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Q. Orthopedic treatment for ligament injury in hind leg on my dog

Answered By
DEBI MATLACK

A. Your information isn't quite specific enough for me to offer much helpful information. The most common ligament injury in dogs in the hind limb is a ruptured cruciate ligament in the stifle (equivalent to our knee). If left untreated, the lameness caused by a partially torn or ruptured CCL will improve or go away completely in many dogs, especially small ones, within three to six weeks. Regardless, the lack of a healthy CCL will cause the bones to rub against one another, leading to the development of bone spurs, pain, arthritis, and a decreased range of motion. These problems are more likely to occur in medium-sized to large dogs.

Conservative, non-surgical treatment for CCL injuries is typically only used for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds. This includes rest and anti-inflammatory medications for six weeks to two months, followed by a gentle program of exercise and, if obesity is present, weight loss. Without surgery, the knee joint will be subject to degenerative changes.

CCL surgery for dogs includes a number of different techniques that aim to provide stability to the joint. Depending on the procedure used, it may take two to three weeks before your dog is able to bear weight on the injured leg, and, in all cases, exercise is usually restricted for at least eight weeks to allow for adequate healing. It can be very difficult to keep your dog quiet during the rehabilitation period, so you may find it necessary to keep your dog in a crate when you are not available to supervise his activity.

There are many factors that will determine which treatment and/or procedure will be best for your dog. Consulting with a veterinary orthopedic surgeon will ensure your dog gets the best care possible.


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