Friday, April 14, 2006

2380 Cruciate ligament injury and repair in dogs

The Wall Street Journal ran an article this week on the possible $6,000 vet bill you might have down the road for knee surgery for your dog. Yup. Even that "free" pup you got from the neighbors which you now love, that sleeps with you and which you treat like a member of the family. Dogs have five times the number of knee procedures as humans--about 1.2 million a year, and it isn't because they have more legs. It only affects two of their legs. And if you get one repaired, whamo, the other one will most likely go. Also, it requires a lot of rest and inactivity for the healing time, so good luck Bucko, on keeping that small horse size dog in the laundry room quiet and happy while you're at work.

I tried doing a literature review of this topic because all the major core veterinary journals are indexed in Medline, which is available free in PubMed. However, one of the things I've learned since leaving the library profession is that most of these databases have been so tweaked, that whatever you knew last year, but especially five years ago, means nothing today and you might as well stick with Google. Google will give you not only the leads to scholarly articles, but to the various veterinary clinics that will put the surgery and recovery text into understandable English. But add the word "veterinary" into your search strategy to avoid getting the research on humans that might be done on dogs.

Call me just a cranky ol' cat owner, but here's my guess why this injury probably is on the increase:
    Some dogs are being bred to be way too large--given a natural selection without human interference, most breeds wouldn't be anywhere near the huge sizes you see today. Probably about 12-14" at the shoulder. This body mass is very hard on legs and joints and internal organs. They also don't live as long as smaller breeds.

    People are overfeeding and underexercising their pets, but especially the large dogs. Those extra pounds affect their knees just like they do the owner who is huffing and puffing along side him in the park.

    I want to holler at dog owners in the park who are jogging with their dogs making them run on concrete sidewalks. Would it be so bad to jog in the grass? Have someone else run him in front of you and take a hard look at the gait I'm seeing as you go past me.

    Taking a sedentary dog, cooped up in an apartment or kitchen for 14 hours, out for a chase or run in the park where he'll be twisting and turning and jumping for Frisbees, looks like a recipe for knee disaster to me. At least do a slow warm up. You'll both benefit.

1 comment:

Harrison said...

Thanks for this. You're exactly right when it comes to the exercise/diet/overweight part. And like humans, as dogs age they develop the same sort of arthritis problems in their hips.

We're not one of the "fashionable" breeds and we like it that way. Waaaay too many breeds have been spoiled by poor breeding to produce a certain "look" that is suitable for a pampered pet, but nothing like their original development/purpose, i.e. hunting, retrieving, etc.

If ya' don't have room for a big dog to run the yard, get a small dog--or a cat. You'll save us dog families a lot of headaches.