Dogs' knees, also known as their stifles, are analogous to human knees, and like human knees, they have an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. Also like humans, dogs can tear this ACL, and when that occurs, the best fix is surgery. If you are the owner of a dog who needs ACL surgery, then you probably have a few questions. Below, you should hopefully find the answers.

Will the tear heal itself without surgery?

Some pet owners are scared to have their dog put under anesthesia and operated on, and so they avoid surgery in hopes that the tear will fix itself in time. Unfortunately, this rarely plays out well. Very minor tears may heal on their own, but if your vet is recommending ACL surgery, it is because the tear is too serious to heal without the surgery. Yes, there are risks involved with surgery, and it can be a little scary to have your dog put under, but rest assured that this is the best thing for your dog and that your vet truly does have your dog's best interests in mind.

How will your vet repair the tear?

Although there are a few ways to repair a torn ACL in a dog, the most common one is called the lateral suture procedure. This procedure involves using stitches to replace the torn part of the ligament. Basically, the two torn ends are stitched together. After the surgery, your dog's body will build up scar tissue around the sutures and stabilize the ligament. 

Will your dog be able to walk comfortably after surgery?

Your dog will likely experience some pain for a few weeks following the procedure. Your vet will give them some pain medications to keep the discomfort under control, and you will need to keep them immobile for a few days. They'll have a cast initially. Once this cast is taken off, your dog should slowly start resuming the use of their knee as the pain subsides. The surgical site should be mostly healed within three months.

Since the sutures used to repair the ACL have a different stretchiness than the natural ligament, your dog's knee may continue to be a bit stiff after the surgery. They may not bend it quite like they did initially. However, they should be pain-free and able to run and jump without worry.

If your dog needs ACL surgery, don't hesitate to bring your questions to your vet. They should be happy to tell you all you need to know about the procedure.

To learn more, contact a resource that offers veterinary surgical services.

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