When good joints go bad… joint surgery isn’t for humans alone. It can help our furry companions too! The summer before my senior year in high school, I began looking for a cute, little lap dog to sit with me on the couch while I recovered from extensive knee surgery. Then my parents surprised me with my dog, Thor! Thor is a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who just happens to have knees that dislocate, just like mine do.
When she was a puppy, Thor never really ran unless she had to. If she did run, she yelped a lot. We could never understand her yelping, or why she sat funny—until our vet figured out the problem. Thor’s knee caps dislocate, and her right knee cap is now permanently out of place. When we asked our wonderful vet what the solution was, he answered…dog knee surgery!
The two most common conditions that veterinary surgeons see in dogs are cruciate and meniscal ligament injuries. Both of these conditions are when the knee cap has been damaged, most likely from when the dog has abruptly stopped or turned on its leg (think of chasing squirrels).
Some vets and veterinary teaching hospitals are now using arthroscopic knee surgery to fix dog’s knees. What is arthroscopic knee surgery, you may ask? It’s a surgery that uses tiny incisions and small tools to diagnose and repair damage to joints such as knees and shoulders. Surgeons first make several small incisions around the joint. Then the doctor inserts a tiny camera to view the area, then repairs it with tiny scalpels and other tools. Because the tools and incisions are so small, recovery time is quicker.
Arthroscopic surgery can treat the same problem in your pet and yourself! I had the same procedure done on my leg that Thor needs done on hers. If you are worried about your pet’s knees, talk to your veterinarian to learn all your options.
Did you dog ever need knee surgery? Tell us about it in the comments!