To understand knee problems in dogs it’s first important to have a good understanding of dog leg anatomy. Technically, the dog knee is on the rear legs.
The knee is also called the stifle joint, which connects the tibia and fibula with the patella, the dog version of a knee cap.
Learn more about Dog Leg Anatomy.
Dogs of all sizes and ages experience knee problems in their lifetimes, and knee problems are the most common of all dog injuries and leg related health conditions. Some dog breeds are predisposed to genetic or hereditary knee problems, so be sure to consult with a trained veterinarian.
The three most common dog knee problems include:
A luxating patella means is essentially the dog equivalent of a dislocated knee cap. This is a very common orthopedic condition for smaller dog breeds, but large dog breeds can also be affected.
Learn more about Luxating Patella.
Arthritis is a stiffness in the joint. Just like people, dogs can suffer from arthritis. Older dogs and larger dogs are especially at risk. Osteoarthritis, a dog arthritis condition also referred to as Degenerative Joint Disease, is a progressively worsening inflammation of the joint caused by the deterioration of cartilage. Arthritis will also occur at the site of any knee surgery as the dog ages and at the site of a torn ACL that hasn’t been treated by surgery.
The cruciate care ligament (CCL) is the dog version of an ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, in humans. ACL tears are common injuries for athletes like basketball players. Dogs are naturally athletic, and CCL tears are one of the most common injuries.
Learn more about CCL/ACL Tears.
Symptoms: How to Tell if Your Dog is Experiencing Knee Problems
Just ask your dog!
Don’t we wish.
We have all faced the challenge of trying to tell if our pup is in pain and wanted more than anything for a bark or whimper translator. Of course, that could also have its downfalls if all you get is: Squirrel! Park! Treat!
Fortunately, there are telltale signs and symptoms of dog knee problems including:
- Intermittent limping
- Sudden intermittent loss of support in the rear legs
- Sitting in an abnormal position
- Not bearing weight on a hind leg
- Trouble rising from a sitting position or lying position
- Suddenly less active
- Constant licking
- Swelling or thickening of the knee
While some dog knee problems are minor and will heal naturally, watch your pup carefully if he or she exhibits any of the above symptoms. If they last, seek the guidance of a veterinarian to diagnose the problem and discuss treatment options.
Dog Knee Problem Treatments
Treatment for your dog’s knee problem is dependent upon several factors including the diagnosed condition and factors like age, weight, and overall health. Your vet can walk you through treatment options.
At Ortho Dog, we support many common dog knee problems with flexible orthopedic braces that stabilize your dog’s knee and allow for healing. Ask your vet if a dog brace is the right solution for your pup.
Learn more about Ortho Dog Braces.
We recently spoke with holistic veterinarian Dr. Laurel Davis of Sunvet Animal Wellness. She often recommends noninvasive treatment modalities like cold laser therapy and acupuncture, as well as supplements that can improve overall joint health.
Learn more about a holistic approach to healing dog knee and leg problems.
More severe dog knee problems may require surgery, but be sure to discuss all options with your vet, so you can get your pup back up to speed.