Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Knee Surgery for Dogs

Whether from falls, activities or repeated use, knee injuries in dogs can happen when we least expect it. Here, our vets in Hoquiam talk about the impact of a knee injury or torn ligament and how surgery can help treat your dog's condition.

When a Dog Has a Torn Ligament or Knee Injury

Your dog's CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) is the connective tissue in their knee. Unfortunately, as a dog's knee is constantly load-bearing it can easily sustain trauma or injury. Because these types of injuries happen so often, orthopedic surgery is one of the types most commonly performed on dogs.

These injuries can be caused by acute onset (sudden injury) triggered by a sudden twisting or tearing of the ligament, or chronic onset caused by age, type of breed, obesity, or other factors.

Owners should also know that surgery for a CCL rupture does not repair a knee (stifle) joint, but simply stabilizes it. While this helps to stabilize the injured knee, the healthy knee may become more load-bearing. This can result in a CCL rupture on the healthy knee down the road.

When a dog experiences a torn ligament they are likely to be unable to walk around and they may display signs of pain including yelping. As the bones begin to rub together, arthritis can set in and the knee joint will not be able to function.

Signs of Knee Injuries in Dogs

Some of the most commonly seen signs indicating a knee injury in dogs include:

  • Stiffness (particularly after rest, following exercise).
  • Difficulty rising off the floor.
  • Struggling to jump up on furniture or climb stairs.
  • Hind leg lameness and limping.
  • Continued activity on a mildly injured leg will cause the injury to worsen and symptoms to become more pronounced.

When a dog has a torn ligament, they may begin to overcompensate using the other leg, which commonly leads to the injury of the second knee. Approximately 60% of dogs with a single CCL injury will go on to injure the other knee soon afterward.

Knee Surgery to Treat Torn Ligaments in Dogs

Surgery to repair the CCL is one of the most common surgeries performed each year. Given that this is such a common injury, several procedures have been developed over the years to repair the ligament. Each technique has its pros and cons, so it is important to discuss the options with your veterinarian to determine which procedure would be best for your dog's situation. Below are the most common methods of repairing the injury.

What are the different types of knee surgeries in dogs?

When a dog requires knee surgery, there are a few different types that might be considered. These are:

Lateral Suture (Extracapsular)

The CCL prevents the tibia from sliding forward and out from underneath the femur. This procedure is performed to restore stability to the knee by placing sutures outside the joint to mimic the normal activity of the CCL.

For this surgery, a one-fiber (continuous monofilament) nylon suture is placed around the femur’s fabellar bone and then looped through a hole drilled into the tibial tuberosity. Your vet will use a steel clip to hold each end of the sutures in place during healing.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

This procedure changes the angle of the tibial plateau, rotating it so the femur no longer slides backward and the knee is stabilized. This eliminates the need for the CCL ligament.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) Surgery

This procedure changes the dynamics of the knee so the CCL is no longer needed to stabilize the joint. A linear cut is made along the length of the tibial tuberosity (the front part of the tibia). The bone is then advanced, and the open space is filled with a special bone spacer, placed between the tibia and the tibial tuberosity.

A stainless steel metal plate is applied to secure the bone in place.

What type of knee surgery should my dog have?

A vet will be able to do a thorough exam of your dog's knee to assess its movement and geometry. They will consider factors like your dog's weight, age, lifestyle and size before recommending a proper treatment.

Once your vet has done a full evaluation of your pet's condition they will be able to recommend the best surgery to treat your dog's knee injury.

How long is the expected recovery from knee surgery for dogs?

The truth is that healing completely from knee surgery is a long process. While many dogs can walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and a return to normal activities will take 12 - 16 weeks or more.

Following your vet's post-operative instructions carefully will help your dog to return to normal activities as quickly as safely possible, while reducing the risk of re-injuring the knee.

Full recovery from many orthopedic injuries may take up to 6 months. You will need to ensure that you follow all aftercare instructions carefully and attend all follow-up exams and physical therapy sessions.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is experiencing pain while walking or other signs of a knee injury, please contact our Hoquiam veterinary team to book an exam.

New Patients Welcome

Raintree Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Hoquiam companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Learn More


300 Myrtle St Hoquiam WA 98550 US


  • Click to View

    • Monday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Tuesday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Wednesday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Thursday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Friday:07:30 am - 05:30 pm
    • Saturday:Closed
    • Sunday:Closed

Book Online (360) 532-1900