Ask the Vet

Herding Dogs Need Extra Care for Their Joints

It's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about joint supplements as dogs age. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)


Our Border Collie was working cows and I heard her yelp. She came back carrying her right, rear leg. It does not seem to be broken, and I don't see any cuts or scrapes. What could have happened?


She could have gotten kicked or stepped on and bruised, but there could also be more serious issues. She really needs to be checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible. She could have pulled a toenail and that can be very painful, but a pretty simple fix.

Without examining her, I can only guess at what could be going on. But one of the most common injuries we see in these athletic dogs is a torn cruciate ligament. Just like people, dogs have two cruciate ligaments in the knee that keep the stifle (knee joint) stable and in alignment. And, just like in people, cruciate ligaments can rupture from trauma or wear out with age and break like a frayed rope. Either way it leads to a tear of the meniscus or pad in the joint which will tend toward arthritis without proper treatment.

There are several surgical options that will give very good results and return your dog to her normal activity in most cases, but surgery cannot be delayed. Get her to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Hopefully it is an easy fix.


Editor's Note:

Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd or other animals. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.

Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask the Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email