What Should You Do If Your Dog Tears a CCL?

By Langley Cornwell

We like to take our dogs out in the woods to let them run and play off-leash. There is a secluded area near our house that’s perfect for this kind of activity, and we try to get out there so they can romp around at least twice a week, weather permitting. The fresh air and sunshine is good for all of us. We’ve been doing this for years and consider it quality family time.

Recently on one such outing, Frosty came back limping. We checked her pads carefully to make sure there wasn’t a thorn or cut causing the limp. Everything looked fine, but she wouldn’t put her left rear leg down so we called our vet and went straight over.

When we walked in, he took one look at her and said “I hope it’s not what it looks like, but I’m pretty sure it is.” They took her to the back to get x-rays and then confirmed what he suspected. Our dog had a rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). She had torn her CCL, which is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

A dog’s CCL (and a human’s ACL) is the ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee joint.

Causes

When a dog twists on her hind leg or makes an abrupt turn while running full speed, she can tear her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). The twisting motion puts sudden, extreme tension on the ligament which can cause it to tear. Sudden CCL tears most commonly happen when a dog slides on a wet surface, makes a sharp turn when she’s running, or gets hit from the side by a car.

Some CCL tears happen over time. Obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing this problem than healthy weight dogs. Excess weight puts undue stress on a dog’s knees and the cranial cruciate ligament becomes so weak that it slowly begins to degenerate until it ruptures, sometimes without any extraneous activity.

Treatments

There are several surgical options for repairing a ruptured CCL. Our vet opted for a procedure that involves using artificial suture fibers (he likened it to fishing line) to reconstruct her ligament. He used this synthetic material to weave between the lower outside part of our dog’s femur (the bone above the knee) and the upper inside part of her tibia (the bone below the knee), creating a manmade cranial cruciate ligament.

The other surgical options are called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).

There are cases where surgery is not an option. If a dog is elderly, has a condition that inhibits healing, or is afflicted with another complicating factor, then a combination of medical treatment, restricted activity and physical therapy may be the best route.

For an overweight dog, it’s important to take steps to reduce his body weight. Feed a high quality dog food like CANIDAE, and make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise.

Recovery

This is where things get tricky, especially if you have more than one dog in your home. After a dog undergoes any of the surgical options for a torn CCL, she must stay completely inactive for a minimum of two weeks. She can only go outside to relieve herself. At around the two week mark, most dogs will do what our vet calls “toe touching,” which means the dog will tap the toe of the hurt leg to the ground and slowly begin putting a bit of weight on it. Our dog isn’t quite there yet. She will occasionally tap her toe to the ground, but most of the time she just hops around on three legs. She’s become amazingly adept at this.

We were told to restrict Frosty to short leash walks for six more weeks to allow complete healing. Because Frosty and our other dog Al are active and like to wrestle, it’s been difficult to keep them from playing around – but we were strictly warned. Limited activity is important in order to avoid damaging the surgical correction.

Prognosis

Our vet thinks Frosty’s prognosis is good if we constrain her activity. We will also continue to massage her knee and perform gentle rehabilitation exercises.

A ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is a serious issue and requires a lot from the pet owners and the pet. However, if you follow your vet’s advice to the letter, your furry friend should be back on all fours in due time. Wish us luck!

Photos by Langley Cornwell

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Who is the Dog on the Westminster Kennel Club Logo?

By Linda Cole

Any dog lover who has watched the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on TV or viewed one of their programs is familiar with their logo. The dog is a Pointer named Sensation, and was the pride and joy of the kennel club in the organization’s early years. Sensation’s rise to fame began across the pond in England. But why was this particular dog deemed worthy of being immortalized on the club’s logo?

By the late 1800s, New York City was well on its way to becoming the second largest city in the world with around 3.5 million people. The city provided well-to-do citizens with concerts, museums, business opportunities, fine shopping and dining establishments that many poorer residents were excluded from. The Westminster Hotel in Manhattan (which is no longer standing), was a popular place for high society. It was also a favorite hangout for a group of wealthy sporting gentlemen. They met regularly in the hotel’s bar, drinking and telling stories about the abilities of their gun dogs, and bragging about their skill and accomplishments with guns.

