Veterinary Knee Care in the Bay Area

The Importance of Keeping Your Dog’s Knees Healthy

Our dogs are constantly moving, running, and playing. Everyday activities strain their joints just as going on a daily run with strain your own. Optimizing your dog’s joint health can prevent arthritis and will not only improve their quality of life, but can also contribute to their actual lifespan. The best way to promote a healthier lifestyle for your pet is to encourage their mobility by staying active with them. Going for daily walks, playing fetch, running and enjoying the great outdoors together are all positive ways to be healthier together.

However, life in the great outdoors is full of surprises. Sometimes dogs can be so excited to explore the world around them that they trip, fall, or experience an injury. If you’ve noticed that your dog is limping after a camping trip, hike, or simply running around in the yard, it is important to have your pet examined sooner rather than later. Allowing the problem to go undiagnosed can cause more chronic problems to develop, such as arthritis.

Determining the Best Way Forward

We all we want our dogs to live full, happy, long lives. This means protecting their health and addressing concerns as they arise. There is value in seeking the professional opinion of a veterinary specialist, who will be able to offer their knowledge and expertise to help you decide how to best care for your dog. In some cases, medication or physical therapy will be sufficient to treat your dog’s discomfort and restore them to optimal health. In others, surgery may be required, which can be determined through diagnostic testing and examination.

While some may encourage caretakers to wait and see how the ailment progresses, at Beacon, we don’t believe that it is wise to prolong your pet’s discomfort, which minimizes their mobility and allows more chronic problems to arise. At Beacon, we invite you to bring your dog for a preliminary visit, at which time our orthopedic specialist can determine the best way forward alongside you, involving you in the decision-making process by thoroughly answering your questions, addressing concerns, and ultimately putting your dog on the path to a full recovery.

My Dog Needs Surgery…What Happens Next?

If it is determined by us or by your primary care veterinarian that your dog needs surgery, surgery is a commonly used, reliable treatment option in many cases. Performing this procedure and subsequent rehabilitation will restore your dog’s knee stability and prevent knee cartilage from wearing down, which could cause pain and immobility. At Beacon, we will not only provide a thorough, pre-surgical consultation with our surgical team to explain the entire procedure, but also discuss a comprehensive care plan to ensure that your dog’s recovery is set up for success. Our orthopedic specialist will be able to offer a full explanation of what the surgery entails and how it is performed, providing visual aids and actual data from previous cases to illustrate the entire process. We will point out the safety measures put in place to put both you and your dog at ease, as well as a timeline for the day of the procedure, so you know exactly what to expect. Our goal is to offer complete transparency and allow you to arrive on the day of surgery with full confidence and without any questions left unanswered.

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What Will the Recovery Process Look Like?

While you will be provided with at-home recovery and rehabilitation plans, Beacon also offers on-site rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation is customized to meet the individual needs of your dog, and our team is with you every step of the way to help get your dog back to feeling like their best, most playful self. At Beacon, we have extensive experience working with dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds, so we can uniquely determine the most optimal post-procedural care plan for your dog. This part of the journey is like recess for your dog…they may even meet some friends along the way!

What Should You Look for When Researching this Treatment?

To ensure your pet is getting the best possible care, be sure to look for these distinguishing factors when selecting a treatment provider:

  1. Board-Certified Surgeon
  2. Pre-Procedure consultation with the surgeon who will conduct a full orthopedic examination to ensure that your pet is receiving the most appropriate treatment options and who can fully explain the processes, what to expect post-surgery, discuss projected recovery, etc.
  3. Advanced anesthesia and pain management protocols and monitoring to ensure safety and inclusivity of all breeds and ages
  4. Regular updates throughout your pet’s hospitalization
  5. 24/7 veterinary care for post-operative recovery, including continuous staff availability in case of questions or concerns
  6. Coordinated transition from surgical recovery to physical rehabilitation and a return to full function

What Sets Our Standard of Care Apart?

Pre-Procedural Consultation

Prior to surgery, your pet will have an appointment with our board-certified surgeon who will perform a full orthopedic evaluation to achieve a definitive diagnosis and to offer a step-by-step, informative view of exactly what will take place. The surgeon will explain what procedure they are recommending and why, offering visual aids such as diagrams and videos to provide a clearer understanding of the process and projected goal of the procedure. Our goal is to ensure that you fully understand your pet’s treatment options and that you have all of your questions answered before making the most informed decision.

Elevated Support Staff Experience

Our veterinary anesthetists undergo specialized training and utilize advanced monitoring equipment and pain management protocols to ensure they are providing optimal care during surgery and maximizing your pet’s comfort. For pets of advanced age or with underlying health conditions, a certified Veterinary Technician Specialist is available. In this way, your pet is provided with a level of veterinary care unrivaled by most other veterinary hospitals.

