Tips for Walking a Dog with a Knee Injury

Last Updated on 2021-08-19 by Admin

The tips for walking a dog with a knee injury I learned from walking with Annie since she got spayed and diagnosed with a fully torn cruciate ligament. She was supposed to have immediate TPLO surgery.

Since Annie was diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament, we only did short walks. Annie is also very social. So when we are out for walks, she pulls like an ox and wants to go towards people or other dogs. Those actions put a lot of strain on the hind legs. If it were just the pulling, that would not be all that bad. But she then gets excited and starts to jump, and that I try to prevent as good as I can.

She will try to have her crazy five minutes on or off-leash. The pent up energy needs a release. So I put together some tips for walking a dog with a knee injury that worked well for Annie.

Here are the Tips for walking a dog with a knee injury.

Reduce the amount of food

Finding the right amount to feed can be tricky. Annie now only gets 50 % of the regular intake. She gets most of her food in the morning. Supper is pretty little. I feel bad when I see the small amount she gets for supper. But must resist the tendency to feel sorry for her.

Now that Your dog is getting less food, more begging for treats will be the norm. Dog Treats also have calories, and most treats don’t provide much nutrition. Give more nutritious treats like Carrots, Banana, Apple or Berries that have high nutritional value.

Use a very short leash when walking

It is easier to control Your dog on a short leash. One way to shorten the leash is to wrap it around Your hand. That can be done in the middle of the leash or towards the end of the leash. It also depends on how tall You are and how large or small Your dog is.

For medium to large size dogs, there are leash handles that work well. My wife remembered that we had bought one a couple of years ago when we looked for Annie’s custom collar. It was hanging on a hook in the closet under some other leash. If you are not familiar with a handle, have a look here.

Change the route where you walk often

With Annie, I try to change the route we go every day. The reason for that is when we go a new path or one that she has not been to in a while, she is busy sniffing. Sniffing is an excellent way to get Your dog tired and to keep them happy. One benefit is that a walk that may take 10 or 15 minutes now becomes 20 to 30 minutes. They don’t walk that much but get to be outside longer. As for how long to stay out depends on the condition of the injury and Your dog.

Here is what I use for a guide.

  • If Annie does not limp when we leave home, but see she starts to limp while we are out, we need to go back to strict mode. Strict mode is going out for business and back in. We then follow the strict mode until there is no more limping at home. That can be days.
  • If Annie does not limp when we leave home, she does not limp while walking, but is limping after resting. Then I reduce the time outside be about 50 %. At this stage, I want to see no limping the next time we go out. If there is limping, then we go into the strict mode for at least that day.

Watch out for what seems to be a recovery, 4 to 8 weeks after injury

After a few weeks, as things are getting better, Your dog will be all too happy to jump and play and lure You into some longer walks and more activity. DON’T GET SUCKED IN. It is when Annie is feeling better that we increase our time out a bit. She no longer has pain and is more ambitious. Annie also gets a bit more aggressive in her pulling and wants to go further.

It’s at this stage that we screw it up each time. Annie gets her way partially, and we end up with her limping for days afterwards. It is crucial not to give in to your dog’s desires.

It isn’t easy to judge how much is too much. So the best thing is not to increase anything at this time. If You have to do a little more, do it first thing in the morning. Then You can monitor the situation during the day.

Update: 2021-08-19

We did not achieve good enough results with the conservative treatment and ended up going for surgery to give Annie the kind a life a dog deserves. You can read about Why After one Year of Conservative Treatment I Decided on Surgery.

Consider getting a custom brace

With Annie, it is tough to tell when we went out walking for too long. For that reason, I ordered a custom brace. This knee injury will not be better in a few weeks. It will take many months and possibly up to a year. My wife and I decided not to do any surgery on her knee. You can see another research article here that shows TPLO surgery can cause cancer.

For the duration of the healing process, Annie needs to be active. A brace will allow her to be more active. I must admit that I am not a good judge on how much activity Annie can have without setbacks. For that reason, a brace it right for our circumstances.

What to look out for when getting a brace

  • Most braces that you find for a few hundred dollars or less will not support the knee sufficiently.
  • Should You live in an area that gets cold and it snows, make sure the brace can withstand that environment. I had initially ordered one and was able to cancel because it does not work in cold climates.
  • Casting for a brace will cost You. And as a surprise, I found out that I need a veterinarian referral to get someone to make a cast and a brace. Doing the model Yourself may not produce an excellent fitting brace. It does require some skill, and Your dog has to stay still during casting. That could mean the dog gets an Anesthetic.
  • If You are going to do it without a veterinarian, there is another option. One company uses Skype or face time to help You with taking the correct measurements. I took this option for Annie. The brace they make is suitable for cold weather. Buckles, instead of Velcro, is used for securing the brace on the leg. You can read about it here https://www.poshdogkneebrace.com/faqs/

Consider giving Your Dog Supplements

I would recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding the suitability for supplements. That is especially true for older dogs and dogs with health issues. Supplements can help reduce pain and speed up the healing process. That, in turn, can help to increase the amount of time of the walks.

Homemade Collagen

For Annie, we now cook duck bones, turkey bones or veal bones down to Gelatin. Please note, Beef bones are not suitable for this. Veal bones are the best for creating Gelatin. Veal bones are inexpensive, so I buy 10 lb at a time. All you need to do is put the bones in a large pot, fill with water and let simmer for 4 to 6 hours. If the stockpot is not tall, It may require adding water. When the broth has reduced, let it cool till it reaches room temperature. Then strain and pour it into a bucket. Refrigerate it to allow it gel. When cold, remove all the hardened fat that will have built up on top. Below the fat, You should have a very thick Jello\Gelatin. The Gelatin can be portioned into smaller containers and frozen for later use.

