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Dog Knee Injuries – 9 Best Tips for At Home Care

Dog knee injuries become evident when a dog begins to limp. Other signs of an injured knee include a hopping gait, not putting weight on one leg, difficulty with step.

A dog with a knee injury may not be able to jump from the ground into a car or from the floor to the furniture.

Not all dogs with cruciate ligament injuries require surgery. Dogs under 30 pounds are sometimes prescribed rest and moderate immobilization to recovery.

Eventually, however, your dog will need to go to the bathroom, eat, and drink. In order to do these things, he/she is going to have to move.

The following tips are designed for dogs that have received initial veterinarian care. Suspected knee injuries should be looked at by a professional initially. Broken bones, severely torn ACL’s, or underlying disease cannot be helped by the following at-home tips.

Tip #1

Help Your Dog With an Inexpensive Sling

Keeping your dog totally immobilized is not recommended. The joints need some movement to release natural lubrication. This natural lubrication (synovial fluid) helps keep the joints healthy.

Dog knee injuries can benefit from a dog sling when getting in and out of the car, going out to use the bathroom, walking to the food and water dish and for taking small walks.

Tip #2

Install a Dog Gate for Under $50

Talk to your veterinarian about allowing your dog to move freely around the house. Protect your dog from climbing or falling down stairs with a sturdy dog gate.

Dog knee injuries need to be protected from sudden impact or movements. A proper-fitting dog gate is necessary to keep your dog away from other active animals in the house as well as to protect him/her from bounding up the stairs or falling down them.

Tip #3

Prevent an Impulsive Jump

Keeping a dog relaxed and quiet is almost impossible. Dogs used to jumping on furniture, getting in and out of cars, walking up the stairs, and other routine movements are second-nature.

It’s important to find an alternative to jumping and climbing while your dog is recovering from a cruciate ligament rupture or tear. Dog knee injuries can quickly become worse with sudden impact or movement. It can also cause your dog a great deal of pain.

The easiest way to do this is to get a non-slip dog ramp. Pet ramps like the one in the picture below make it really easy for injured dogs to get around. Simply bringing your dog to the veterinarian can be difficult with a rear leg injury. Injuries in dogs are more manageable when you have the right tools.

Tip #4

Exercise the Mind to Calm the Body

There is more than one way to exercise a dog. The purpose of a walking a dog isn’t just to make him/her physically tired, it’s also used to stimulate the mind.

Sights, sounds, smells and touch all trigger a dog’s senses. The activation of those senses increase stimulation and aid in sleep and relaxation later.

Dogs with a partial tear, cruciate ligament rupture, or torn ACLS, need a way to release energy. Dog knee injuries are not conducive to long walks in the beginning stages of recovery. To help keep your dog calm, try keeping his/her mind active.

Options include:

Snuffle Mats

Snuffle mats provide texture and interest for your dog. Depending on the size of your dog, a snuffle mat could provide enough distraction to keep movement to a minimum.

Stress Less With These HINTS:

Add a few drops of essential oils for dogs to the mat for extra sensory stimulation.

The only difference between essential oil for people and essential oils for dogs is in the strength. You can use any essential oil you have at home for your dog by diluting it with a base. Use top quality almond, coconut, or olive oil for a mild mix your dog will love.

Make an essential oil spray with 2 or 3 ounces of distilled water and a few drops of essential oil. Shake the bottle and spritz some onto the snuffle mat.

Hide Zesty Calming Treats within the folds of the mat.

Tip #5

Invest in a Good Quality Dog Stroller

If your dog is under 30 pounds and recovering from dog knee injuries, there’s no reason why you can’t still bring him/her wherever you go. Many people use strollers to get around with their injured dogs. A good stroller, like the BestPet Stroller is top rated at Amazon and is made specifically for dogs.

Baby strollers serve the same purpose, but without a top cover there’s a possibility your dog could try to jump out. Keep your dog comfortable and safe in a stroller that’s made especially for pets like the one in the picture below.

Tip #6

Have Safe Painkillers on Hand

Dogs suffering from torn ACLS will have some pain, especially when moving around. Ask your veterinarian or veterinarian technician about safe over-the-counter pain medications for your dog.

There are many holistic options available, but it’s still important to make sure they are safe to use. Certain herbs and supplements can interact with other medications. There’s a chance for upset stomachs and other side-effects as well.

1-800 PetMeds offers a wide variety of pain medication for dog knee injuries, but many require a prescription. Never give your dog an old prescription or someone else’s prescription medication.


Tip #7

Joint Health Supplements

There are many dog joint health supplements on the market these days. Many offer big claims but do they deliver? It’s always better to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

Joint supplements are not designed for pain relief. Instead, joint supplements are designed to support and enhanced already healthy joints, or joints at the early stages of arthritis.

In addition to joint supplements, consider the benefits of a physiotherapist or dog massage therapy.

However, joint supplements can also have other health benefits, especially those with high quality Omega fatty acids. Dog knee injuries might benefit from top quality supplements under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Tip #8

Flat Out Doggy Bed Comfort

At the end of the day, you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible. There’s no better time to buy a top quality orthopedic bed for your dog than when he/she has an injury.

Sleep is important because it’s the time when the body repairs itself most efficiently. Investing in a high-grade orthopedic dog bed allows your pet the benefit of deep sleep and comfort.

Tip #9

Comforting Toys for Dogs

There are fun, interactive toys for dogs to get them on their feet, and there are soothing toys to help them feel comfortable with a new routine. Your dog is likely used to walks during the day, trips to the park, the beach, or just romping in the backyard.

Dog knee injuries can keep them away from everything they find joyful and comfortable. For a little added soothing, try SmartPetLove. It has a true-to-life heartbeat for comfort along with the medical benefits of a heating pad.

Quick Facts on Dog Knee Injuries

It takes time for a torn CCL to heal properly. Your veterinarian may want to see your dog for follow-up appointments to gauge how well the recovery is going and to adjust medication if necessary.

It’s easy to get caught up in the general care of your injured dog, so take a minute for this refresher on dog knee injuries. The information below can help provide insight and ideas on how to help your dog.

A licensed veterinarian is always the best person to speak to when dealing with any dog health issues.

Aging Dogs

As your dog grows older, his ligaments will weaken. Over time, the stress on the ligament might cause a tear or rupture.  A young dog can also suffer from an ACL injury as the result of a sudden movement such as jumping to catch a Frisbee.

Reasons for Dog Knee Injuries Can Include:

  • age
  • breed
  • weight (an overweight dog is more likely to suffer from a torn ACL)
  • sudden movement during activity

Dogs More Prone to Knee Injuries

Large dog breeds are more prone to ACL damage. The age of the dog, activity routine and weight are all factors which could push your dog closer to suffering from a torn ACL.

A Partial List of Dog Breeds Susceptible to Knee Injuries Includes:

  • Saint Bernard
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Akita

Obesity naturally puts more strain and pressure on the dog’s joints. Weight loss is recommended to reduce the risk of suffering a torn ACL.

Overweight dogs struggle to recover from ligament injuries and are more likely to experience injury to both knees.

Smaller and lighter dogs recover from ligament injuries much faster than larger dogs. The majority of small dogs are able to improve or regain normal leg function within 6 months and can sometimes recover without surgery


There are a number of surgical techniques that can be used to stabilize the knee joint. While surgery is usually recommended for large breeds, it’s important to note that not all dogs (large or small) are good candidates.

For clinical information on the various types of dog knee injury surgery, including medical data from veterinary surgeons, visit the Veterinary Teaching College.

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