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A Quick Guide to Understanding Dog Knee Issues

Derrick Campana

It's easy to think of your dog like just another member of the family. He sleeps with you, he goes to the beach with you, he loves giving kisses, and he even likes to snuggle and watch TV just like you do. There's another thing he has in common with you and the rest of his people family… he has knees that are susceptible to injuries! 

Your dog could suffer from a knee injury for four main reasons, these are:

  1. Breed/genetics
  2. Injury during play
  3. Aging
  4. Weight

All of this probably sounds pretty familiar to you. A dog isn't exactly like you, of course. While he does have knees, that's where the anatomical similarities end. The most common knee injury any dog can get is a tear or sprain to their cranial cruciate ligament, which is abbreviated to CCL. If you watch sports, especially football, you've no doubt heard of an ACL. The CCL is the canine version of the ACL. A cruciate ligament rupture is usually extremely painful and the knee joint becomes unstable, resulting in lameness. 

Imagine this, your dog is running around in the backyard, chasing his favorite tennis ball. During all this ruckus and play time, your dog twists his knee too quickly while changing direction to run after the ball. He is placing a majority of his body weight on his knees, and that's a recipe for disaster. A torn CCL isn't always the result of too-good a time outside. Just like you and I, as dogs age they are more likely to injure themselves doing everyday, normal activities. As well, dogs who are considered obese are more likely to suffer a tear or sprain as well. There are also certain breeds that are extra susceptible to abnormalities that make injuries more likely. The larger the breed is, the more likely they are to develop knee problems. St. Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands are at an especially high risk. Rottweilers are up to five times more likely to experience issues with their CCL than other breeds! 

A CCL injury isn't the only knee problem to be aware of. You should also be on the lookout for what is known as "slip knee," or Patella Luxation. This is actually more common in smaller dogs. This dislocated knee cap can cause cartilage damage, inflammation, pain, and even ligament tears. Oftentimes, the patella will slip out and then back in. Other times, your dog needs to wear a knee brace to hold the kneecap in place.

This brings us to the next thing you know about dog knee injuries… there is something simple you can do to ease their pain! A custom knee brace can do wonders for many differ types of knee injuries, including the two listed here. You don't want your dog to suffer from chronic knee pain, and a knee brace made just for him is the ideal way to alleviate it.