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Advances In Medicine A Blessing For Active Dogs

Advances In Medicine A Blessing For Active Dogs

by Dr. Carla Case-... on Tue, 11/06/2012 - 5:27pm

Excerpt from: The Savannah Sports Monthly

 By Edward DeVita


There are few things that can cause more stress and concern in a home than when your family dog is injured.

                Whether they are greyhounds, cattle dogs, competition canines or simply the family pet that relishes chasing down a Frisbee at the park, dogs are more often than not susceptible to sustaining traumatic knee injuries than in the past. Years ago, that would have dictated an invasive surgery, a long rehabilitation and a great deal of expense – without the guarantee of a full recovery.

                Now, due to the advances in veterinary medicine, these injuries can be detected earlier and rehabilitated more quickly and thoroughly.

“A lot of canine athletes get a number of traumatic injuries,” explained Dr. Mike Ammermon, who has been treating patients at Savannah’s Case Veterinarian Hospital for a year and a half. “More than broken bones, what we see orthopedically are typically confined to the knee joint.”

Two injuries that are seen most commonly are rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament, which is the canine version of a human’s ACL and patella luxations, which is a traumatic breakdown of the soft tissue that holds the kneecap in place.

“The main thing that you can do to prevent these types of injuries, specifically if you have a dog that is in competition, is a hunting dog, or own any dog that is going to take part in strenuous activities, is to first keep their body weight ideal,” said Ammermon. “You don’t want an overweight dog trying to do too much.”

“You also want to keep them active,” added Ammermon. “In that regard, dogs are just like people. If you are not active and you try to go out and play a game of flag football, chances are you are going to leave there with something that hurts or is bothering you. If you remain active, your body will get accustomed to that exercise and will begin to fight off those aches and pains.”

Just like in humans, dogs who are suffering from either the onset of one of these injuries or a full blown ligament tear will display several warning signs to let their owner know that there is a problem.

“The first thing that you will notice is that the dog will be reluctant to perform at a level that they are used to,” said Ammermon. “A lot of times it will be as obvious as a limp. They don’t want to put any weight on their leg, so they will hold their leg up. It can also, however, be something as subtle as a pet not having the drive or desire to do the types of things that they would normally do and that they really enjoy. If you start to see that, the best thing that you can do is to bring your dog in and have him or her evaluated. In a lot of cases, we can detect a problem and treat it before it becomes a larger and more difficult injury to treat.”

Advances in veterinary medicine have allowed for dogs to have a less invasive surgery that does not replace the ligament, but actually repairs it by eliminating the need for the cruciate ligament in the weight bearing state. This allows for a quicker and more complete recovery for the dog. For years, this surgery was reserved for only a handful of doctors to perform and now is available in Savannah at Case Veterinary Hospital.

 “If you elect to go through the process of having the surgical procedure and the rehabilitation here, we also provide our patients with a guide to recovery that outlines what to do and what to expect on a week to week basis,” stated Ammermon. “This allows for a greater portion of the recovery to be done at home rather than having to carry your dog to and from a facility.”

“If you or I were to have this type of surgery, we would be out for a long time,” added Ammermon. “Athletes that have this procedure are routinely out of action for their entire season. You hear about them going through months of rehabilitation and then you see them back on the field the following year. Luckily, dogs are a lot quicker at getting back to normal than we are.”

While the recovery period for us may be eight to ten months, dogs on the mend after this surgery are often back to normal in four to six months.

 “What you have now is an injury that not too long ago was devastating, but can now be treated more quickly and thoroughly right here at home,” said Ammermon. “The end result is a healthier pet and a happier home.”

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