Viticus Group Blog

5 Tips for Examining a Cruciate Tear

Posted by Abby Crimm

Here are some little-known tips for examining a common orthopedic issue—the cruciate tear.

Veterinarians receive basic orthopedic training, but sometimes the most common cases can be tricky or need a more thorough examination. Here, we'll talk about 5 tips for specific situations requiring orthopedic care.

Joint issues are seen as the most common problem, especially cruciate tears in dogs. The reason why cruciate tears are so difficult is that 50% of tears are partial tears, and when the examiner checks for instability, the leg will appear completely stable despite it being partially torn. Here are 5 tips for what to consider in examining and treating a cruciate tear:

  1. Gait Exam — Take the time to do a gait exam. If the dog walks too fast to tell which leg is lame, take a video on your phone and watch it frame by frame.
  2. How the Dog Sits – Watch the dog as it sits. When the dog does not sit square but has one of the rear legs out to the side, it is a key indicator that the dog may have a cruciate tear.
  3. Size and Age Doesn’t Matter – A common misconception is that cruciate tears only happen in older, overweight dogs. In fact, it happens in dogs of all sizes and breeds. It especially happens to immature dogs, before 1 year of age, and in large dogs, 1 to 4 years of age. Don’t discount a cruciate tear because it’s a young and athletic dog.
  4. If One Tears, Another Will Follow – If there is a tear in one leg, it is highly probable that they tear another leg. It would be wise to pay careful attention and to explain this to the client.
  5. Don’t Wait for a Full Tear – It is often thought that a partial tear doesn’t need to be treated until it becomes a full tear. However, even in a partial tear the dog develops arthritis. It is better to treat a partial tear and have less arthritis and better functioning for the rest of the dog’s life.

All that is needed is a little hands-on training, and everyone knows that veterinary school is only the start to a veterinarian’s education. That’s why Viticus Group offers CE courses where participants can learn in a hands-on environment and come away with real practical knowledge.

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