There so many reasons why your dog might have a knee injury. In fact, veterinarians say a dog knee injury is a very common reason for limping and other mobility issues.
The reason why is joints are complex (and a little delicate.) Especially the knees. There’s a small ligament that connects the upper and lower legs and stabilizes the knee. In humans, it’s called the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and in dogs, it’s the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament.)
You may have heard of people (and dogs) tearing their ACL. It’s common in active dogs particularly. For example, running and jumping to call a ball may be fun but you’ve probably seen a dog go down in a crash landing. Such landings can damage the CCL if not when the dog is young, as they get older.
The CCL is usually a gradual degeneration rather than an acute injury. That’s why you often see it in senior dogs. But you also see it in overweight pets because extra weight also puts more pressure on the joints.
Here are some classic symptoms.
Symptoms of a CCL or Dog Knee Injury
Depending on the dog and the severity of the issue, the symptoms might be mild. For example, you might see your pup “favoring” one leg over the other at times. Other dogs will be in a lot of pain. They might not be able to put weight on the leg that’s bothering them. As a result, they won’t want to go for walks or engage in normal activities.
Other signs include:
- Having trouble with stairs or reluctant to jump on the bed or other furniture.
- Struggling to get up from a resting spot
- Lack of interest in games or other activities they usually enjoy.
Anytime your dog starts behaving differently, it’s a good time to pay attention to the specifics. It could be a momentary twinge or it could be a sign of something serious. You can make notes on your phone so you can share your observations with your veterinarian.
To check for a dog knee injury, your veterinarian will probably x-ray your pup and take them through a physical exam. Sometimes dogs have fluid on the knees or arthritis in addition to a torn CCL.
Once your veterinarian has made a diagnosis, you can determine the treatment.
Does Your Dog Knee Injury Need Surgery?
Maybe. Truly, only you and your veterinarian can make an appropriate treatment plan for your dog. It depends on the diagnosis as well as your expectations and the health/age/breed of the dog.
If you have a senior dog and want to provide pain relief, you might be able to meet your objectives with a pain management plan. Maybe such a plan will include physical therapy like walking on an underwater treadmill. In some cases, resting your dog for a few days might be helpful.
If your dog is younger, in overall good health, and does have a CCL tear, then you may choose to opt for CCL surgery. But every case is different and needs to be individually evaluated. That said, the bone cutting technique (TPLO surgery) which is what CCL surgery is, is a well-established procedure with a high level of success.
If you go the surgical route, your dog will need a lot of rest during the recovery. Many people find this dog sleeve protection helps their dog heal 3x as fast. What about you? Does your dog have a dog knee injury?