Post-Procedure Support (patient & client)

Our doctors and staff regularly follow-up post-surgery to ensure the recovery process is going well. We schedule a two-week appointment following the procedure for an assessment with our certified physical rehabilitation technician, to discuss a thorough and individualized rehabilitation plan for your pet. Our staff is available to you both during and after the procedure, answering any questions that may arise at any time of day (or night) and offering peace of mind as recovery progresses.

On-Site Rehabilitation Available 

We take an integrative approach to surgery and recovery. Rehabilitation is available on-site and is both optional and customizable. At the time of your pet’s two-week post-operative appointment, our certified physical rehabilitation technician will assess your pet’s progress and customize recovery and conditioning plan. In some cases, physical therapy is only electively necessary, and our staff will create a plan that you can conduct with your pet at home. In others, we will recommend an on-site program that involves improving range of motion, addresses any muscle atrophy, and results in the best possible outcome.

At Beacon, we understand that a significant factor in choosing orthopedic surgery for your pet includes cost. We want to make that process as simple and straightforward as possible. Our “price bundling” initiative takes out all the guesswork. At your pet’s pre-surgery examination, our staff will go over the cost breakdown with you, offering complete transparency about what services compromise the total cost. With no hidden fees or surprises, our clients know that the price they are quoted will be the price they pay. 

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Success Stories

Tryxxie Maliksi

Age: 5 Month Old
Breed: Pomeranian
Procedure: Grade IV Patella Luxation Correction

Tryxxie was adopted at 10 weeks of age after being diagnosed with a severe deformity of her left rear leg. A previous veterinarian initially suggested amputation as the only option for giving her a good quality of life. Her caretakers knew that they wanted to give her a fighting chance, and so they brought her to Beacon. Tryxxie's new family consulted with Dr. Fitch, who performed the surgery that both corrected her massively abnormal patella alignment and created a new groove for it within her VERY tiny leg. (At the time of surgery, she weighed only one pound!) He was not only able to preserve her limb, but restored her to an incredible quality of life! Tryxxie has been visiting us for weekly rehabilitation ever since, and is an absolute miracle dog!

Tryxxie's caretakers have enjoyed experiencing the "accommodating, professional and courteous nature" of the environment at Beacon. They have been so impressed with the overall caring demeanor of our surgical and rehabilitation teams, going so far as to refer to our rehabilitation manager, Amy, as "like a daughter" to them. We are so proud to witness Tryxxie's amazing recovery, and so honored to be a part of her family!

Charlie Rivera

Age: 11 Months Old
Breed: Husky
Procedure: Patella Luxation Correction and Extracapsular Repair

Charlie first came to us from Central Veterinary Hospital for intermittent lameness on his left rear limb. He was struggling to put weight on that limb and was noticeably favoring his right one. Dr. Fitch diagnosed him with a cruciate injury and medial luxating patella, both of which were corrected through surgery. Charlie experienced a normal recovery, but struggled with regaining strength in his previously injured limb on his own and through exercises at home.

About 2 months after surgery, Charlie came to us for rehab therapy with "Auntie Amy," our rehab manager, to help strengthen his leg in a controlled environment and ensure that the surgery was an overall and lasting success. Charlie did phenomenally well with his rehabilitation program, supplement his time at Beacon with more exercises at home. The results were, according to his human, Sheila: " nothing happened to him!"

Charlie excelled and experienced a complete return to normal functionality of his limb. He is back to running, jumping and playing with his big brother, Rio, like the bright and spirited puppy that he always was!

Loki Borog

Age: 3 Years Old
Breed: Lab Mix
Procedure: Bilateral TPLO

Loki comes from an active and adventurous family, so when he came to us with a bilateral hind limb weakness that worsened with exercise, his caretakers were eager to move forward with restoring his quality of life. Prior to noticing that he was limping, Loki sent a lot of time outdoors and was highly active, going on long hikes with varied terrain and elevations with his brother, Maui. It was hard for Loki's family to see him in pain, and knew that they wanted to give Loki the chance to live his best life once again. After finding us online and researching both us and our orthopedic specialist, Dr. Fitch, Loki's parents came in to consult with him. Dr. Fitch advised that they move forward with treatment promptly, so as to avoid the onset of eventual arthritis. He answered all of their questions and addressed their concerns, and Loki's parents were reassured by his confidence and felt "at ease" by his thorough approach. Loki had a bilateral TPLO surgery at Beacon, followed by a comprehensive rehabilitation program designed specifically for him to restore mobility and rebuild his muscles.

Loki's parents found Dr. Fitch's professionalism and meticulous approach to surgical care "incredible." Loki's "mom" is a veterinary technician herself, and commented that she and her partner "really appreciate the transparency" that he offered, and recalled feeling relieved knowing "exactly what's going to happen." They also credit "a huge part of Loki's recovery" to the care he experienced in his post-operative rehabilitation. They were touched that Amy, our rehabilitation manager, took the time to build a relationship with him, remembering that it "just made us feel so good that he's in such good hands." Today, we are happy to report that Loki has returned to his previous activity levels and is living a happy, pain-free life from beaches to mountaintops up and down the west coast!