Orthopedic Surgery Available for Dogs and Cats

One of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs is a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament. This ligament attaches the femur to the tibia inside the knee joint and acts as a stabilizing structure that prevents abnormal movement in the joint while allowing full range of motion. When the cruciate ligament is compromised by a partial or complete tear, the joint becomes unstable resulting in inflammation, swelling and pain. This instability can compromise the meniscus resulting in fraying or tearing of this intra-articular "cushion".

Our first step is to evaluate the patient for pain and joint instability during the course of an office visit and to subsequently take appropriate radiographs under sedation. These radiographs are useful for diagnostic and surgical planning purposes. We also take this opportunity to further evaluate the joint for instability while the patient is relaxed.


Pre-operative care helps our orthopedic veterinarian make the surgery go as smoothly as possible. The first step involves discussing your pet's treatment options. Some conditions, such as a ruptured ACL or hip dysplasia, respond to any of several types of surgical correction or restoration. Your veterinarian will discuss these options with you so you can make an informed choice. If your pet's orthopedic problem has been previously evaluated and diagnosed by another orthopedic veterinarian, it is helpful for you to obtain the X-rays and other documentation from that visit. Of course, we are also able to provide a full evaluation as needed.


Pet owners generally do not have to make elaborate preparations for the day of the procedure. The night before, withhold all food after your pet's final meal of the day. Our orthopedic veterinarian asks owners to do this because general anesthesia can sometimes increase the risk of vomiting. There's no need to withhold water, however. On the morning of the surgery, go ahead and take your pet for their usual walk, but try to restrict them from running around or other vigorous exercise. We recommend that you allow plenty of time for the surgery so you can arrive early. Your pet will feel more relaxed if you are feeling calm and relaxed as well!


Post-operative care involves helping your pet remain comfortable and making sure that the wound heals properly. The full healing time for orthopedic surgery may take months, during which time the animal can re-injure by overtaxing the repaired bones or joints. A carrier or pet crate is recommended to keep your pet's activities at a minimum while they recovers. We can advise you on the right size and type of carrier for your pet. Even if your pet is capable of walking on the newly-repaired limb, prevent him from climbing stairs until your orthopedic veterinarian has cleared them for this activity.