Weak in the knees? We can help
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
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If you suspect your pet has a knee issue, it is first important that you take your pet to your veterinarian to get an examination and receive a diagnosis. With all things, in order to correctly help your pet recover, a proper diagnosis is critical.
What causes knee pain and what should I look for?
Knee pain can happen for any number of reasons. Sometimes, genetics comes into play whereas others, there is an injury to blame. I find, most commonly, large breed dogs with excess weight on the joints and/or a sudden burst of energy directed at chasing a certain squirrel is to blame.
Regardless, a knee problem needs to be examined as there are often kneecaps in the wrong place or a ligament that is torn. Undoubtedly, as well, your pet will be walking "weird" such as with a limp, holding their leg up, or in other strange postures in order to avoid the pain of putting weight on their damaged knee.
What can I do to help my pet at home?
The best thing you can start by doing is going to your vet to receive a proper diagnosis. After we know what structure are to blame, we can start doing some at home hands on work to get your pet on the road to recovery.
The best thing you can do preventatively or reactively is start to add a stretching routine. If you know your dog is at risk or even if your pet has already had an injury, you should start doing these stretches! They are fairly simple and are easy to perform with your pet in the side lying position.
PHASE 1: feel better
2. Restoring motion
Once your pet has gotten used the the stretches and you are feeling confident in doing those, add the next layer. Passive stretching helps and feels good, but more we need to get better motion patterns into the knee. This next layer of exercises is going to work on gently getting better motion into the dysfunctional knee and getting the body (and brain) to remember how the joint is supposed to move. Do each exercise about 1-2 sets of 3-5 reps. Make sure to do both sides! In the case of single leg stance, only shift weight onto the weaker knee/lift up the non injured knee.
PHASE 2: move better
After you have completed a week or two of doing the last layer of exercises, then you can start focusing on strengthening the larger muscles of the knee. These exercises are tough and may be physically taxing! (If you don't feel comfortable seeing your pet struggle, it might be a good idea to take them to a professional certified in rehabilitation.) In order of least to most intensity, do the exercises as shown. When standing on a wobble disc, try to hold for 30s-1min and when doing sit to stands or sit pretty, do 1 set of 3-5 reps
PHASE 3: staying strong
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