If your dog is suffering from a severe knee injury your Northwest Austin Veterinary Center vet may recommend surgery to repair the damage and get your dog up and running again. Here are 3 surgery options for treating a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL/ACL) which is a common knee injury in dogs.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

An important part of keeping your healthy and pain-free is to take care of your dog's knees. 

There are a number of high-quality supplements and dog foods that your vet can suggest to help keep your dog's joints in good condition, cruciate injuries (or ACL injuries as they are sometimes called) do happen and can cause your dog a great deal of discomfort.

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

A dog's cranial cruciate ligament is one of two ligaments in your dog's leg that connect the shin bone to the thigh bone and allows the knee to function. Thos may also be referred to as a dog's CCL, ACL or cruciate.

Knee pain and injury stemming from a torn cruciate can come on suddenly during exercise, but is equally likely to gradually develop over a period of time. If your dog has an injured cruciate and continues to run, jump and play then they are more likely to damage there knees further and make the injury more severe. 

Tibial Thrust

When your dog has a torn cruciate pain arises from the knee's instability and a motion called 'tibial thrust'.

Tibial thrust is a sliding motion caused by the transmission of weight up the dog's shin bone and across the knee, causing the shinbone to “thrust” forward in relation to the dog's thigh bone. This forward thrust movement occurs because the top of the tibia is sloped, and the dog's injured cruciate is unable to prevent the unwanted movement from occurring.

Signs & Symptoms of Knee Injuries in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from knee pain due to an injured knee they will not be able to run or walk normally and will often display symptoms such as:

  • Difficulties getting up off of the floor
  • Limping in their hind legs
  • Stiffness following exercise

Surgery Options for Treating Knee Injuries in Dogs

These knee injuries normally do not heal by themselves. If your dog is presents with the symptoms that suggest a torn cruciate it's imperative to see a vet to have the issue properly diagnosed so that treatment can begin before symptoms become worse.

If your dog has a torn cruciate your vet is likely to recommend one of three different knee surgeries to help your dog regain normal mobility.

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

For dog's that weigh less than 50 pounds, this surgical treatment is often used and works by preventing the tibial thrust with a surgically placed suture. The suture stabilizes the dog's knee by pulling the joint tight and preventing the front-to-back sliding of the tibia so that the cruciate has time to heal, and the muscles surrounding the knee have an opportunity to regain their strength. ELSS surgery is a relatively quick and uncomplicated with a good success rate in small to medium sized dogs.

TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

TPLO is more complicated than ELSS surgery and aims to reduce tibial thrust without relying on the dog's cruciate. This surgery involves making a complete cut through the top of the tibia (tibial plateau), then rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. Finally a metal plate is added to stabilize the cut bone as it heals. Over the course of several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal and strengthen.

TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA is similar to TPLO but can be a slightly less invasive treatment. This knee surgery involves surgically separating the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone, then adding a spacer between the two sections to move the front section up and forward. This helps the knee to prevent much of the tibia thrust movement from occurring. A bone plate will be attached to hold the front section of the tibia in its correct position until the bone has had sufficient time to heal. Dogs with a steep tibial plateau (angle of the top section of the tibia) are excellent candidates for TTA surgery.

Which knee surgery is recommend for my dog?

This is a question that will require a trained vet to examine your dog and asses the nature of the injury as well as the age, weight, size and lifestyle. Afterwards they can make a recommendation for the best course of treatment.

How long will it take for my dog to recover from surgery?

Healing from a knee surgery is a not a quick process. While many dogs are able to walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and a return to normal activities will take 12 - 16 weeks or more. our vet should give you post-operative instructions that will help your dog to return to normal activities as soon as safely possible, while reducing the risk of re-injury.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet

To find out more about knee surgery options to treat your dog's injury, contact Northwest Austin Veterinary Center  today, to book a consultation with one of our vets.