What Is Dog Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is also known as the common calcaneal tendon. It got its eponym; the Achilles tendon from a popular Greek mythology story of a hero called Achilles whose mother dipped him in the River Styx making him bulletproof everywhere except from where she held him, his calcaneal tendon. It is commonly used in literary circles to describe a person’s weakest spot. The Achilles tendon of a dog consists of three tendons that insert on the calcaneus (point of the hock).
Large sporting breeds or work dogs are the ones most affected by Achilles tendon injury, especially when they are above five years old. The Doberman Pinscher and Labrador fall within this category.
What causes Achilles tendon injury in dogs?
Achilles tendon injuries are usually in two categories: rupture (tear) or swelling (tendinitis). The most likely cause of a complete rupture is laceration (the tendon coming in contact with a sharp edge). It could also be caused by sudden trauma around the ankle joint or over time due to extreme overuse causing degradation of the tendon. On the other hand, tendinitis is caused by injury or overuse of the Achilles tendon and is characterized by inflammation and pain.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Symptoms include mild to severe hind limb lameness, flat-footed stance, toes curled downward, and swelling. Achilles tendon injury in dogs is usually identified by the vet doctor based on clinical signs and physical exams performed. Radiographs and ultrasounds are usually used to determine the extent and severity of the tear.
Achilles tendon injury treatment
The most successful form of Achilles tendon injury is surgery. Like most injuries and ailments, early detection usually increases the odds of a successful surgery. This is why it is important that you consult your vet doctor when you notice a change in the gait of your dog. Another factor that could make surgery more difficult is if the dog already walks plantigrade as this could mean that much more damage has been done to the affected tendon. Popular surgery procedures include debridement of the Achilles tendon and tendon transfer.
The aftercare of the surgery is another serious factor that could determine the success or otherwise of the surgery.
Dog Achilles tendon surgery cost, including the bandaging and post-operative care between $3,000 and $6,000.
Just like most surgical procedures, a long time is required for the repaired tendon to heal and this long recovery period is very notorious for its severe limitations to daily routines.
A smart and efficient way of reducing recovery time and quickly restoring motion is by considering stem cell therapy. It has been seen to be very effective post-surgery. Not only does stem cell therapy reduce recovery time, but it has also proven successful in restoring motion and drastically reducing pain.
Some Achilles tendon injuries have even responded so well to stem cell therapy that the affected dogs were able to avoid surgery.