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Believe it or not, your dog injuring one or multiple legs, especially tearing or rupturing its cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), is about as common as accidentally biting one’s tongue.
And although as painful as biting one’s tongue, CCL injuries sustained by dogs are severely painful, affecting knee stability and can likely lead to osteoarthritis development when not treated and rehabbed property.
There are a number of surgical and non-surgical options and elective treatment to get your dog back to full painless mobility.
Although it can be quite expensive, the most popular and effective treatment for repairing dog knee injuries is TPLO surgery, also known as tibial plateau leveling osteotomy.
If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of the TPLO surgery, this procedure modifies the orientation of the tibial bone to the femur replacing the ruptured or torn ligament with surgical plates and screws.
TPLO is one the most common surgeries a dog will undergo because of its high success rate and relatively low recovery time.
However, as with any medical matter, you will want to consult your veterinarian about your dog’s eligibility and overall health — age, size, weight, diet, etc — before electing TPLO surgery.
While many may be lead to believe that TPLO surgery is the only option available to restore optimal joint and ligament health for their dog’s knees, other alternatives exist that offer the regaining of stability in the knee through implants, bone cuts, or non-invasive options simply to manage pain and inflammation.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
TTA is a TPLO alternative where a linear cut is made at the front of the tibial bone and moves the “tibial tuberosity” forward.
Much like TPLO, plates and screws stabilize the dog’s knee in the absence of an ACL. While an alternative, it has its own risks and benefits similar to TPLO surgery to consider.
If you’re in search of an option that doesn’t involve cutting of the tibial bone, then the most popular technique is that of stabilizing the extracapsular suture — placing a suture on the outside joint of your dog’s knee.
Less expensive than TPLO or TTA surgeries, extra-articular sutures do involve risks and complications, the most common of which are suture failure and development of arthritis — depending upon the breed of dog, size, age, and dog’s mobility and overall health.
Dog knee implants are yet another formidable alternative that use the tightrope technique — strong fiber implant around the knee joint due to bone tunnels drilled through the femur and tibia.
A less invasive procedure, the tightrope technique offers acute precision and greater suture resistance, and often quicker recovery than other surgical solutions for dogs.
While very cost friendly, one thing to note about this procedure is that it may not be the right option for a highly active dog, or if your dog has limb deformities and difficulties.
If your dog has an ailment or illness that prohibits it from undergoing invasive surgeries, then you may want to seek non-surgical treatment using the combination of the following:
- Pain medication
- Ligament and joint supplements
- Activity reduction
- Physical rehabilitation
- Occasional support braces, slings, and harnesses
While none of the aforementioned non-surgical alternatives completely remedy a sustained dog knee injury, each offers a certain degree of comfort.
Situations and circumstances may never be ideal when in regards to your dog sustaining a knee injury of any level of severity.
However, I recommend consulting with your primary veterinarian as well as receiving secondary opinions for how to best eliminate your dog’s pain and discomfort while offering the shortest and feasible path back to optimal recovery and living.