Vail Valley Animal Hospital Center and Mountain Mobile Vet discuss Winter Injuries in your pets
Here at the Mountain Mobile Veterinary Services and Animal Hospital Center, your 24 hour on call veterinarian in the Vail valley, We see many injuries in the winter in your pets. Read below!
I am loving this cold weather and snow! Who out there has gotten some turns in already? Hopefully getting on the mountain this year doesn’t result in any of you hurting yourselves…have you ever had to have knee surgery or physical therapy to treat an injury? Dogs may require the same thing from time to time! Knowing what your dog is at risk for and knowing what to do if something happens is very important…let’s go over some of the more common injuries!
A dog has a ligament in their knee similar to a human’s ACL – it’s called the cranial cruciate ligament or CCL. CCL rupture is one of the most common causes of hind limb lameness in dogs. If a rupture is left untreated, it can lead to quickly progressing osteoarthritis in the knee. CCL rupture can happen in any dog although it is more common in large breed dogs. It can be an acute tear due to injury but can also be slowly brought on due to degeneration of the ligament. If you find your dog lame on a rear leg, it is important for them to be evaluated by a veterinarian. They can determine what the problem is and make recommendations for treatment. The most common treatment recommendation for a dog with a ruptured CCL is surgery and your veterinarian can discuss with you which surgery is best. It is less common that management without surgery is recommended due to the significant osteoarthritis that will form in the joint, making your dog chronically lame.
Now let’s talk about small breed dogs! One of the more common abnormalities in a small breed dog also involves the knee and it’s when their kneecap doesn’t stay in place, instead dislocating to the inside of the joint. We call this a patellar luxation. Most commonly, the kneecap will move to the inside of the leg (much less commonly to the outside of the leg). This can cause pain and discomfort in a dog and sometimes, surgical correction is recommended. How does this happen? Well, it can be due to trauma but is most commonly due to a genetic abnormality (meaning they were born that way). It is important to talk to your veterinarian if your dog has this abnormality – sometimes medical management will be recommended and other times, they may recommend surgical intervention.
Does anyone have lawn edging outside their home? This can be the bane of many dog’s existence! It is unfortunately common that a dog can lacerate a tendon when out and about playing or running around – even when there is snow on the ground! Lawn edging is a common culprit although any sharp surface can cause a laceration. Not only can a dog get a laceration of the skin but there is risk that the underlying tendons can get transected (cut in half) as well. If you suspect that a laceration and/or injury may also involve a tendon injury, it is important that your pet see a veterinarian immediately. If treated properly and in a timely manner, the success rate of proper healing is much higher than if you wait to have your animal seen.
Common tendon injuries include the gastrocnemius and superficial digital flexor tendon, both of which make up what we know as the Achilles tendon. The flexor tendons in the front leg are also prone to injury. Recovery from these injuries can be several months but in a dog this is what gives the animal the best chance of gaining function back in that leg.
It is important to remember that you should have your pet seen at the vet for any limping, hopping, skipping or abnormality in their gait. We will always do our best to make the right diagnosis and present you with the best treatment option to get your pet back to their normal self as soon as possible. Now get out there with your dogs (and cats?) and enjoy the snow!