For each meal, we add a good junk of the Gelatin to Annie’s food. Collagen is a significant building block of bones and ligaments. I also give Annie a home made Eggshell Calcium powder with the Collagen. Studies have shown that type II Collagen can reduce joint pain by 62 %, to find out more please read my post on Collagen for Dog joint health.

Vitamin C – Calcium Ascorbate

Annie also gets Calcium Ascorbate added to her food.

Joint Supplement

We have tried several joint supplements with Annie, Some from the Veterinarian, others of our choosing. Most joint supplements contain Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Some products also include cancer-causing ingredients. One has to be careful in choosing something that works and is not causing harm down the road. What works for one dog may not work for another. I found by trial and error that MaxxiFlex plus works for Annie. MaxxiFlex plus contains, besides Glucosamine and Chondroitin, also Tumeric, Dismutase, Bromelain and other ingredients.

A realistic expectation is not that Your dog will run and jump because of a joint supplement. It will take a few weeks till the ingredients are in the system, then if the supplement works, the dog should have less pain, and walking is more comfortable. Please research the ingredients on the label before You buy it.

Homeopathic Ruta and Arnica

I was never a believer in Homeopathic Medicine. It just sounded a bit flaky to me. But I had to change my mind after I had given Annie Ruta and Arnica.

Close to 2 years ago, Annie was also limping, and we got it under control. Then one day after work, we went for a walk, and Annie saw one of her friends run in the field. So I let her loose the run as well. After they ran and were exhausted, I noticed Annie limping again. I was annoyed at myself for allowing her to run.

After Annie hobbled home on three legs, I had given here Arnica and Ruta together. Before, I had tried in the morning Anica and evening Ruta but did not see that it worked. Before Bedtime, I gave Annie Arnica and Ruta together again. The next morning she was not limping and played with other dogs. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. But I did cut the play short, knowing that limping generally comes after play.

Ruta and Arnica can have side-effects with other drugs. Check with your veterinarian for suitability for your dog. If You Veterinarian thinks it does not work or says it Quackery, see if you can get to an excellent holistic Veterinarian, they are more open to things like homeopathic medicine, Acupuncture, Massage and other natural solutions. The reason I’m saying that is that so far, Annie has always responded well to natural remedies. It’s one more option to consider, and if it ends up helping Your dog, it will have been worth it.

Using Arnica and Ruta is one tip that Annie responds to very well. She gets Arnica and Ruta three times a day. Annies’ reaction makes this one of my best tips under Tips for Walking a Dog with a Knee Injury.

Dismutase – Superoxide

Dismutase again is something that You may want to discuss with Your veterinarian.

I first heard about Dismatuse when I read an article that mentioned Dr. Thomas Van Cise, a well respected Veterinarian. He was able to help dogs with joint problems using Dismutase. You can review the report here.

Then I again noticed Dr. Thomas Van Cise’s name in one of the books that I often mention in my articles. The book is called “Veterinarians Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs.”

I had given Annie the Dismutase from Biovet in the past. Pretty quickly noticed a boost of energy in her when she was on it. It can be hard to get and was not available for along time. Then they changed the name and URL. It is now called Cell Guard Pet. They also make it for humans. It is available from agrigenic.com.

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Omega-3 is probably the most widely used supplement given to dogs. It is not just healthy for a shiny coat. It is also useful for osteoarthritis and other joint conditions. Unfortunately, the regulations regarding fish oil are weak. The Europeans have much stricter rules when it comes to fish oil. Good Omega-3 fish oil will have a certificate of analysis. You can read an in-depth coverage regarding Omega-3 fish oil here.

One brand of omega-3 fish oils with a certificate of analysis is Nordic Naturals Pet omega-3 fish oil. It is not hard to find online or health food stores.

Measuring Success

With Annie, the left hind leg thigh muscles were visibly smaller than the right thigh. Now, after weeks of short walks. Annie is putting full weight on her leg when walking. The left thigh muscles are very close to the right side. This way, I’m able to measure the success we had so far. I hope this will also reduce the right leg’s stress and prevent a ligament tear on the right side.

Conclusion

You can do much to go walking with a dog that has a knee injury. The simplest is to reduce the amount of food given to the dog. The other is to control the dog better during walks by shortening the leash. It is essential to minimize the opportunity for the dog to jump or pull.

Don’t be tricked into thinking that all is well because the dog no longer limps and wants to do more. That is the Critical phase where re-injury happens. A brace might give Your dog a better quality of life, that might be more important with active and younger dogs. Older dogs might be manageable without a stifle brace. A Brace is also a costly investment and may not be something everyone can afford.

One tip in particular in the Tips for walking a dog with a knee injury is the one regarding changing the route. This tip is easy to implement, fits older and Young dogs and is excellent for there mental health. Sniffing makes dogs happy. That is based on research, as mentioned in one of my other articles.

Supplements are costly, and its best to have them reviewed with a Veterinarian to make sure they don’t interfere with other medication or health conditions. Cooking some Gelatin from Veal bones don’t cost much and is very helpful in healing the knee.

I hope the Tips for Walking a Dog with a Knee Injury help the readers of this Blog that go thru a similar journey.

Resources:

Osteosarcoma following tibial plateau leveling osteotomy in dogs: 29 cases (1997-2011) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24739115/

Glucosamine and chondroitin use in canines for osteoarthritis: A review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356289/

Article that mentioned Dr. Thomas Van Cise https://canadiandogs.com/understanding-legg-calves-perthes-disease-in-dogs/

Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20043800/

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