Noticing dog knee injuries can be difficult, since many Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg owners may not even be aware of where their pet’s knee is located. You may all of a sudden notice that your pet isn’t using his back leg, and seems to be in pain. At the Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation Center, we create individualized treatment plans for injured or post-surgical pets to help them recover. We offer the most up to date therapies including hydrotherapy, dry land exercises, therapeutic massage, low-level laser, nutritional counseling, and surgical options.
Types of Dog Knee Injuries
There are a few different types of dog knee injuries that we see here at our hostpial, serving Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg. If your pet suddenly will not put any weight on one of their hind legs, they may have a knee injury.
Your pet’s knee is called a stifle, and it is the joint that bridges the upper and lower bones in their leg. For increased stability, there are two ligaments that work together to allow for a steady, wide range of motion. When it comes to dog knee injuries, the most common ligament to be hurt is the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).
The CCL can tear during either heavy exercise or an incorrect movement; this injury is most common in middle-aged, overweight canines. When the CCL tears, either completely or partially, it is extremely painful. When it has just partially torn, it will generally respond to rest and oral NSAID therapy. Unfortunately, multiple factors lead to the high likelihood that another tear will occur soon after. This generally leads to a full thickness or complete tear.
Complete tears — surgery is recommended to stabilize the joint. Depending on a dog’s size and activity level, that will determine the best “fit” procedure. If a dog is over 30-40 pounds, reducing the plateau slope of the tibia via a leveling osteotomy surgery (TPLO or CBLO is considered the gold standard surgery). Post-op rehabilitation will improve recovery 20%.
While the stifle is a complicated joint, there are some clear cut risk factors that you should be aware of to prevent dog knee injuries such as a torn CCL:
- Irregular exercise. Don’t let your dog lounge around all week, and then expect them to hike ten miles with you on Saturday. Keep up with walks throughout the week so you and your pet can tackle that new hiking trail next weekend.
- Obesity. This goes hand in hand with exercise; overweight pets put more stress on their joints, leading to a higher chance of injury.
- Regular checkups. Your vet will be able to tell if your pet is at risk of tearing a ligament, and can give you specific preventative tips.
Patellar luxation occurs when the knee cap and tendon won’t stay in the groove it is supposed to move in. Luxations can be medial or lateral. The majority of these are congenital but occur after injury/trauma. Surgical correction must occur for your pet’s mobility and lameness to return to normal. Rehabilitation will improve recovery by 20%. It can be returned to the correct position once the muscles surrounding it have relaxed.
Typically, when this dog knee injury occurs, your pet will hold up their hind leg for a few minutes, refusing to put weight on it; once the patella returns to its correct position, your dog will act like nothing happened. This condition is most common in smaller breeds, like Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, or Boston Terriers. Larger breeds will have a deeper area for the patella to sit in, so it rarely becomes dislodged. However, it can occur if they suffer from hip dysplasia.
Grades of Patellar Luxation
- Grade 1: The patella pops out of place, but returns on its own in a few minutes.
- Grade 2: Your dog’s patella is out the groove but when put back in, will stay in on its own (for a while).
- Grade 3: The patella stays out of place regularly, and when manually pushed into place, it will not stay in the groove but reluxate. There is also remodeling of the bone that the patellar tendon inserts into.
- Grade 4: This is the worst case scenario, where the patella stays out of place all of the time, and will not remain in place, even when manually adjusted. There is significant trochlear remodeling and tibial tuberosity shifting. Surgical outcomes are variable depending on multiple factors.
No matter what grade patellar luxation your pet is experiencing, most all can cause your pet pain. If you notice signs of this happening, it is important to keep your pet at a healthy weight and regularly exercising to ensure the condition does not worsen. Weight management and exercise puts less stress on joints and allows for the ligaments surrounding the area to strengthen. Assessing the lameness, then getting a definitive diagnosis is instrumental to the best outcome.
Tampa Bay K9 Rehabilitation and Care
For help concerning all dog knee injuries, visit us today at the TBK9 Rehabilitation Center near Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg. With our state-of-the-art facility, we can create a personalized treatment plan. This way, we will help your injured or post-surgical pet live a life with less pain and more fun. We commit to providing our clients with the best care using the latest technological advances in veterinary medicine. For more information, contact us online or call us today at 727-521-3518.