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If your pet has torn his ACL, we understand what a frustrating and upsetting experience this is for both you and your pet. In addition to worrying about your pet’s pain and whether he’ll be able to move comfortably again, you may also be wondering what to expect from cat & dog orthopedic surgery. Fortunately, our veterinarians have substantial experience treating cat and dog ACL tears, and frequently consult with board certified orthopedic veterinary surgeons regarding ACL tears.  Below, we’ve answered five of your most frequently asked questions about cat & dog orthopedic surgery and ACL tears.

#1: What are the symptoms of an ACL tear in a dog or cat?

No matter how an ACL tear occurs, the symptoms between a dog and cat are very similar. Symptoms of an ACL tear include a sudden onset of lameness accompanied by limping. For example, one minute your dog may be happy playing with others at the dog park, and the next he may be suddenly limping and squealing. In fact, the leg pain may be so intense that your pet is unable to put the leg down. Following an ACL tear, your dog or cat will need immediate medical attention from our veterinarians.

#2: What is accomplished with orthopedic surgery for ACL tears?

Orthopedic surgery is frequently necessary to prevent additional damage, manage pain, and restore mobility by stabilizing the knee and restoring normal movement.

#3: Are there alternatives to orthopedic surgery?

In many cases, orthopedic surgery is the best treatment option for an ACL tear.  However, the ultimate goal is to treat your pet’s pain as best as possible to improve quality of life and enhance mobility. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory medication along with natural supplements.

#4: What should I expect following surgery?

In the days immediately following surgery, pets will need to be kept calm and quiet to rest, without the use of stairs or jumping.  In the first few weeks, our veterinarians will encourage walking  and a specific regimen of physical therapy at home.   This will help to re-build strength without causing additional pain or injury. The recovery period is generally 12 weeks.

#5: Is orthopedic surgery effective for treating cat and dog ACL tears?

In general, if your pet is a good candidate for orthopedic surgery, then the procedure is an effective option for restoring mobility and managing pain following an ACL tear.