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Dog Knee Surgery

Since dogs walk on all four's it is serious when they get a leg injury like a broken bone or muscle tear. In this article, our San Gabriel vets explain how 3 surgery options can be used to repair damage to your dog's leg and how to get your dog up and running again. 

Knee Injuries in Dogs

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

Although numerous premium dog foods and supplements are available on the market that veterinarians can suggest to maintain your dog's joint health, unfortunately, cruciate injuries, also known as ACL injuries, can still occur, leading to significant discomfort for your canine companion. A dog's torn ligament can feel very painful for them, so it is important to keep them healthy to prevent injury. 

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

The CCL, ACL, or cruciate is one of two ligaments in your dog's leg that connect the shin bone to the thigh bone and allow for the knee to move.

Knee pain from a torn cruciate can happen suddenly during activity or build up slowly over time. If your dog keeps running, jumping, and playing with an injured cruciate, the injury can get worse.

Tibial Thrust

When your dog has a torn cruciate pain arises from the knee's instability.

Tibial thrust happens when weight moves up the dog's shin to the knee, making the shinbone push forward over the thigh bone. This happens because the top of the tibia is sloped, and the injured cruciate can't stop this movement.

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 difficulties rising off of the floor, limping in their hind legs, and stiffness following exercise.

Surgery Options for Treating Knee Injuries in Dogs

Knee injuries typically do not heal themselves. If your dog is showing signs of a torn cruciate it's important to see a vet. They will be able to diagnose the condition so that treatment can begin before symptoms become worse.

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

1. ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

Dogs that weigh less than 50 pounds often receive this type of treatment. It 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 success rate in small to medium-sized dogs.

2. 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 making a complete cut through the top of the tibia (tibial plateau), and then rotating the tibial plateau to change its angle. Finally, a metal plate is added to stabilize the cut bone as it heals. For several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal and strengthen.

3. TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA is a slightly less invasive treatment than TPLO. This knee surgery involves surgically separating the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone, and then adding a spacer between the two sections to move the front section up and forward. This helps the knee 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 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.

How long will it take for my dog to recover from ACL 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, and then recommend the treatment that's best for your dog.

Healing from a knee surgery is a long process. While many dogs can 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.

Contact our San Gabriel specialist vets to learn about knee surgery options to treat your dog's knee injury. Book an appointment at Temple City Animal Hospital today, to help get your dog's leg heal.

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Temple City Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about caring for pets in San Gabriel area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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