Your dog is like Tom Brady...and Kellen Winslow, Serena Williams, Daniel Agger, and hundreds of other professional athletes who share a common denominator: the infamous, season-ending knee injury. Now imagine the kind of moves a guy like Tom Brady will pull.He's ducking, weaving, pouncing, pounding, flying through the air, racing to a stop, and at every point during the mad rush he's giving 110% of his energy and focus. Now imagine your dog chasing his Kong Dog Ballistic Boomerang and now do you see the similarities?
One of the most common causes of lameness among athletes and canines alike is a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament ("CCL"), more commonly known in the sport's world as the anterior cruciate ligament or "ACL". Like any large, complicated joint, the knee requires supporting infrastructure to give it the stability to execute a wide range of motion while preventing abnormal rotation or sliding. The cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments that cross inside the knee joint prevent the bone of the lower leg (tibia) from slipping forward and out from the bone of the upper leg (femur).
Degenerative changes due to obesity, age, poor conformation, repetitive stress, patellar luxation (or "trick knee"), lifestyle, and even genetics can occur over time leading to a partial or complete rupture during even normal activity. In fact, the degenerative nature of the condition and hereditary factors contributing to its development are why veterinary professionals and pet insurance providers alike consider a ruptured CCL the result of cruciate disease as opposed to a singular event or accident. All dogs are susceptible to cranial cruciate disease, however, larger dogs and especially overweight dogs are at increased risk with the majority of cases occurring at a young age. Once the CCL has ruptured, changes inside the knee can lead to chronic pain or even rupture of the cruciate ligament in the opposite leg if not treated properly.
The diagnosis and treatment of a ruptured CCL typically requires x-rays and surgery as well as pain management, supportive care with joint supplements, restricted exercise, and rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery. Depending on the body condition of your dog, your veterinarian may also recommend a weight management plan to reduce strain on the limbs.
The veterinary medical bills associated with this process can be daunting, especially considering 30-40% of dogs with a ruptured CCL will also rupture in the opposite limb. Pet insurance can help offset the financial risk associated with such illnesses and allow your veterinarian to provide maximum care without decisions based on financial constraints. To give you an idea of how pet insurance can help, here's a sample bill based on a policy offering 90% coverage with a $100 deductible:
|Diagnosis (examination, sedation, x-rays, and pain medication):
Treatment (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy surgery):
Recovery (rehabilitation, joint support diet and supplements):
Total Owner Payment:
Total Covered by Insurer:
Like any disease or injury, early detection and treatment are important to ensure the best possible recovery. If your dog is lame and unable to bear any weight on that limb or if the lameness persists for more than 24 hours, take your dog to a veterinarian. Dogs most prone to cruciate disease are some of North America's most beloved pets, including Labradors and Shepherds. If you think your dog might be at risk, consult your veterinarian during your next wellness visit and talk to them about pet insurance. With the right treatment and recovery schedule, your dog can beat cruciate disease and take to the field with the best of them!
About the Author: Veterinary professional Dr. Craig Galbraith has worked with 24PetWatch for over six years, offering expert advice geared toward creating more efficient programs to help improve lost pet recovery and mitigate the cost of veterinary treatment for pet owners.