Does My Dog Need Knee Surgery?

Does My Dog Need Knee Surgery?

It's relatively common for our canine companions to suffer from knee injuries, in particular, affecting their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Here, your Plains vets explain when your pup may require surgery to repair damage to their knee and get them up and running again and what surgery options they have available to them.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

Maintaining the health of your canine companion is critical to helping your dog live a pain-free and active lifestyle.

While there are a wide variety of supplements and diets that your vet will be able to recommend to y6ou in order to help keep your dog's joints in prim condition, cruciate injuries (the equivalent of ACL injuries in people) can happen. And when they do, your pup is likely to experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. 

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

Your dog's cranial cruciate ligament (also called their CCL, ACL or cruciate) is one of your dog's two ligaments connecting their shins to their thighs and allow for the proper movement of their knee. 

Injuries stemming from a torn cruciate can come on quite suddenly during exercise. But, they can also occur gradually over a long period of time. If your pup has an injured cruciate and continues to run, jump and play, their injury is liable to become much worse. 

Tibial Thrust

When your pup has a torn cruciate, their pain arises from instability in their knee and a joint motion called "tibial thrust."

This is a sliding motion caused by your dog transmitting weight up their shin bone and across their knee when it isn't properly supported and Stabilized. This caused the shine bone to thrust forward in relation to their thigh bone. The top of your dog's stibia is sloped and if your pup's cruciate ligament isn't able to stop the unwanted movement, it will cause them excessive pain. 

Signs & Symptoms of Knee Injuries in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from knee pain due to an injured cruciate they will not be able to run or walk normally and will likely display other symptoms such as:

  • Limping in their hind legs
  • Stiffness following exercise
  • Difficulties rising up off of the floor

Surgery Options for Treating Knee Injuries in Dogs

Injuries to your pup's knee generally don't heal on their own. If your dog is showing symptoms of a torn cruciate, it's important to see a vet and to have their condition diagnosed so they can receive treatment before it becomes more severe, 

If your dog has a torn cruciate your vet is likely to recommend one of three different orthopedic surgeries to help your dog regain normal mobility.

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

This surgical treatment is most often used to treat dogs that weigh under 50 pounds. It helps to prevent tibial thrust with a surgically-placed suture. It stabilized your pup's knee by pulling their joint tight and preventing the front-to-back sliding of tibial thrust so your dog's cruciate and surrounding muscles are given a break and time to heal. This surgery is quite quick, uncomplicated and has a good success rate in small-to-medium-sized dogs. 

TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

TPLO is a more complicated surgery and aims to reduce your dog's tibial thrust without relying on their cruciate to control and stabilize the joint. This surgery involve cutting the top of your pup's tibia and then rotatingit in order to change the angle to stop the sliding. Them, a metal plate is added to stabilize the cut bone as it heals. Over several month, your companion's leg will stabilize, heal, and strengthen.

TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA surgery is quite similar to TPLO but, instead, is a bit less invasive. This involves separating the front of the tibia from the rest of the bone, adding a space between the two sections and then moving this front section forward and up. This helps prevent most of the tibial thrust from occurring with a change in angle. Your vet will attach a bone plate to the front of the tibia until it has enough time to heal. Any dog with a steep tibial p[lateau (the section at the top of their tibia) is a good candidate for this surgery.

Which type of knee surgery is right for my dog?

After a though assessment of the movement and structure of your dog's knee, your vet will make a recommendation based on their findings, as well as your dog's size, weight, age, health and lifestyle.

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

HEaling from knee surgery is a long process. While some dogs are able to walk within 24 hours of their surgery, a full and safe recovery will take anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks or more. If you follow you vet's post-operative instructions, you'll be able to help your dog return to their normal level of activity safely and with minimal risk of reinjury.

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.

To discover more about your options for knee surgery when treating a knee injury affecting your dog's CCL, ask your vet about a referral to Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital today. We will be able to help explain your treatment options as well as provide high quality surgical care for your Plains dog.

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