And right now, there are many hands being held up as they read Channel magazine because dog cruciate injuries are hands down the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. In fact, it has been reported that 85% of all orthopedic injuries in dogs are some form of cruciate ligament injury.
According to research, no one particular gender, breed or age dog is at more risk. That said, the most commonly reported dogs are young, active, large-breed dogs, such as Mastiffs, Labradors, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds to name a few, but small dogs can also sustain cruciate injuries as well.
The vast majority of injuries in dogs are a result of a ‘hyper-extension of the knee joint’. Some of the more common scenarios reported from dog owners revolve around the dog chasing a ball in the backyard or playing hard with a friend.
Key contributing factors are:
Lack of daily exercise (fitness)
The structure of the knee, always bent so constant tension
Binge high-speed exercise (weekend warrior syndrome)
And if your dog has required surgery on one knee, it is likely that the other knee will need surgery too. Since your dog has injured one hind leg, they are having to compensate on their three other ‘good’ legs. This compensation puts the other legs, back and joints at greater risk of injury. It is estimated that 30-50% of dogs who tear one CRUCIATE will tear the other CRUCIATE within a few years.
Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to prevent cruciate injuries in dogs. The best you can do is to keep your dog in ideal body condition, exercise them regularly, give them high quality joint supplements that are balanced and optimized for ideal joint health and avoid excessive high jumping.
What are the signs?
Pet owners often report hearing their dog ‘yelp’ in pain and then start limping after their dog injures the Cruciate. But in many cases the pet owner never hears any cry and all of sudden notices their dog limping or not putting any weight on the hind leg.
If your dog is not putting any weight on the hind leg and is holding it up, then there is a very good chance they may have a FULL tear of their cruciate. On the other hand if your dog is just slightly limping or using the leg but not putting full weight on it, then there is a good chance they may have a PARTIAL tear of their cruciate.
Only your vet will be able to fully diagnose the problem.
If you are already facing your first cruciate injury, your next thought must be on your rehabilitation programme. It will take careful management to get your dog back to normal physical ability post-surgery. One of the best tools to assist you in rehabilitation is a swimming service. Get online to see if you have one in your area. In Auckland, Water Woofs in Henderson are well versed in assisting post-surgery dogs get back to strength safely.