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Keep Your Dog's Knees Safe and Healthy

- Provided by VetStreet.com
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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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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.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

See all VCA Animal Hospitals >

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Emergency Care

FOR AFTER HOURS EMERGENCIES, IMMEDIATELY CONTACT:  

Animal Emergency Center of North Fulton

900 Mansell Rd., Suite 19

Roswell, GA  30076

770-594-2266

During an emergency, remember to:

  1. Remain calm.  You are doing the best for your pet by taking steps to help.
  2. Call us!  If we are unavailable, call the emergency facility listed above. 
  3. Tell us the nature of the problem.  We will give you instructions on how to handle your pet while in route to our hospital.
  4. Be careful.  When injured and scared, even a loving pet may bite.                                                                                            
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