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Grandview Animal Hospital & Animal Rehabilitation Center

Cruciate / IVDD


The cruciate ligament may be small but it can cause a big problem for our canine patients. There is a population of sedentary, overweight dogs that are at risk for cruciate disease from a very young age. When injury, abnormal anatomy, inflammation or obesity lead to a torn or partially torn cruciate ligament, owners are faced with stressful and expensive decisions. Owners may be told to pursue stabilization surgery as soon as possible to prevent progression of arthritis however nothing is simple with this complicated joint.

dog with knee braceQ: Will delaying surgery result in an abnormal joint?
A: Your dog’s joint is (and always will be) abnormal because of the cruciate disease. This is the case with or without surgical stabilization. Surgery limits the abnormal forward movement of the tibia, it does not erase the fact that the joint has been forever altered. We believe you have time after the injury to discuss what approach best fits your dog’s lifestyle. These injuries rarely happen in a truly healthy and normal joint. Anatomy, genetics, inflammation and fitness level can all influence your dog’s likelihood of injuring their cruciate ligament.

Q: When is surgery necessary?
A: Young, athletic dogs needing to return to full function often need stabilization. Dogs with meniscal involvement often need stabilization. Dogs that have significant pain and lameness despite rest and aggressive pain management may need stabilization.

Q: What is “prehab”?
A: A comprehensive plan to address pain, effusion, inflammation, swelling while protecting the opposite knee can be started immediately after an instability is diagnosed. Acupuncture, therapeutic LASER, massage, underwater treadmill therapy and core strengthening exercises help our cruciate patients either start to heal or prepare for surgical stabilization.

Q: What is conservative management?
A: Some of our cruciate disease patients are older, overweight or might be described as couch potatoes. Invasive and expensive surgical procedures may not the right option for everyone. Our goal with these dogs is working towards eliminating pain, minimizing lameness and improving strength while focusing on protecting the healthy leg. We can often achieve a very good level of comfort and mobility even if some instability still exists. Acupuncture, therapeutic LASER, massage, underwater treadmill and strengthening exercises are all components of a management plan. Conservative management of cruciate disease can be a marathon vs. a sprint but there are many patients who do well with this approach. Dogs who must return to a very active lifestyle or have unmanageable pain may not be candidates for medical management of their instability.


Intervertebral disc disease in dogs can be a very traumatic experience for both the pet and owner. Seeing your dog is pain and losing mobility is difficult but becomes especially complicated when the treatments offered are expensive, invasive and need to be done right away. Time to surgery can be critical for many dogs who have severe compression of the spinal cord. There are options for many dogs with symptoms of IVDD or those recovering from an previous injury and good evidence to support who needs surgery in these situations.

Localization of the lesion – using the results of a neurologic exam we can help you determine where along the spinal cord your dog is injured. This is a critical component of determining your next steps. If you do not have an idea of where your dog’s lesion is localized to on the spinal cord you should see a second opinion.

Prognosis – your dog’s prognosis and ability to get better depends on the results of this exam. The presence or absence of pain sensation and the location of the compression influence the prognosis. Some dogs are unlikely to regain function without surgery and some will likely do well. If you have not been educated on the possible prognosis of your pet’s IVDD injury based on localization and pain response you should seek a second opinion.

IVDD is a TIME dependent disease. This is a disease pets are affected with for a lifetime. There is a window of time after symptoms develop to start treatment or pursue surgery for the best outcome. A significant amount of time is spent resting during rehabilitation and recovery.

If your pet is a candidate for decompression surgery you should seek the services of a board certified veterinary surgeon at a local referral hospital, UMC-VMTH or the K-State VMTH.

If your dog had an IVDD injury and has not regained mobility we may be able to help. Core strength exercises, balance training, pain management and acupuncture are utilized to help maintain or regain mobility when possible.


Have Questions?

We are happy to answer your questions or provide additional information.

Give us a call at 816-492-6061 or contact us online.

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