No one wants to face the situation of having their beloved dog in a position of needing ACL surgery, so ultimately prevention is the best medicine. What are some of the considerations every owner needs to know to prevent ACL injuries?
Cranial Cruciate Ligament injuries in dogs (the human counterpart is ACL injuries), may set your pet up for massive surgery and potentially a life riddled with painful recurrent sprains, tears, and strains to the knee joint. By ensuring and maintaining daily lifestyle protocol in most cases may prevent a full rupture to the knee joint of your dog:
- Maintain a healthy weight for your dog’s size and bone structure
- Daily exercise
- Nutrition (calcium and magnesium rich diet)
- Avoid intense bouts of exercise without appropriate preparation (AKA the ‘weekend warrior syndrome’)
- A healthy spine can often prevent joint injuries
Maintain A Healthy Weight For Your Dog
Knee injuries in dogs are much more common in animals that are carrying too much weight for their bone structure and size. Consider the breed and stature of your dog and ensure that their weight falls into a healthy category. Most veterinary clinics will offer charts for your dog’s breed and size.
It can be tempting to slip lots of yummy treats to your dog, but this may push them over the threshold of a healthy weight. Additionally, your dog needs daily exercise. Be conscious of how much food intake is occurring and of what kind.
Larger dogs need longer walks and areas where they can safely run around. Smaller dogs also need regular exercise and a simple half mile walk every day can be enough. As the owner it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog maintains a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent knee injuries.
The primary components to a healthy lifestyle include nutrition, exercise, and rest.
Nutrition: Not All Dog Food Is Created Equal
There are many varying opinions when it comes to what a dog should eat, how much, and of what kind. In fact, lots of books have been written on the subject. Furthermore, different companies push their dog food product through advertisements that suggest their food is the only healthy food.
There are those who believe that each owner ought to be cooking specialty food at home for their pet, but ultimately, you should follow the advice of your veterinarian and generally avoid the cheap dog food at supermarkets.
In order to ensure healthy joints a nutrient rich diet full of minerals and vitamins is essential. Dogs will generally eat any yummy food that falls from the table, so monitor the actual daily intake of your pet and their weight.
The issue of what a dog should eat, is a conversation too broad for this particular article; however, both quality and quantity matter. If you are unsure of what your dog should eat, how much, or even how frequently, then be sure to check in with your veterinarian in order to maintain a healthy daily caloric intake of quality nutrition.
Regular and Consistent Exercise Is Key In Prevented ACL Injuries In Dogs
It is important that your dog has daily access to exercise that is appropriate for its breed and size. Maintaining regular mobility of the knee joint is critical for dogs, gentle walks and playing in dog parks or on the beach is excellent.
In addition to daily walks it is important to avoid the ‘weekend warrior syndrome’, which simply means that many dogs may wander out to potty a few times a day, and then every once in a while has access to vigorous exercise without adequate preparation. This situation is a perfect recipe for a knee injury.
If you have a large dog, be sure to offer plenty of exercise regularly that includes running and jumping. They will be well equipped for special occasions in the country or at dog parks when they have more space to move and roam freely.
Prevention Of Dog Knee Injuries Is Not Always Possible, But Follow A Few Basic Guidelines and It May Just Be You Can Avoid Them All Together
Remember to maintain a healthy weight for your dog’s size through healthy nutrition and regular exercise so as to reduce excessive weight bearing on the knee joint. In addition, be sure that your dog is prepared for more vigorous exercise in order to avoid activity they are not accustomed to.
There are vitamins and mineral supplements dogs can take to strengthen their connective tissues, so you may also want to check in with your veterinarian if this is appropriate for your dog. Some dogs are more genetically prone to knee injuries or hip joint issues, so in both cases, prevention is the best medicine!