Knee Problems in Dogs

The most common cause of lameness (mobility problem) in dogs involves the knee joint. Dogs knee are very similar to human knees and so we as veterinarians have learned a lot about how to diagnose and effectively treat this joint by working closely with human orthopaedic surgeons. The basis of diagnosis involves a thorough physical examination by an experienced veterinarian.

In dogs, the kneecap is called the patella and this can become loose and cause locking of the knee and pain. We call this condition medial patellar luxation (MPL). The problem typically affects both knees and starts early in life. There are four grades ranging from mild to severe. Your local veterinarian should be able to tell you what grade MPL your pup has. Corrective surgery involves realigning the muscle-tendon (quadriceps) mechanism with the central axis of the limb (bone axis). There is an art in consistently achieving success with this surgery. Specialist vets have extensive experience and higher success rates. You should ask your local vet how confident they are with the surgery.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Issues

Many larger dogs tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and develop a loose painful knee. If the problem is not addressed early, a cartilage inside the knee called the meniscus, may also tear causing more pain. 30% of dogs will tear the other ACL within two years of tearing the first one. Arthritis develops within the knee joint if surgery is not performed. Early surgery by an experienced veterinarian offers the best chance of your dog returning to normal levels of activity.

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