What to Do When Your Small Dog Has Knee Problems

by | Apr 27, 2023 | Dog Health

Large dogs are most affected by joint issues, but that doesn’t mean small dogs are spared from their own troubles. Small dogs are just as prone to knee problems, whether it’s a cranial cruciate ligament rupture or patellar luxation.

So, what can you do about it? Read on to find out how to spot knee problems in your small dog, along with some tips to prevent or treat these common knee issues.

What are the Common Types of Small Dog Knee Problems?

While aging canines are more prone to knee problems, dogs of all breeds and sizes can also experience joint conditions in their lifetimes.

Here are the common types of knee conditions among dogs to be aware of:


Luxating Patella

A luxating patella means your dog’s knee cap is out of place or dislocated. It is a common condition among smaller dog breeds, but it’s also possible to acquire after a severe accident. Severe cases can lead to a cranial cruciate ligament tear or torn ACL.



Arthritis is the inflammation of a dog’s joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Older and obese dogs are especially at risk of suffering from this condition, but it may also develop in young pups and small dogs due to joint and bone development complications.


Torn CCL or ACL

One of the most common knee injuries is a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which develops from the repetitive stress of daily jumping and running, especially among hyperactive small dogs. Partial tearing can cause additional pressure on the knees, making it difficult for your dog to walk.


Symptoms of Knee Problems in Small Dogs

So, how do you know if your dog is experiencing any of these issues? Here are the telltale signs to look out for to determine whether your dog is experiencing knee problems:

  • Limping
  • Sitting in an abnormal position
  • Not bearing weight on a hind leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Trouble standing up
  • Constant licking
  • Swelling
  • Lameness


How to Prevent Knee Problems in Small Dogs

Small dogs become less flexible as they age because their ligaments and joints succumb to everyday wear and tear. However, there are still ways to prevent your pet from suffering from knee problems for as long as possible. 

Below are some tips to deter knee issues in your small dog:


Maintain a Balanced Diet

Small dogs can get too heavy, and their legs may be too small to support their bodies, resulting in added pressure on their joints. For this reason, you should avoid spoiling your dogs with too many treats and keep them on a healthy, balanced diet.

Adding supplements to their diet also helps strengthen their joints and muscles. Make sure to ask your vet before starting a new diet.


Take Your Dog for a Daily Walk

Another way to reduce your small dog’s risk of developing knee problems is by taking them on a leash walk every day, even for just a few minutes. Doing so allows them to get plenty of exercise to regulate their weight and stretch their joints and muscles.

Simple activities like walking with your pet around your neighborhood or letting it play with other canines can make a huge difference. However, avoid strenuous activities, especially for older dogs, as these may increase their chances of getting injured or developing joint issues.


Declutter Your Home

Excess clutter in your home can be dangerous for small dogs since they may accidentally swallow tiny objects, run into items, and hurt themselves. If you plan to keep your pup indoors more often, you’ll need to organize your space to make it more pet-friendly.

Consider preparing a dedicated space for your canine to move freely without colliding with hard objects or breaking furniture around your house. This solution allows them to safely exercise and play to their heart’s content.


What to Do If Your Dog Suffers From Canine Knee Injuries


Identify the Symptoms

Dogs may not be able to tell you when they’re feeling pain verbally, but their body language can reveal if they’re uncomfortable. For this reason, you should keep a close eye on your dog and see if they begin limping or walking unstable. If so, they may be suffering from a knee problem.


Bring Your Injured Pet to the Vet

The best thing to do if you believe your dog is suffering from a knee injury is to take it to your local veterinarian. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem and suggest possible treatment options, including surgery.


Isolate Your Dog and Restrict Its Activity

Make sure to prevent your injured dog from jumping, running, or performing any other strenuous activities to avoid hurting themselves further or complicating their recovery process. 

Doing so is especially crucial if your pet undergoes surgery, as they’ll need plenty of rest and avoid activities that may hurt their incision site. 


Prevent Your Small Dog From Licking Its Wounds or Affected Joints

Vets usually recommend using e-collars, but recovery sleeves are a great accessory for your pet since they allow your pet to move around and comfortably protects the affected area from dirt and nosocomial infections.

Recovery sleeves can deter your canine from scratching or licking its post-op surgery site or affected joints, allowing it to fend off infections and further injuries.  


Provide a Comfy Space for Your Pup to Rest

It’s normal for your pet to feel weak or groggy after surgery. For this reason, you’ll need to create a quiet and clean place for them to rest and recover. Make sure it’s far away from other pets or children who may disturb them.


Get Your Small Dog Back Up to Speed

Joint conditions can restrict your small dog’s movements and affect its overall well-being. 

But making sure your pet maintains a healthy weight can help prevent knee problems from cropping up. Furthermore, getting them to a vet if you notice any knee problem symptoms ensures a quick recovery. 

Visit the TLPOInfo blog today to discover more helpful tips to take good care of your dogs and their joints.

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