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Dog Knee Surgery

Dog Knee Surgery

Surgery may be the most effective treatment option if your dog is suffering from knee pain due to a torn cruciate ligament, similar to ACL injuries in humans. Our veterinarians at Roswell have examined three surgical methods to address this common knee injury in dogs.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

Ensuring that your furry companion leads a happy and healthy life involves taking measures to maintain their knee health and prevent pain. Just like human knees, your dog's knees depend on a balanced diet and sufficient physical activity. While providing nutritious food and supplements can help to keep their joints in good condition, it's important to note that cruciate ligament injuries, also known as ACL injuries, can still occur unexpectedly and cause significant knee pain for your pet.

These injuries can happen abruptly during playtime or gradually over time. Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize your dog's knee health to prevent any discomfort or distress.

What is the cranial cruciate ligament (ACL) in dogs?

Did you know that the CCL, or cranial cruciate ligament, is an important ligament in your dog's leg? It connects the two large leg bones, enabling your dog's knee to function properly and painlessly.

What is tibial thrust?

If your dog has a torn cruciate ligament, they may experience pain due to instability in their knee joint, which can lead to a motion known as 'tibial thrust'. Tibial thrust is a problematic sliding movement that occurs when weight is transmitted up your dog's shin and across their knee, causing their shin to move forward forcefully. This sliding occurs because the top of their tibia is sloped, and their injured ligament is unable to prevent this painful motion.

What are the signs of a ligament injury in dogs?

If your pooch is suffering from knee pain due to an injured cruciate ligament they will not be able to perform a number of movements normally, such as walking or running. Other symptoms of knee injuries that you should watch for are: 

  • Reluctance to exercise or climb stairs
  • Difficulties rising up off of the floor
  • Limping in their hind legs
  • Stiffness following exercise

Can surgery repair my dog's knee injury?

If your furry friend is displaying symptoms of a torn ligament, it's crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Ligament injuries in dogs are excruciating and may not heal on their own. In fact, if one of your pet's cruciate ligaments is damaged, there is a good chance that they may suffer the same injury in the other leg. To restore your dog's mobility, your veterinarian may recommend one of three knee surgeries. Therefore, it is advisable to have your pup diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to prevent the condition from escalating.

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization
  • This knee surgery is often used to treat smaller dogs that weigh less than 50 pounds, and works by preventing the tibial thrust with the help of a surgically placed suture. The suture stabilizes your pup's knee by pulling the joint tight and preventing the front-to-back sliding of the tibia so that the ligament has time to heal, and the muscles surrounding the knee have an opportunity to regain their strength.
TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy
  • TPLO reduces tibial thrust without having to rely on a dog's cruciate. TPLO surgery involves making a complete cut through the top of your dog's shin bone (called their tibial plateau) and then rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. A metal plate will then be added to the area where the cut was made in order to stabilize the bone as it heals. Over the course of several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal to regain their strength and mobility.
TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement
  • TTA surgery involves separating the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone, then adding a spacer between the two sections to move the front section of the tibia up and forward. This can help to prevent much of the tibia thrust movement from occurring. A bone plate will be attached to hold the front section of the tibia in its new corrected position until the bone has had adequate time to heal. 

Which type of knee surgery is right for my dog?

To properly assess your dog's knee movement and geometry, it is advisable to take your pet to a vet for a thorough examination. The vet will take into account your dog's age, weight, size, and lifestyle before recommending the appropriate treatment. After a complete evaluation of your pet's condition, the vet will suggest the best surgical option to treat your dog's knee injury.

How long will it take for my dog to recover from knee surgery?

Recovering from knee surgery is a lengthy process that demands patience. Although some canines can walk within 24 hours post-surgery, it may take 16 weeks or longer for them to heal and resume their regular activities fully. To ensure a speedy and safe recovery for your beloved pet, it is important that you diligently follow your veterinarian's post-operative instructions. This will minimize the risk of re-injury to the knee and facilitate a smooth return to normal activities.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you interested in learning more about your dog's treatment options when it comes to knee surgery? Contact Animal Emergency Center of North Fulton today to get started.

Experienced Emergency Vet Care

Animal Emergency Center of North Fulton is an after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1991. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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