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Stifle (or knee) injuries are a common occurrence in dogs, particularly if they are very active. Depending on the type of injury, it can take weeks or months for them to recover.
Some breeds of dog appear to be more at risk of knee injury than others. Small dogs such as the Miniature Fox Terrier can have a loose patella, or kneecap, which makes them more likely to hurt their stifle. The Chow Chow has a very straight hind leg, which can make injuries more common in this breed.
If your dog loves to chase balls, they can twist their stifle as they turn sharply. This often leads to a sprained or torn cruciate ligament in their knee.
If your dog starts limping on their hind leg, and is otherwise well, you can wait for 24 hours to see if they improve. Ideally, keep them in their crate to force them to rest the leg. Don’t allow them to run or walk, and take them outside to the toilet on a leash. If, after that period of strict rest, they are still limping, it’s time to visit your veterinarian.
When a dog is in a lot of pain, they may not allow a thorough examination of their sore stifle. If that’s the case with your dog, your vet will suggest a sedative or light anesthetic, so they are better able to feel and manipulate the joint. They may also suggest x-rays to check for any damage to the bone.
Treatment for knee injuries in dogs can be as simple as anti-inflammatory medication and rest for several weeks. It may also be as complicated as surgery to reconstruct torn ligaments.
It’s very difficult to rest an active dog to allow a knee injury to heal, but it is a vital part of their treatment. If the joint isn’t given time to heal, and your dog continues to use their leg, they may develop arthritis in the joint. This can lead to chronic pain and will definitely affect their quality of life.
In Summary – If your dog injures their stifle, follow your veterinarian’s advice closely, and this will give them the best chance of making a full recovery.
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