It is not uncommon for a dog to injure themselves. Unfortunately, dogs all too often hurt their knees. In fact, CCL tears, more commonly known as ACL tears, are the most prevalent knee injuries in dogs. A CCL tear or other knee injuries are often painful. Luckily, there are a few simple signs that you can watch for to ensure you catch a knee injury quickly to help get your pet back on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
1. Lameness or Limping
Knee injuries can be debilitating. When dogs are in pain, their first instinct is to hold their leg up so it won’t hurt when they walk. This results in an obvious limp. If their injury is less severe, they may still try to walk with their leg but still exhibit signs of pain, such as bowing their head, whining, or trying to put as little pressure on their leg as possible which can be seen as toe-touching or barely setting the paw down when walking.
Atrophy is the loss of muscle in the body. This is most often caused by lack of use, such as when a dog has been limping for a long time. When a dog stops using their leg, the muscles decrease in size since they are no longer being used. You can tell that your dog's leg has begun to atrophy, when it begins to appear thinner or more boney than their good leg.
3. Awkward Sitting Posture
When a dog’s knee hurts, they will try to move it as little as possible and keep it in a comfortable position. This can result in some awkward looking sitting positions that might not look comfy. Some dogs will sit with one leg straight out to the side. Other dogs may sit more on their hips with their legs splayed outwards, appearing criss-crossed. By sitting in these odd positions, your dog is attempting to keep as much weight off their leg.
If you notice your dog's hind legs seeming stiff when they are walking, that could be a sign that they have a knee injury. Stiffness could be caused by swelling, scar tissue, or tight muscles trying to stabilize the injured area.
5. Difficulty Getting Up/Down
Dogs with an injury or joint condition may have difficulty getting up or down due to the pain. This may be obvious when they are attempting to get up from a lying position, despite having good traction underneath them. They may also struggle to lie down and it may be accompanied by whining. Once they are laying down, they may struggle to find a comfortable position due to the pain from the injury causing them to shift positions frequently.
6. Sudden Lack of Energy
A sudden lack of energy or willingness to move is a major sign that something is wrong. If your playful pup has suddenly stopped wanting to play, take a look at their knees. Pets in pain often don’t want to move because moving causes pain. It’s often not a case of lack of energy but rather a matter of avoiding painful movements.
7. Constant Licking
This may seem like an odd symptom of pain but many dogs will lick a spot that is injured. They often lick a painful spot because it temporarily soothes the pain. However, excessive licking may cause hair loss or sores overtime if not resolved.
Swelling is a cardinal sign of an injury. If your dog's knee, or the area around their knee, looks puffy or is hot to the touch, this may mean they have swelling in their knee. Swelling is the body's natural response to help heal an injury. It does so by bringing essential nutrients and white blood cells to the injured area. Swelling helps the area heal but can also be uncomfortable. If the swelling is prolonged, it can lengthen the recovery time period.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, or multiple at the same time, it is best to take them to your veterinarian to find out what’s going on. Your dog’s diagnosis will depend on their history and symptoms. Prolonged symptoms may point to chronic arthritis whereas sudden symptoms may point to a CCL tear. No matter your dog’s condition, we offer a range of dog knee braces to accommodate your pup’s diagnosis. Find out which one may be best for your pup by talking with our customer care team at firstname.lastname@example.org.