The 5 W’s of Pet Orthopedic Surgery: Dive Into the How, When, Why, Where, and Who

Orthopedic issues are common in pets, affecting their quality of life and overall health. As a responsible pet owner, understanding the ins and outs of pet orthopedic surgery is invaluable. In this article, we’ll explore the 5 W’s of pet orthopedic surgery to help you make informed decisions about your pet’s health.

The Who: Which pets may require orthopedic surgery?

Dogs and cats, just like humans, can experience orthopedic issues that affect their musculoskeletal system. These problems can occur for various reasons, including genetics, breed predispositions, accidents, and wear and tear from daily activities. Common orthopedic conditions in dogs and cats include hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament disease, patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, and fracture repairs. Pets with these conditions, especially when severe, may require orthopedic surgery for improved quality of life and long-term health benefits.

The What: Types of orthopedic surgeries

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease (CCLD) Surgery

CCLD is similar to an ACL injury in humans and can cause lameness and pain in affected pets. Surgical options for treating CCLD include the lateral fabello-tibial suture and Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), both of which help to provide stability to the affected knee.

Patellar Luxation Surgery

A patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap becomes dislocated. Surgery can help restore the proper alignment and function of the knee joint, reducing pain and disability in affected pets.

Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Hip dysplasia involves improper development of the hip joint, which can lead to arthritis and pain. Pets with hip dysplasia may benefit from several surgical options, including juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS), double pelvic osteotomy (DPO), femoral head and neck excision (FHNE), or total hip replacement (THR).

Elbow Dysplasia Surgery

Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of forelimb lameness in dogs. Treatment options depend on the specific form of elbow dysplasia present and may include medical management, arthroscopic surgery, or corrective osteotomies.

Shoulder OCD Surgery

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) affects the cartilage in the joint, causing inflammation and pain. This condition is most commonly found in the shoulder joint. A minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure can remove the damaged cartilage and alleviate discomfort.

When considering pet orthopedic surgery, it’s essential to choose a facility with experienced and skilled staff. Facilities such as College Animal Hospital can offer comprehensive care and expertise for pets undergoing orthopedic surgery.

The Why: Benefits and outcomes of pet orthopedic surgery

The primary goal of pet orthopedic surgery is to alleviate pain and restore function, mobility, and quality of life for your pet. By addressing the underlying cause of orthopedic issues, surgery can help prevent further joint damage, improve overall joint health, and enable your pet to maintain an active lifestyle.

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The When: Identifying the right time for orthopedic surgery

Early intervention in young animals with orthopedic issues can help prevent long-term complications and provide the best possible outcome. However, the right time for orthopedic surgery can vary depending on the severity and extent of the problem as well as the age and overall health of your pet. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Also, it’s important to remember that regular vet exams can help detect orthopedic issues early and provide timely intervention, thus maintaining your pet’s overall health and quality of life.

The Where: Choosing the right facility and surgeon

When it comes to choosing the right facility and surgeon for your pet’s orthopedic surgery, it’s crucial to consider factors like expertise, experience, technological advancements, and pre-and post-operative care and support. The surgeon and facility should have the necessary qualifications, skills, and resources to perform the required surgical procedure safely and effectively.

Preparing for pet orthopedic surgery

Pre-operative consultations and tests can help determine the best course of action and prepare both you and your pet for surgery. Preparations may include creating a comfortable and supportive home environment for recovery and understanding the risks and expectations associated with the surgical procedure.

Post-operative care and recovery

Post-operative care plays a vital role in the success of your pet’s orthopedic surgery. Understanding recovery timelines, following proper care techniques, and engaging in physical therapy and rehabilitation can help your pet regain function and return to an active, pain-free lifestyle. Ongoing management of orthopedic conditions may also be necessary to ensure your pet’s long-term health and well-being.


Understanding the 5 W’s of pet orthopedic surgery is essential for pet owners faced with the decision of whether or not to pursue surgery. By carefully considering the who, what, why, when, and where of orthopedic surgery, you can make informed choices about your pet’s health and provide them with the best possible care.