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Cruciate Injuries in Dogs

Just like people, dogs can damage the cruciate ligaments in their knees (stifles).  In fact, damage to the cruciate ligaments is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs in North America.   Risk factors associated with cruciate ligament injury include large breed dogs, obesity, vigorous activity and conformation (straight-legged dogs).

Symptoms of cruciate ligament injury vary depending on the severity of the injury.  For example, if a ligament is just partially damaged you may notice your pet is reluctant to exercise, favoring one leg on occasion, or may be sitting abnormally.  If the ligament is completely damaged your pet will usually refuse to use their hind leg completely, swelling may be noted around the damaged knee, and they will be painful on manipulation of that joint.

Diagnosis a cruciate injury is done by your veterinarian.  They may use a combination of physical exam, joint manipulation tests, and radiographs to help determine the extent of the injury.   Treatment options include several different surgical approaches and/or several weeks of extremely strict rest. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine which treatment options are best for your pet based on the extent of the injury, the size of your pet, your pets energy level and your pets age.  

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