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Knee Surgery For Dogs

Knee Surgery For Dogs

If your dog is suffering from a torn cranial cruciate ligament, your Douglasville veterinarian could recommend surgery to repair the damage and get your dog up and running again. Here are 3 surgery options for treating this common knee injury in dogs.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

Keeping your dog's knees healthy and pain-free is essential to providing your dog with an active lifestyle.

While there are a number of high-quality dog foods and supplements that your vet can recommend to help keep your dog's joints in good condition, cruciate injuries (or ACL injuries as they are sometimes called) happen and can cause your dog a great deal of pain.

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

Your dog's cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, ACL or cruciate) is one of two ligaments in your dog's leg that connect the shin bone to the thigh bone and allows for proper movement of the knee.

Knee pain and injury stemming from a torn cruciate can come on suddenly during exercise, but is equally likely to gradually develop over a period of time. If your dog has an injured cruciate and continues to run, jump and play then the injury is likely to become much more severe.

Tibial Thrust

When your dog has a torn cruciate pain arises from the knee's instability and a motion called 'tibial thrust'.

Tibial thrust is a sliding motion caused by the shifting of weight up the dog's shinbone and across the knee, causing the shinbone to “thrust” forward in relation to the dog's thigh bone. This forward thrust movement occurs because the top of the tibia is sloped, and the dog's injured cruciate is unable to prevent the unwanted movement from occurring.

Symptoms Of Knee Injuries In Dogs

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

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

Surgery Options for Treating Knee Injuries in Dogs

These knee injuries typically do not heal themselves. If your dog is showing signs of a torn cruciate it's important to see a vet to have the condition diagnosed so that treatment can begin before symptoms become worse.

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

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

This surgical treatment is often used to treat dog's that weigh less than 50 pounds and works by preventing the tibial thrust with a surgically placed suture. The suture stabilizes the dog's knee by pulling the joint tight and preventing the front-to-back sliding of the tibia so that the cruciate has time to heal, and the muscles surrounding the knee have an opportunity to regain their strength. ELSS surgery is fairly quick and uncomplicated with a good success rate in small to medium-sized dogs.

TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

TPLO is more complicated than ELSS surgery and aims to reduce tibial thrust without relying on the dog's cruciate. This surgery involves cutting through the top of the tibia (tibial plateau) before rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. Finally, a metal plate is added to stabilize the cut bone as it heals. Over the course of several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal and strengthen.

TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA is similar to the TPLO procedure but can be slightly less invasive. This surgery involves surgically 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 up and forward. This helps the knee by preventing the majority of the tibia thrust movement from occurring. A bone plate will be attached to hold the front section of the tibia in its correct position until the bone has had sufficient time to heal. Dogs with a steep tibial plateau (angle of the top section of the tibia) are excellent candidates for TTA surgery.

Following a thorough examination of your dog's knee movement and geometry, your vet will consider your dog's age, weight, size and lifestyle, then recommend the treatment that's best for your dog.

Your Dog's Recovery From ACL surgery

Full recovery from knee surgery can be a lengthy process is a long process. While many dogs are able to walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and a return to normal activities will take 12 - 16 weeks or more. Following your vet's post-operative instructions will help your dog to return to normal activities as soon as safely possible while reducing the risk of re-injury.

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.

If you want to know more about knee surgery options to treat your dog's cruciate injury, contact our Douglasville veterinarians today to book a consultation.

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