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Thread: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

  1. #1
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    Dec 2008
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    Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Many recent posts have described dogs having serious knee injuries and the costs associated with surgery and recovery.

    It is well known today that breeding plays a large part in a dogs predisposition for knee injury. Hereditary structural anomalies in the hind legs will leave a dog more prone to these types of injuries.

    Reputable breeders will insure that mating pairs have no history of cruciate ligament injury in their lines in addition to the other health clearances before breeding.

    Another factor in preventing knee injury is to keep the dogs weight down. A few extra pounds on a dog can put enormous extra pressure on knee structure. There is no good reason to have a fat dog.

    Physical conditioning also plays a part in reducing risk. Think of the weekend fun league ball players that arrive at the game thinking they're the same person they were 20 years ago.

    Sometimes, despite good breeding, proper weight and conditioning a dog may get injured but the above are things we can do to insure these injuries are kept to a minimum.

    Some take always....

    1. When purchasing a dog (particularly a working dog) make sure it's from a reputable breeder and ask if all modern health clearances have been done including any history of cruciate ligament repair in both parents.

    2. Keep the dog at a reasonable weight.

    3. Keep the dog in good physical condition.
    "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donel fat"

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  3. #2
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Thanks Labguy.

    My brother in law has a German wire haired pointer. Good breeding, healthy young dog. She was injured in her first year and recently underwent a major surgery to her knee. "TPLO" I believe. Lots of money and lots of time and effort to properly rehab. She was nor what I consider overweight but they have really had to manage her weight better since. Not something I want to see my dog go through

  4. #3
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Thanks Labguy.

    My brother in law has a German wire haired pointer. Good breeding, healthy young dog. She was injured in her first year and recently underwent a major surgery to her knee. "TPLO" I believe. Lots of money and lots of time and effort to properly rehab. She was not what I consider overweight but they have really had to manage her weight better since. Not something I want to see my dog go through

  5. #4
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age usually grow significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those dogs spayed or neutered after puberty. The earlier the spay or neuter procedure, the taller the dog. Also, the removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs – both females and males – can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure, making them more susceptible to injuries. They can end up with irregular body proportions, cartilage issues, joint issues, hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament injuries - particularly large-breed dogs.

    So, I would add this as a 4th point to your sensible list...

    Personally, I am waiting for my pup to reach full maturity before neutering which may be about 30 months with this breed. And even then only if it becomes necessary. He does not mark in the house and is quick to stop on command, the rare time that he tries to hump. The hormones in an intact canine provide all kinds of other health benefits that influence longevity as well as natural protection against cancers many other ailments. However, it does take vigilant control of your dog at all times and intensive training to ensure they do not produce unwanted litters or exhibit inappropriate aggression.

  6. #5
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Thanks for the note. One thing I was guilty of in the past was letting my dog bail off the back of the truck after coming out of a kennel. I've heard that jumping UP isn't as harmful but jumping down can be, so to attempt to limit it.

    New pup brought home last week so have been doing a lot of reading lately, great post!

  7. #6
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by elch jager View Post
    Dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age usually grow significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those dogs spayed or neutered after puberty. The earlier the spay or neuter procedure, the taller the dog. Also, the removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs both females and males can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure, making them more susceptible to injuries. They can end up with irregular body proportions, cartilage issues, joint issues, hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament injuries - particularly large-breed dogs.

    So, I would add this as a 4th point to your sensible list...

    Personally, I am waiting for my pup to reach full maturity before neutering which may be about 30 months with this breed. And even then only if it becomes necessary. He does not mark in the house and is quick to stop on command, the rare time that he tries to hump. The hormones in an intact canine provide all kinds of other health benefits that influence longevity as well as natural protection against cancers many other ailments. However, it does take vigilant control of your dog at all times and intensive training to ensure they do not produce unwanted litters or exhibit inappropriate aggression.
    This is a great topic!

