Cruciate Ligament Rupture

Like us, dogs have knees and there are two ligaments that help to hold and stabilise the knee joint. These ligaments are the cranial (anterior) cruciate and the caudal (posterior) cruciate and they cross over one another within the knee joint helping to secure the thigh bone, knee cap and shin bone together. Sometimes these ligaments tear and this is called a rupture.  When the tear occurs the tibia moves freely from under the femur and it is this movement and rubbing that causes the pain. You will probably have seen athletes or sportsmen or women pull up suddenly and be in considerable pain after a ligament has ruptured. It is very similar for dogs and they will usually show lameness in a rear leg.  Whilst not life threatening, it is extremely painful and needs immediate veterinary treatment. Failing to get treatment can cause arthritic changes that can lead to long term lameness.

So what causes a cruciate ligament to rupture and what can you do to help prevent it?

Sometimes it is just their sheer athleticism and over exuberance that can cause the tear. Healthy dogs might land wrongly from a jump, turn too quickly or just over stretch. Overweight dogs are at greater risk due to the excess weight carried and weakened joints. Over time degenerative forces acting on the knee joint can also lead to a tear.  Certain breeds are more prone to cruciate rupture so it is likely genetics play a part too.

So what will your vet do?

Initially your dog will be examined in a consultation and the vet will manipulate the leg to try to establish exactly where the pain is happening. Watching how your dog walks (its gait) will also assist in making a diagnosis for a cranial rupture. If your vet thinks it is a cranial rupture they will likely manipulate the femur and tibia to check for instability. Something they will look for is a cranial draw sign where the tibia moves forward independently of the femur. Also, a test called the tibial thrust will be performed. If the signs are not clear then your dog may need to have x-rays .

In the majority of cases cruciate injuries will require surgery, but your vet may consider a more conservative option first  with pain relief, anti inflammatory drug medication and a number of weeks of cage rest. The most common surgical treatment at Cherrydown is a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy) which is conducted by our orthopaedic specialist J.B. Lefebvre. It is a complex operation and involves altering how the knee joint works to allow it to function without the cruciate ligament. During the operation the tibial plateau is rotated and a metal plate inserted to keep the bone in its new position. Over several weeks and with the dog restricted to cage rest only, the bone will heal into the new position. Following cage rest, further examination and x-rays will be required to make sure the surgery was a success and the joint is healing properly. Successful surgery is usually long lasting and dogs can go on to lead a normal active life.

What are the costs?

Where surgery is required there are considerable costs involved due to the complexity of the operation. If complications occur this will add to that cost. At Cherrydown we aim to cap surgery prices in advance and you will be given a fixed price to better enable you to manage your finances. If you are a client of Cherrydown and your pet is insured then you may be eligible for Direct Insurance* where we will foot the bill until your insurance company pays out. Typically a TPLO operation will cost between £2500 and £3000 and this is one of the reasons we strongly recommend that pets are insured and that the policy will cover at least this amount. Cruciate ligament ruptures, hip and elbow dysplasia and fractures are fairly frequent occurrences among dogs and each of these can cost a significant amount for treatment. Without insurance would you be able to meet the cost to give your best friend the best chance of a full recovery?

Big Dog – Training and Socialising your Big Dog

Dogs are a lot of fun. They can be loving, energetic, mischievous, playful and can make you cry with laughter at some of the things they get up to. But equally, without the right training, socialisation & stimuli, they can be aggressive, destructive or fearful.

Training and Socialisation are two of the most important things you can do with your dog to make sure they fit into your life and that of your family.

Different breeds have different attributes and these need to be researched carefully before deciding which to get. Why do you want the dog? Who will it be around? Where will it be living and are there other pets there are all important factors when choosing your dog and training it.

Socialisation is the process by which a puppy learns how to recognise and interact with living things i.e. other dogs, people, cats etc. By learning how to interact with other animals the socialised dog develops important communication skills. If getting an older dog, it is important to know it’s background, any training it has already had and the sort of environment it is used to.

Habituation is a process by which the puppy becomes accustomed to environmental stimuli i.e. non living things e.g. cars, washing machines etc.

The most effective socialisation period is at ages 3-12 weeks. This is also known as the sensitive period. Appropriate experiences with people, dogs and the environment are essential during this 3-12 week period if your puppy is to develop into a suitable pet. Failure to receive this experience is a major cause of behavioural problems in dogs later in life.

The importance of socialisation in dogs has been shown in a number of experiments. One such experiment kept puppies in isolation and were introduced to people at staggered intervals:

-puppies introduced for the first time between 3 and 5 weeks were fine

-puppies introduced between 5 and 7 weeks showed increasing apprehension.

-puppies introduced at 9 weeks were completely fearful

-puppies kept in isolation until 14 weeks behaved like wild animals

Similar experiments have shown a similar time scale is applicable for habituation.

