Tag Archives: lameness

Cruciate ligament injury

Cruciate ligament injury in the knee or stifle joint causes acute lameness in the dog.

The stifle joint opens and closes like a hinge. The cruciate ligament prevents the two bones of the hinge from sliding back and forth.

The ligament and joint deteriorate with age. A sudden stop or twist tears the weakened ligament. The dog cries and cannot bear weight. Some dogs remain unable to put the leg down, others improve to varying degrees.


The vet diagnoses rupture of the cruciate ligament by demonstrating instability or a drawer sign of the stifle joint.  If the joint is very painful or the dog has strong leg muscles then a sedative or anaesthetic might be necessary to examine the joint thoroughly.


Most dogs require surgery to relieve the pain and prevent future arthritis.  Inspection of the joint for cartilage damage, removal of the torn ligament and stabilisation of the joint with figure 8 sutures improves joint stability, reduces the development of arthritis and eliminates pain in small to medium sized dogs.

Restriction of activity for 3 months together with anti-inflammatory drugs may be adequate for smaller and lighter dogs. If the lameness does not improve significantly then the cartilage is probably damaged as well and surgery is necessary.

Referral to a specialist surgeon for a more complicated procedure is best for bigger or more active dogs.


Full recovery from cruciate ligament surgery takes at least 3 months and the repaired knee will never be as good as new.

Recovery time is longer and the chance of rupture of the cruciate ligament in the other leg is increased in overweight dogs.  Please discuss about strategies for weight reduction with your vet or vet nurse.

Arthritis in Dogs

What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints. Older and overweight dogs risk developing arthritis, but larger breeds of dogs often develop arthritis at younger ages.

Long-term wear and tear of the joints, trauma, or joint abnormalities such as hip or elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament disease cause arthritis. Infectious and immune mediated arthritis are much less common.

Arthritis erodes the cartilage of the joint, reduces and thins joint fluid, and causes bony tissue to grow around the joint.

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

Watch out for:

  • reluctance to walk, lagging behind or giving up half-way home
  • reluctance to climb stairs, jump or play
  • lameness or hobbling
  • stiffness
  • difficulty rising from a resting position
  • licking joints

What can I do to help my pet?

Ramps make stairs or the climb into the car less challenging.

Warmth eases stiff joints. Keep arthritic pets inside in colder weather, and provide your dog with a warm coat, a well-insulated kennel and well-padded bed with a heat pad.

Keep and eye on your dog’s weight. Extra kilograms put unnecessary strain on joints. Talk to us about the best weight reduction plan if your dog is overweight.

Moderate exercise is important to the physical and mental health of all pets.  Too much exercise strains the joints but too little results in muscle wastage and more pressure on the joints. Gentle walks or swimming are ideal.


Arthritis has no cure, but we can improve your pet’s comfort and slow further joint deterioration. Treatment must be tailored to the individual and we often combine a number of treatment options.

Pentosan or cartrophen injections protect and repair joint cartilage, and stimulate the production of joint fluid.

Glucosamine and chondroitin formulated and tested for animals provide the raw materials for cartilage production as well as providing an anti-inflammatory action.

Pain medication known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide strong pain relief and give many arthritic pets a new lease of life. Your vet will prescribe the best one for your dog and discuss administration and possible side-effects. Never try your own arthritis drugs on your pet as some cause irreversible damage to pets’ kidneys and livers.

Some pets respond very well to acupuncture treatments.

Most owners report that their pets have a new lease of life on their individually-tailored arthritis treatment. They enjoy their walks and activity, want to play more and are happier members of the family. Talk to your vet about the best treatment plan to suit your pet.