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D2007-10

Dear Daisy Dog

Ginger, our 7-year-old golden retriever who thinks she’s still a puppy, ran full tilt into the steps and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

Her veterinarian said she needs surgery, which is fairly expensive. Are there any other options?

Daisy Responds

Tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), also called the cranial cruciate ligament, is the most common knee problem we dogs develop.

Active large-breed dogs like Ginger are predisposed.

Surgery to repair the torn ligament is the treatment of choice to maintain function and minimize pain, both now and in the future.

After surgery, Ginger should have physical therapy, called physical rehabilitation in the dog world. This therapy will help restore her knee’s range of motion and ability to bear weight.

In addition, Ginger’s weight should remain on the slim side of the normal range to minimize stress on her knee.

If Ginger doesn’t have surgery, her left knee will thicken with arthritis as the body attempts to stabilize the joint. Her knee will hurt, and she probably will continue to walk with a limp.

To manage this discomfort, she will need pain medication, acupuncture and physical rehabilitation.

However, none of these treatments will help as much as immediate surgery to repair her torn ACL, followed by physical rehabilitation.

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