    I was going to mention this, as well. Research shows to wait at least 18 months for females and 2 years of age for males. I see real leggy dogs quite frequently and if we get to talking I'll asked them how old their dog was when they had it fixed to see if there is a correlation. Most of the time these aren't working dogs so there's probably not a whole lot of mishap.

    One other thing to note is once a dog has had a ligament injury and surgery on one leg chances are, due to over compensation, the other leg often ends up needing to be done, as well. Happens with us humans, as well.

    Of course this whole theory of waiting to spay/neuter your dog at full maturity isn't necessarily written in stone. Lots of working dog owners have done it at the veterinarian recommended age of six months (they're more about animal control) without any issues. Case in point, the brittany spaniel pup that I kept back in the eighties from the one and only litter my other brit had was spayed early. That dog logged thousands of miles through hunting and as a running partner for myself and my ex wife marathoner. Despite having a bone plate put in her leg at 5 months when the neighbour ran over her front leg she lived until she was 17 1/2 years with no other skeletal or soft tissue injuries. She was a crazy hard runner and could hunt all day. Her sister lived to be the same age.

    Just the same, I'm glad I waited to have my griff spayed at a later time. Luckily, I only had to endure going through one heat cycle when she was 14 months old.

  8. #7
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Interesting discussion and some good points made. Unfortunately the link between early spay/neuter and cruciate disease is not as straightforward as some here have stated. Male Labradors that were neutered at a young age showed a higher incidence of cruciate disease, but the same did not apply for females in the same study. The early spayed females did have a higher risk for hip dysplasia though. The question is whether the actual neutering itself causes the cruciate tears or is the result of the fact that spayed/neutered animals tend to be heavier than their intact counterparts. As others already stated weight is an important risk factor. We have not had studies yet that tried to separate this weight effect from the early neuter effect. The problem in veterinary medicine is that we do not have access to the financial resources that human doctors have. As a result many of the studies involve a relatively small number of patients. The smaller the number, the less accurate the results will be.
    Having done well over a thousand TPLO surgeries my personal observation is that genetics are the most important factor followed by weight and lack of regular exercise. Rottweilers and Labradors used to be the kings of cruciate disease, but Cane Corsos are taking over first place now. Couch potato dogs and weekend warriors get injured more often than fit and trim dogs getting 2 hours of exercise daily.
    I and many of my colleagues have changed our recommendations from sterilizing at +/- 6 months to after the first heat cycle or 12-14 months and caution owners to keep their pets fit and trim.

    For those wanting more information, the link below gives a great summary on the subject.

    https://todaysveterinarypractice.com...ior-neoplasia/

  9. #8
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron.C View Post
    Thanks Labguy.

    My brother in law has a German wire haired pointer. Good breeding, healthy young dog. She was injured in her first year and recently underwent a major surgery to her knee. "TPLO" I believe. Lots of money and lots of time and effort to properly rehab. She was nor what I consider overweight but they have really had to manage her weight better since. Not something I want to see my dog go through
    Just for clarification Ron, did your brother in law ask the breeder if there was any history of cruciate ligament injury in either parent?

    This is very important question to ask before purchasing a dog. Many "good breedings" have parents with a history of cruciate injury because the breeders either don't know or don't care that this trait is passed on to offspring.
    "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donel fat"

  10. #9
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    To be honest, I'm not sure if he did but I will ask him.

  11. #10
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    Re: Reducing the risk of knee injury in dogs

    Great info from LabGuy and 35rem.
    We've avoided any knee problems on our two Tollers, both very active dogs, by following most of the suggestions - exercise, weight down and such.
    Our old Girl who turns 16 later this year, wasn't spayed until after her first cycle ( the Breeder's requirement ) however she was hit by a car at about age 1 resulting in some trauma to her rear leg / hip area. The Vet cautioned us that arthritis was to be expected in later years and as we were getting her into agility it was suggested that she run Specials which allowed her to jump at one level down from her size. Our younger guy's parents were clear of any cruciate problems and to date we haven't heard of any of his offspring suffering any problems.

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