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Working Dog Breed Info
 

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Knee Surgery for Working Dog Breeds

  
 

How Common Is Knee Surgery?


Competing and working dogs damage their knees more often than any other joint. Surgeries to repair dog knees are so common that over a million dogs—at a cost of over 1.2 billion dollars—undergo knee surgery each year. Many of these dogs were engaged in working, herding or agility events.

Which dog breeds commonly have knee problems?
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Competing dogs
  • Agility dogs
  • Herding dogs

Some dog breeds are much more likely to need knee surgery than other breeds, perhaps because they have a genetic tendency to knee instability. Among these breeds are Newfoundlands, Labradors, and Rottweilers—all large dogs who may compound genetically unstable knees with the burden of being heavy.

Toy dogs also have knee problems, but frequently of a different type—toy dogs have knee caps (patellae) that slide out of place.

Any dog making quick turns/sudden stops, high jumps and repetitive movements, such as weave poles, is prone to knee injury. This includes most competing dogs, agility, herding, and working dogs.

  
In many cases, having knee surgery is not beneficial for dogs with knee problems
  
  • Knees are easy to damage
  • Newfoundlands, Labradors, and Rottweilers are predisposed to knee complications
  • Chondroprotectives may help prevent and treat knee damage
  •   
      

    Why Is the Knee Fragile? How Is it Repaired?


    It's very easy for a dog to damage their knees because knees are internally stabilized with 2 ligaments that cross and form an X. These ligaments are called the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL). Canine ACL repairs are so common that they are done 5 times more often in dogs than in humans, who are also prone to knee injuries. (Humans have the same unstable cruciate ligament inside their knees.) While ACL repairs are the most common knee surgery, other knee surgeries are done in dogs, including a surgery that changes the angle of the top of the tibia leg bone. This is called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO).

    If the Knee Isn't Repaired...


    Whether a dog has an ACL problem or a patella problem, if it is not treated, the dog will develop arthritis. Arthritis can limit the career of working, herding, and agility dogs.

    Alternatives to Surgery


    How can we help these dogs if we decide not to seek a surgical repair because surgery only has a 1:5 chance of causing improvement? Consider the following:

      

      
     
    Max's Tip: To help minimize knee problems, don't allow your dog to jump down off of furniture, beds, or onto a slippery floor  
      

      

    Preventing Knee Problems in Pets

    Using Chondroprotectives for Knees

    Chondroprotective (cartilage-protecting) supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin help keep knee joints healthy for several reasons. Chondroprotectives increase the moisture within cartilage so that the cartilage acts more like a mattress that provides cushioning as the bones come together. Chondroprotectives encourage the production of healthy joint fluid that lubricates and nourishes joint structures. Chondroprotectives stimulate cartilage production.

    Which Oral Chondroprotectives Are Good?

    Cosequin or Glyco-Flex are excellent chondroprotectives and can start to be given when dogs are young. Research shows that joint injury is less severe and return to function is faster if the dog or cat was on a chondroprotective medication when an injury occurs.

    If the joint is injured, switch to products with MSM, such as Super Joint Enhancer or Super Joint Enhancer Soft Chews. MSM works like an herbal aspirin to control pain, but MSM doesn't have any of the side effects of aspirin, such as stomach ulcers. Injured dogs can be supplemented with Yucca Intensive to help prevent abnormal inflammation—heat, pain and swelling. Injured dogs can also be prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain. Among the best are Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam, and Previcox. Although NSAIDs are effective at controlling pain, they have the potential to cause stomach ulcers, liver and kidney disease so they must be used with caution.

     
     
      
     
     
       
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