The subtleties of a cat’s knee
Excessive trauma to a weakened or degenerative ligament is the most frequent cause of an ACL rupture or tear. The knee can be injured in numerous activities: jumping to catch a ball or Frisbee and landing on the hind legs at an abnormal angle; running on uneven ground; or getting hit in the hind legs. Straight-legged dogs, such as rottweilers and Dobermans pinschers, are pre-disposed to ligament to stress and rupture. Large breeds and obese dogs also are more vulnerable to knee injuries. Once the ligament is torn, the knee joint becomes unstable and this can damage the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the two long leg bones. Therefore, ligament repair is recommended to prevent further damage to the joint area.The clinical signs of an ACL rupture are lameness of the hind legs. The obvious lameness, in which the dog will put little to no weight on the leg, lasts about 72 hours and then gradually improves over several weeks. After about six weeks, the joint degenerates and lameness returns and increases. Treatment depends on the size of the animal. In very small dogs and smaller cats, restricting exercise can help. All other pets need surgery, which is usually successful if the dogs are cared for after the operation. For the first month, bandages should be used to support the knee and exercise should be restricted. That should be followed by two months to three months of physical therapy, during which dogs should be walked on leashes. Weight loss is important in obese dogs to minimize joint damage, and glucosamine is given as a supplement to any animal or human undergoing joint surgery.Vail, Colorado
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