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Knee Surgery For Dogs

Knee Surgery For Dogs

Some dogs can experience injuries just as we do when running and playing. These injuries affect their CCL, which is just like our ACL. Today our Gillette veterinary surgeons share 3 different types of surgery to help fix this knee condition in dogs.

How common are dog knee injuries?

Your dog likely loves to play and run, which makes caring for their legs and joints a vital part of their care!

Ongoing physical exercise and care, along with a proper diet will go a long way in keeping them in peak physical shape.

That said, while there are a number of high-quality dog foods and supplements that you can give your pup to help keep their joints in good condition, cruciate ligament injuries (or ACL injuries as they are sometimes called) can still happen and cause your dog a great deal of knee pain.

Knee pain stemming from a torn ligament can happen suddenly while your dog is running or playing, or develop gradually over an extended period of time.

CCL or ACL, which is it?

This is the ligament that helps to keep your dogs knee moving as it should. In humans we refer to this as the ACL and the injury would be a torn ACL. Dogs, however, have a CCL or cranial cruciate ligament. This still has the same overall purpose as our ACL but since our dog's knee is set up differently their ligaments are as well.

This cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, ACL or cruciate) is one of two ligaments in your dog's leg that connect the shin bone (tibia) to the thigh bone (femur) and allows your pet's knee to move properly.

What happens when a dog experiences 'tibial thrust'?

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

Tibial thrust is a sliding motion caused by the transmission of weight up the dog's shin bone and across the knee, which causes the shinbone to “thrust” forward. This forward movement happens because the top of the tibia (shin bone) is sloped, and the dog's injured ligament cannot prevent unwanted movement from occurring.

Are there any common symptoms of CCL injuries to watch for?

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: 

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

How can knee injuries in dogs be treated?

The most important thing to do if your dog has experienced a knee injury is to bring them to your vet. A torn CCL will be unable to mend itself and will need intervention from a veterinary surgeon.

Dogs that are suffering from a torn CCL will quickly injure their other leg if it is left untreated.

Dogs that have a torn CCL or related knee injury will be recommended for pet surgery by our veterinary surgeons in Gillette. Here are the three most common types:

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization
  • This vet surgery in Gillette 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 relying on the dog's cruciate. TPLO surgery involves making a complete cut through the top of the shin bone (tibial plateau), then rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. A metal plate is then added to the area where the cut was made, in order to help stabilize the bone as it heals. Over the course of several months, your pup's leg will gradually heal, regaining its 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. Your veterinary surgeon in Gillette will attach a bone plate to hold the front section of the tibia in its new corrected position until the bone has had adequate time to heal. 

How will I know which surgery will be recommended for my pet?

Your surgical vet in Gillette will thoroughly examine your dog's knee to assess its movement and geometry, then consider other factors such as the dog's age, weight, size and lifestyle. Once your pet surgeon in Gillette has done a full evaluation of your pet's condition they will be able to recommend the best veterinary surgery to treat your dog's knee injury.

What are the expected recovery times from veterinary surgery?

Healing from knee surgery is always a long process and will require patience. While many dogs are able to walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and a return to normal activities can take 16 weeks or more.

Following your vet's post-operative instructions carefully will help your dog to return to normal activities as quickly as safely possible, while reducing the risk of re-injuring the knee.

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 would like to learn more about what to expect from your dog's knee surgery, contact our veterinary surgeons in Gillette to book an appointment today.

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