Joint and Ligament Injuries in Dogs

Pet Health

HIF Australia

Just like humans, our pooches are prone to joint and ligament issues. According to Veterinary expert, Dr. Melissa Meehan, "If left untreated, they can cause permanent problems that will affect their overall happiness". In this short clip, Dr. Melissa and Dr. Chris Preston discuss the most commonly found joint injuries and the possible consequences they could have on our pets.

Video Transcription

Dr Melissa Meehan: Just like us, dogs are prone to a number of joint and ligament issues. If left untreated though they can cause permanent problems that affect overall happiness

Melissa: What are the most common joint injuries or diseases that you treat?

Dr Chris Preston: So, I see a skewed population, Melissa, of the conditions that would be out there in the real world. The backbone of what I do would be hips, knees, elbows and spines. Which we’ve got some selections here. But that would probably make up 75% of what I do, on a daily basis.

Melissa: And what about during the week? Is there an over-representation of some particular surgery? Is there one that’s more common that others?

Chris: Cruciate would be the big one. Everyone knows about dog’s cruciates. Faulty knees joints, that would be the most common operation. Potentially knee-caps patella luxations would the second most common. It’s a little bit unusual how lame he is; most dogs with a cruciate rupture toe-tap. He’s completely holding his leg off the ground. He’s got quite a lot of movement or instability. You can see that there. So, he’s got a ruptured cruciate ligament in that knee and it is a complete tear. There’s two different types of tears - a partial and a complete.

Melissa: I’m often asked if joint and ligament injuries can be left to heal on their own over time especially when the costs are potentially running into the thousands.

Melissa: And what happens if, for example, in those animals that have the cruciate ligament injury or the disk herniation, if they don’t have surgery?

Chris: Well I just took a phone call on a client’s case this morning. The discussion point of what do we do if we can’t afford the surgery is a daily discussion and many of these surgeries that I’m doing you can manage the animal without surgery. A lot of them are either treating arthritis or preventing arthritis. So, you can live with arthritis and you can manage it medically but if we take a young patient that has got minimal arthritis and it’s actually got a mechanical problem in this case the knee is loose. It’s far superior to treat the cause to prevent arthritis in the future. So, the answer is you can manage them without surgery but there are still costs associated with that and it’s an incomplete solution.

Melissa: Well talking about cost, what sort of costs are we looking at? For example, for that surgery.

Chris: Most of these surgeries I’ve got on display here are going to cost $3000 to $4000. It’s not $10,000 but it’s certainly not $1000. It’s a big cost for the average household to absorb. The joint replacements, we’ve got a knee replacement here. It’s the same design as in humans, it’s a metal and plastic unconstrained knee and a hip. So, we would probably do a few of these a week. These aren’t $4000 they are probably closer to $7000 or $8000.

Melissa: You can see why.

Chris: Well the difference is the implants cost a lot. These implants are costing $3000 versus $300. That’s the difference. The surgery fee and the perioperative costs for pain relief, fluid therapy, hospitalisation are the same.

Melissa: Little Monty here has had his fair share of joint issues. Thankfully, he’s on-the-mend due to prompt surgery but that’s why it’s so important to take out pet insurance. Before any issues present themselves. 

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