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Knowing When Your Pet Needs Orthopedic Surgery

Knowing When Your Pet Needs Orthopedic Surgery

Knowing When Your Pet Needs Orthopedic Surgery


Knowing When Your Pet Needs Orthopedic Surgery


Did you know that animals are just as likely to be affected by orthopedic problems as people are? Orthopedic problems are issues that affect the musculoskeletal system, and specifically the bones, joints, and muscles within that system. Issues can arise for many reasons, from your pet suffering an injury to being affected by a chronic medical problem that their genetics mean that they are predisposed to experiencing. For example, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Chihuahuas, and German Shepherds are all breeds well known for orthopedic issues. 


While medications and other non-invasive treatments can be used to help you manage your pet’s condition so that they remain comfortable and suffer from minimal symptoms, there are some situations where only surgery can provide the solution that an animal needs to enjoy a long, active and happy life. 


So, how do you know when your pet needs orthopedic surgery? There are several particularly common orthopedic conditions affecting animals which can result in surgery. 


Hip Dysplasia


Hip dysplasia is the most common degenerative hip problem in pets and is most often seen in large breeds of dog. Combined with daily wear and tear, hip dysplasia can mean that eventually, your pet may need a surgical replacement of the joint so that they can move around without pain and maintain a good quality of life. 


Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia


Your pet may have hip dysplasia if they:

  • have problems with running or jumping

  • find it difficult to go up or downstairs

  • have a swaying gait

  • have a leg that looks shorter than the others

  • has a space between their legs that looks unusually wide

  • are experiencing lameness in their hind

  • seem stiff and have a limited range of motion 


If your pet has any of these symptoms, it is important that you arrange for them to attend an orthopedic assessment.


Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear


Better known as an ACL tear, this injury affects the anterior cruciate ligament which is found in your pet’s knee. These injuries most often occur as a result of being chronically overweight or planting the hind limbs while their body momentum continues to propel them forward. Inactivity with short bursts of strenuous exercise makes ACL injuries more likely, and certain breeds including Retrievers, Germans Shepherds, and Newfoundlands are especially prone to developing problems that mean that they may need the joint replaced.


Symptoms of an ACL tear


Your pet may have an ACL tear if they:

  • are sitting abnormally

  • seem as though their back legs are stiff

  • have a thickness or swelling around their knee joint

  • they are licking, biting or chewing their knee joint

  • they are in obvious pain

  • you can hear clicking when they move their knee

  • they suddenly become lame, particularly during an activity


If you believe that your pet may have suffered an ACL tear, it is important that you schedule an appointment to have them assessed by your vet as soon as possible. 


Patellar Luxation


This condition refers to the dislocation of the knee joint and is most often seen in toy and miniature dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians. It can also affect cats. A dislocation occurs when the kneecap slides out of the groove at the end of the thighbone. While some patellar luxations can be managed without surgery, many pets do benefit from orthopedic surgery to realign the joint or replace the groove with an artificial alternative.


Symptoms of Patellar Luxation


Your pet may have a dislocated knee joint if they:

  • hold up the affected hind leg when walking

  • show obvious signs of pain affecting their knee

  • licking, biting and chewing their knee

  • limping 

  • unwillingness to walk on the affected leg


Like other orthopedic problems, patellar luxation can be painful and have a significant impact on your pet’s quality of life, so getting prompt veterinary assistance is recommended. 



If you’d like to know more about orthopedic surgery and conditions that could cause your pet to need this type of treatment, please contact our veterinary center in Evansville, IN.