Hi! Today I would like to talk about muscle atrophy in dogs, especially with CCL injuries. One of the biggest muscles in the body is the thigh muscle, which is needed in order to have full range of motion with the hind legs.
Without this muscle, we would be unable to completely lift our leg up and take a normal step. Dog’s that have an injury atrophy quickly. This is why it is really important to keep our patients active, while still letting the knee injury stabilize. With bracing, we are still able to place full weight on the thigh muscle, which may become sore initially, however, then we can start building this muscle back up, keeping it healthy.
This is another reason bracing can be better for patients than surgery, as with surgery there is a long period where you will need to confine your dog to keep them from hurting the surgical site. In the 8 weeks it takes to recover with surgery, there can be significant atrophy that sets in.
This is another reason that we include physical therapy with our patients, and walking schedules, to keep our dogs active, and using those muscles.
With dogs that have severe atrophy, say you waited too long, we may need the help of hydrotherapy to really get that thigh muscle back. You may also need the help of a sling or a harness that includes handles as well, so that you can help your dog walk initially, until we start getting strength back in the thigh muscle. Our technicians are happy to help you with this, and with time we can get the muscles back.