal position itself and
requires manual pressure, it is deemed as a grade 3. Lastly, if the dog is limping all the time and unable to put any weight on its hindlimbs, then it is considered a grade 4.

The only solution to patellar luxation is surgery. The surgery consists of a veterinarian deepening the groove that holds the patella to prevent it from popping out and to increase the tension of the tissues around the patella as well to hold it in place. Surgery is definitely performed on patients who have a grade 3 or 4 luxation, but will usually occur for patients with a grade 2 luxation as well as this condition may get worse over time.

All in all, patellar luxation is a very common medical condition in small dogs like Pomeranians and chihuahuas, but can easily be fixed and allow the patient to have a normal life afterward. As such, next time when you see your dog bunny-hopping; as cute as it may be, it should signify that your dog may have a patellar luxation condition.