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DAMAGED CRUCIATE LIGAMENT - HOW TO SUPPORT HEALING AND DELAY ARTHRITIS

Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the commonest orthopaedic injury in dogs.

It varies in severity from the ligament simply being overstretched, to either a partial tear or complete rupture.

And because the function of the ACL (along with it's partner, the posterior cruciate ligament) is to maintain a stable knee when a dog is walking, running and playing, any significant damage to the ligament results in excessive movement of the femur (thighbone) on the tibia (shinbone). The longer this instability persists:

  • the greater the inflammation in the joint
  • the more painful it becomes
  • the more likely it is that arthritis will develop sooner rather than later

In days gone by, this was a career ending injury in footballers. However, with the advent of sophisticated surgery, nutritional support, plus intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation, this is no longer the case. 

Key for a rapid recovery, is:

  1. Restoring stability to the joint as quickly as possible.
  2. Ensuring the diet provides a rich supply of the nutrients the body needs for effective joint repair.
  3. Providing the right kind of exercise, to restore normal limb movement, mobility, flexibility and strength.

And the same is true for dogs.


Steps to take to support healing and delay the onset of arthritis

1. Surgery

Dogs weighing less that 15kg can sometimes recover from ACL rupture without surgery, as long as they receive the right nutritional support along with rehabilitation therapy. In most cases, those heavier than this need some form of stabilisation, to prevent additional trauma being inflicted upon the joint by normal weight-bearing.

2. Supplementation

JOINTS provides complete musculoskeletal nutrition, and as such, is the perfect supplement to support optimum joint health, especially during convalescence:

  • hydrolysed collagen supplies the nutritional building blocks for ALL joint structures, including cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones
  • hyaluronic acid supports the formation of healthy, oil-like synovial fluid which lubricates movement. It also helps cartilage remain hydrated and elastic, which is important for its shock absorbing properties, and the smooth gliding of the articular surfaces of the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone)
  • organic kelp provides more than 80 minerals and trace elements, essential for the healthy functioning of joint tissues
  • bromelain which has natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties 

It is best to start adding to the diet as soon as an injury is suspected, and continued indefinitely.

JOINT SUPPORT supports the body's natural self-repair mechanisms and also soothes sore tissues. Not only does it aid a rapid return of normal limb function, it reduces recovery time following hydrotherapy sessions (see below). It is best given as soon after ACL damage as possible, and continued until recovery is complete (typically 8 - 16 weeks).

RECUPERATION is invaluable for any soft tissue injury - and this includes surgery. Given post-operatively, it reduces discomfort and aids a rapid recovery. It can be given alongside Joint Support.       

3. Rehabilitation

Hydrotherapy is widely recognised to be an invaluable aid for helping dogs with any form of musculoskeletal damage or disease, to regain better mobility, muscle strength and an improved quality of life. And this is especially true following ACL rupture. 

Coupled with the targeted nutritional support outlined above, the results are even more impressive.


NOTES ON RISK FACTORS

ACL rupture is significantly higher in dogs:

  • when one cruciate ligament has already been damaged (in 30 to 50% of cases, there is a similar occurrence in the opposite leg within a few years)
  • of medium, large and giant breeds
  • who have a genetic predisposition for this to occur (history of this injury in related dogs)
  • fed an unbalanced diet, or one deficient in certain nutrients
  • who are overweight 
  • involved in activities which involves repeated, high energy impacts to joints (typical in working dogs and those participating in endurance events such as CaniCross or sports such as Flyball)    

Particular attention should be paid to supplementation and other areas of pet care (such as the quality of the diet being fed, reduction of weight, regulation of exercise / activities etc) when one or more of these factors apply.


LARGE BONED PUPPIES 

From weaning to 12 - 24 months of age, dogs grow quickly and change shape as they mature. And this is especially pronounced in medium, large and giant breeds.

This whole, amazing process involves the rapid formation of new muscle, bone and cartilage, plus the strengthening of ligaments, tendons and other structures that make up the musculoskeletal system. It is essential during this period of physical development, that the diet provides a rich supply of all the building blocks necessary to form the healthiest possible tissues, if problems are not to appear, such as:

  • poor joints
  • weak bones
  • splits in cartilage
  • overly lax ligaments
  • muscles which are easily injured or sprained
  • an unhealthy conformation
  • a predisposition for ACL rupture

Because Vince the Vet Veterinary Formula JOINTS provides nutrients which nourish the entire musculoskeletal system, it is an invaluable addition to the diet of rapidly growing pets, especially if their adult weight is likely to be 25kg or more.