Training from an early age is also essential and the earlier you begin with simple commands, the quicker and easier they will pick it up. Training can be made fun and part of play where your dog can also learn basic social skills. This can progress to formal training at one of the many recognised dog training schools. Exercise and walks can also be used for training. Making sure your dog walks to heel and won’t dart off and drag you off balance are simple skills that they can easily be taught. Releasing a ball, sitting or laying down are things that can be practised in the home in a fun way that will benefit both you and your dog.

 

Big Dog – Is getting a big dog the right decision for you?

When we talk about a big dog, we are thinking of the following – GSD, Rotties, Doberman, Great Dane, Wolfhound, Mastiff types, Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers- English and Staffie, Labradors and a few others.

The first consideration when getting any dog is whether you have really thought the decision through carefully.

Dogs undoubtedly make wonderful companions but can you genuinely answer YES to all the following questions:

  1. Do you have time for a dog? Dogs (and particularly puppies) require an enormous amount of time and patience from their new owners. House-training, grooming, socialising, training, feeding, exercising etc take a long time to achieve. These are most successfully achieved if someone is with the dog most of the day at home. If you want a puppy and it is going to be on its own 8 hours a day while everybody is at work, then think again.
  2. Does everyone in the home want a dog?
  3. Can you afford a big dog? After the cost of buying the dog, there are feeding costs, veterinary costs, vaccinations, flea and worm control, bedding, toys, boarding kennels, collars and leads, training classes etc. Getting a big dog will be more costly than getting a smaller one in almost every way, are you prepared for this?
  4. Can you provide a safe and secure home for, possibly, 15 years plus? Remember, circumstances can easily change so think long and hard about this one.
  5. Have you fully researched what owning a large dog entails by speaking to other owners, visiting shows, talking to breeders/vets/dog trainers.
  6. Have you considered what breed to get? Some are better with children than others, some do not like being left alone & can suffer separation anxiety, some are more prone to certain medical conditions while others require more exercise or grooming.

A big dog comes with a big responsibility, but thankfully as with children, the enjoyment you get from a dog can make it all worthwhile. Owning a dog can be very rewarding,  help to keep you healthier and add another aspect to your social life. Training classes  and walks are a great way to meet like-minded people, swap stories, tips and ideas. 

The Rottweiler

Rottweilers originate from Germany and Italy & were originally used for herding and as guard dogs. The Roman army had dogs to protect the soldiers & herds and in Rottweil in Germany they interbred with more local dogs to form a larger dog. They continued to be used for herding & breeding but numbers went into decline during the 1800’s. They started a comeback in the early 20th century & are now a popular breed often used for working.

Rottweilers are a big powerful muscular dog with a broad & deep chest. They have many of the traits associated with GSD’s – trainable, courageous & devoted to their owners. They are loyal and protective of their owners and willing to fight fiercely if they are threatened. Despite their size & powerful frame, they can be good around children and other pets. The best way to ensure this is to start early socialisation and training as a puppy.

Most of a dogs behavioural traits are formed in their first few weeks and it is important at this early stage to introduce the Rottie to all the sights and sounds of your home. Children need to be taught to respect the puppy & vice versa. When buying a puppy, check to see if the breeder has started their socialisation. Are they a well known, recognised breeder of Rotties that has invested time with the pups. Rottie’s can sense how a person is feeling, if they are afraid, irritated, angry, calm.

As with the GSD, they have been used extensively by the police and military because of their obedience & trainability. They need a lot of exercise and will not want to be kept cooped up in doors for long periods alone. They will make an ideal companion for a run through the forest or a leisurely bike ride. They are also slow to mature and up to two years is not unusual.

They live about 10 to 12 years and below we consider some of the commoner problems we see in Rottweilers. Obviously we can see many other problems with them but these are some of the ones they are susceptible to

Skin problems:

Allergic skin disease including food allergies and atopy (environmental allergies)
Canine acne

Gastrointestinal disease

Parvovirus infected- a fatal disease we routinely vaccinate against
Inflammatory bowel disease causing diarrhoea

Musculoskeletal conditions

Hip and Elbow dysplasia
Cranial Cruciate Ligament rupture
Osteosarcoma- bone cancer
Cancers of the toes

Neurological Problems

Meningitis
Various polyneuropathy- diseases affecting multiple nerves in the body that affect the ability to walk and move

Eye Problems

Entropion- curling in of eyelid
Distichiasis- extra eyelashes
Inherited eye problems including cataracts, retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia

Rottweilers can make a wonderful family pet, but whilst they look cute & cuddly as a puppy, it must be remembered that they will reach 100lb in weight and be more powerful than any family member. Training is essential, needs to be started at an early age and continue through its lifetime.