During one gathering in 1876, the men decided it would be nice to form a club and have a place where they could kennel their dogs and have a training area. Needing a name for their new club, Westminster was the unanimous choice. The newly formed club purchased land for their kennel and training area, and hired a trainer.

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5 Signs That Your Dog Needs Grooming

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs do some of their own grooming and caring for their coat. You may see them licking dirt off their hair or tugging at foreign matter to remove it with their teeth, but they need your help to keep their coat and nails in optimum condition. Grooming your dog is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Here are five ways you can assist your canine companion with his grooming.

Matted Fur

Matted or tangled hair attracts and traps dirt, pests such as ticks, and debris from playing outside. The matting hampers the natural ability for the coat to do its job of keeping the dog warm in cool months and cooler in hot months. When your dog’s coat is matted, not only does it make him look unkempt and uncared for, it can contribute to poor health by trapping things that can damage the skin and bring disease to your dog.

Some breeds do not require a lot of brushing to keep their coat tangle free, but even those dogs can benefit from regular brushing to remove debris and dirt and to help to keep their coat healthy.

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Can Dogs Recognize Kind-Hearted and Generous People?

By Linda Cole

In the canine world, communication is through yips, growls, barks, and an expert ability to decipher body language. You may not realize your dog watches what you do during social interactions with other people, but just by observing how we treat each other, our canine friends can identify people who might be helpful. A recent study found that dogs can recognize someone who is kind-hearted and generous.

Generosity comes from a Latin word “generosus” which means “of noble birth.” The definition of generosity evolved in the 1600s to mean “a nobility of spirit” which was still associated with people born into the upper class, but it was used to define admirable qualities for an individual person rather than their family history. Generosity eventually evolved sometime in the 1700s to define someone who willingly gives their time, money and possessions to others. Today, we view someone who shows generosity to others as being kind-hearted and helpful – a quality dogs can also understand and recognize.

Social eavesdropping is something we all engage in. It might be a conversation heard between two people standing behind you in a line, or an intentional act of listening to a private conversation. People watching is also a form of eavesdropping. We use our people watching skills to make a judgment call, such as deciding which person in a group would be more helpful and friendly.

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Overcoming Ailurophobia (Fear of Cats)

By Julia Williams

Your first thought when reading that title might well have been “A fear of WHAT?” After all, cats are cute, cuddly, and basically harmless, right? How could anyone be afraid of a small furry creature like a cat?

Now…Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) – oh heck yes! Just this morning, a spider-like ball of fuzz leapt out of my kitchen cupboard and I just about had a heart attack. Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), Acrophobia (fear of heights) and even Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) also make perfect sense to me.

Ailurophobia (fear of cats), however, is another story. Yet for those who suffer from it, the fear of cats is every bit as intense and real as any other phobia. Ailurophobia may not make a Top Ten Phobias list, but it’s actually fairly common.

Phobias are defined as a persistent, extreme and irrational fear of something. Phobias are considered a type of anxiety disorder; exposure to a feared object, activity or situation can cause sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, loss of breath, dry mouth, incoherence and panic attacks.

Ailurophobia then, is an intense feeling of fear at the sight of a cat, whether that’s in person, on TV or in a photo. In extreme cases, just thinking about a cat – or even a kitten – can cause a reaction. A person with Feline Phobia might understand intellectually that the tiny, purring ball of fur poses no real danger, but they react to the stimuli nonetheless.

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How to Get the Most Out of Dog Walks

By Langley Cornwell

Springtime is right around the corner, and the weather will be ideal for spending more time outside walking with your dog. You wouldn’t think walking a dog could be overly complicated. You just strap on a leash and head out the door, right? Well, not exactly. If you want the walk to be safe and relaxing for you and satisfying for your dog, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Bring the Necessities

If you’re going for a walk in warm weather or if you’re planning to be outside for a while, bring along a bottle filled with enough water for you and your dog to drink.

Also, bring along some high value dog treats like CANIDAE Bakery Snacks. Dog walks are a great time to brush up on your dog’s obedience skills; stop at random times to practice basic sits, downs and stays. If you’re working on new tricks, being outside is a good time to practice them because of the additional distractions. What’s more, the added fun of working on skills (and getting treats!) will further reinforce for your dog how enjoyable walks can be.

Don’t forget some type of poop bags. It’s a good idea to bring extras, just in case.

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