How to Prevent Knee Injuries in Dogs

Over the course of our lifetime, our knees take a lot of strain. From supporting our weight to helping us bend and use our legs, the joint is perpetually in use. The same can be said for the knees of our canine companions, and in fact, their position on their feet, ankles in the air and knees forward, means that they naturally place even greater stress on their knee joints than we can possible imagine. Factor in the running, walking, jumping, crouching, climbing an playing they do and it is easy to see why knee injuries in dogs are really quite common.

Signs that your dog has a knee injury

Your dog has limited capability to communicate with you, and so he relies on you to be observant and notice the symptoms of his condition. Typically, these could include:

- Refusing to weight on the affected limb

- Holding himself in an unusual way

- Difficulty getting up from a laying position

- An awkward gait

- Whimpering or crying

Types of dog knee injuries

There are a range of different ways in which your dog might injure his knee. One of the most common takes the form of a sprain or strain. While sprains harm the ligaments that connect the bones, strains injure the tendons that link his muscles and bones. Both are equally as likely to occur and both are normally the result of a slip or a hard landing.

CLL Injury

One of the most serious injuries that a dog can have to the knee is a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). It is also one of the most common orthopedic reasons that dogs are taken to veterinarians. The CCL is the ligament that connects the bones of the knee and is equivalent to the anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) in humans.

In the majority of cases, CCL injuries are a result of degeneration of the joint. Although the exact cause of this is not known, it is believed that genetic predisposition is the largest contributory factor. Particular breeds that are commonly affected include Boxers, Labradors and Rottweilers). When excess strain is placed on the degenerated joint it causes pain, swelling and restricts the ability of the dog to move it.

Preventing knee injuries in dogs

Although there is no guarantee to be able to prevent knee injuries in dogs, there are some things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of them occurring.

Weight management

One of the biggest contributing factors to joint problems in dogs and humans alike is excess weight. The greater amount of weight the dog carries, the greater the stress placed on to the joints. This causes quicker degeneration and makes injury more likely.

To help ensure that your dog is the right weight, make sure that you aren’t over feeding him. Geneva Veterinary Clinic's veterinarian will be able to make a recommendation as to the right amount of food for your dog based on his breed and age. You should also ensure that your dog gets enough exercise, as this will help to keep his weight under control.

Give a joint supplement

Even though you are feeding your dog a healthy, balanced diet, you could consider giving a joint supplement. There are many different types on the market, but look for one that contains MSM, chondroitin and glucosamine, as this combination of ingredients is particularly good for joint health. However, before starting any new supplement you should consult with our veterinarian.

Discourage jumping

Jumping places a great deal of strain on your dog’s knees. By training your dog not to jump up either at you or on furniture, you can reduce the amount of pressure placed on to his knees, slowing degeneration of the joint and reducing the likelihood of injury or pain.

If you are concerned about the health of your dog’s knees, contact and schedule an appointment with Geneva Veterinary Clinic. Our vet will be able to perform a thorough examination of his joints and give you further advice.