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Keep Your Dog's Knees Safe and Healthy

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In dogs, as in people, knees are often asked to do things they really weren’t meant to do. And in dogs, as in people, that means they get injured pretty often — and for many of the same reasons. Although they can seem fragile to anyone who has ever hurt one, knees are amazing joints. The ligaments that hold the bones in place do their best to allow a wide range of movement without pushing the joint in ways it wasn’t meant to go.

Knees weren’t expected to handle the running, leaping, twisting and very hard landings of elite human athletes in sports such as football. In the dog world, such sports as canine flying-disk acrobatics can likewise push an athlete's knees to the limits. Proper conditioning and proper warmups can minimize injuries, but they will never prevent them in these high-performing types.

But just as you’re unlikely to be an NFL wide receiver, your dog is unlikely to be an agility star. Which brings me to the more common sufferers of knee injuries in dogs (and people): The overweight/obese and the weekend warriors — and yes, those categories often overlap.

Sudden Lameness May Be a Knee Injury

In young, active dogs, a knee injury typically begins with a yelp and a dog who doesn’t want to put weight on a back leg. These injuries are what we call “acute” — they happen in a flash, and the dog is in so much pain that most owners get to a veterinarian right away.

The diagnosis is pretty easy to make: The upper and lower parts of a dog’s leg aren’t supposed to move where they meet at the knee. When a ligament ruptures, the lower leg can be moved forward in what is generally described as “a drawer sign.”

While general-care veterinarians can do joint-repair surgeries, it’s not uncommon for these cases to be referred to board-certified surgeons. There are a couple of different ways for a surgeon to repair the joint, some of which have been clinically shown to be more effective than others. Ask for a thorough explanation of all your choices and the probable outcomes for your particular pet before making a decision for your dog.

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General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.

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