Information About Your Dog's Patella Surgery
Patella surgery is often needed when your dog has a condition called luxating patella. This occurs when your dog's knees line up incorrectly or are malfunctioning or misshapen. It most often is seen in smaller breeds however, dogs of any size can suffer from the condition.
If you notice any symptoms that lead you to believe that your dog has this condition, you need to consult your veterinarian. Catching the condition early on allows for a variety of treatment methods. If the condition is left to progress, patella surgery is usually necessary.
Signs And Symptoms
- Popping – You may be able to hear an actual popping sound that comes from your dog's legs if you pick him up to put him in your lap.
- Skipping – One of the earliest visible symptoms of luxating patella is skipping instead of running. This allows the dog to run without placing one of the legs down.
- Crying – Your dog may cry when running which is an obvious sign of pain.
- Lameness – Many dogs will limp for a couple days and then go back to normal, only to continue to repeat the cycle. This is most often when patella surgery ends up being necessary because the condition has been left to progress.
If you have evaluated your dog and it is obvious that he is avoiding putting weight on the leg, you need to schedule an exam with your vet. If your dog appears to be in great pain and it is the evening or weekend, you will need to go to an animal hospital.
Less severe cases are often treated with anti-inflammatory medicine and reduced exercise. For a more serious case, patella surgery will need to be scheduled.
If your dog has surgery, you will need to create a relaxing environment for him to heal in. You should move his bed somewhere quiet in your home without a lot of traffic and make sure he has toys and water near by. The last thing he needs is to have to travel to his water dish or get dehydrated.
Keep the area with the bandage very clean. This is extremely important to avoid the risk of any infection developing. Inspect the area a couple of times per day for any excessive swelling or redness.
Your dog will be prescribed anti-inflammatory and pain medication that is typically taken for a week. Stitches are removed within two weeks and you need to try to keep your dog inactive. Put him on a leash when going outside so he isn't tempted to run around and hurt himself.
After about a week, your dog will probably begin physical therapy. Slow walks will be allowed for about five minutes at a time. Swimming is highly recommended because it doesn't have much impact on the joints. In about six weeks, longer walks will gradually be added.
Complications From Surgery
Patella surgery has about a 90 percent success rate. Surgery is fairly straight forward so complications are not common but it is still important to be aware of them.
- Infection – The most popular complication is infection of the wound. Your veterinarian may decide to prescribe your dog antibiotics after the surgery, regardless if infection is present or not to be on the safe side. If this is the case, you may want to discuss any concerns you may have over offering unnecessary medication to your dog.
- Anesthesia Reaction – Although it is rare, some dogs will have a reaction to anesthesia which can ultimately be life-threatening.
- Pin Problems – If the pin happens to migrate after surgery, another procedure may be needed to remove the pin. Also, a pocket full of fluid called a seroma can form above the pin. This is similar to an abscess and will either need to be removed or drained.
- Unsuccessful Surgery – There are about 10 percent of dogs that continue to experience pain or discomfort after patella surgery. Additionally, there are also occurrences when fixing the knee increases pressure or produces other joint and bone issues.