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Dog Knee Injuries- Facts You Need to Know on ACL in Dogs

Dog knee injuries, Anterior cruciate ligament tears in dogs are a common knee injury. Pet parents are well-advised to look up this painful condition, learn about its causes, treatments, possible preventions, and the costs involved in getting the pet dog up again.
The ACL is also known as the cranial cruciate ligament and connects the bone above the knee with the bone below the knee. The ACL keeps the animal’s knee joint stable. The health of the animal’s knee cap and the knee ligaments are crucial for smooth mobility. Problems associated with the anterior cruciate ligament are the most reported orthopedic issue that vets have to deal with.

Age and obesity are the most common factors leading to ACL injuries in canines. Breed and injury sustained during an activity are other causes. Dog breeds most susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament tears include Labrador retrievers, poodles, bichon frises, German shepherds, and some other breeds as well.

Research has thrown up an interesting fact. Spayed and neutered dogs that are more than four years old are more likely to suffer from dog knee injuries as compared to whole animals. If symptoms of an ACL injury are not heeded then an inflamed joint can tear. Interestingly, till only a few years back vets believed that inflammation followed a tear but now they know that it is the other way round.

There are a couple of things that we can do to prevent dog knee injuries. Keeping them at a healthy weight by regulating their diet and giving them exercise is important.
Symptoms of an ACL injury in dogs are often a good indicator of the severity. A hint of lameness may imply a small injury that can be treated with rest and therapy. However, if the animal is in obvious pain and cannot take any weight on a particular leg which also appears to have swelling then the injury to the ligament may be more serious. If you see your dog limping or favoring one leg, schedule an appointment with the vet for an orthopedic checkup.

An ACL injury left untreated may sometimes heal on its own. This is more likely to happen with smaller lighter animals but at the same time it may lead to arthritis and painful bone spurs. Your pet dog may not be able to execute a complete range of motion.
Diagnosis is carried out with the help of radiographs, x-rays, visual observation, and by applying gentle pressure on the knee in order to check for the “drawer sign”, a situation in which the bones move in an incorrect manner.

Lighter dogs that weigh less than 30 pounds have a better chance of responding to non-surgical treatment and therapy. Anti-inflammatory medicines form an important part of the treatment plan. Heavier breeds often require surgery, in the absence of which the dog’s stifle joints will degenerate with time. There are different surgical procedures in use to correct bone alignment and if need be use another material in place of the ligament. It can take anywhere between a fortnight to a month before the dog can confidently place its body’s weight on the treated leg.

The earlier you take your pet pooch to the vet the better it is for the animal and for you because if diagnosed early, the cost of treatment is definitely lower. Surgeries can cost upward of $1000 and to this you have to add the cost of medicine, boarding, and rehab. Given that ACL injuries are a very common cause of expense for pet parents, it is important that you have a pet insurance policy in place that covers the cost of ACL in dogs.

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