Dog Discoveries

I am Your Dog’s Meniscus


You may have never heard about your dog’s meniscus, or you may have heard it the very first time when your vet took an x-ray and noticed some damage to this structure. Truth is, the dog’s meniscus is a body part that lives for the most part in the shadow, but that can awaken abruptly though when it starts to give problems. So today, we’ll be learning more about this structure, it’s function and the symptoms it may cause when dogs are hurting in this area, but as usual, we’ll let the dog’s meniscus do most of the talking.

Introducing The Dog’s Meniscusdog meniscus

Hello, my name is meniscus and I am a”C-shaped” structure found right by your dog’s hind knee, but to be more correct, let’s call it your dog’s stifle. To be exact, I sit right between your dog’s tibia and femur where special ligaments just like seat belts keep me nicely strapped in place.  What does my name mean? Meniscus derives from the ancient Greek word meniskos  which means “lunar crescent.” I likely got my name because my shape closely resembles a half moon. You may be interested in learning that the plural of meniscus is menisci, considering that there are actually two of us by your dog’s tibia: the inner side one is called the “medial meniscus” while the outer side one is called the “lateral meniscus.”

I Act as a Shock Absorber

I am made of porous material but tend to release synovial fluid when I am compressed so that the surface of your dog’s femur and tibia glide together and don’t risk being damaged by friction. My shock absorbing effect therefore allows your dog to romp happily without worrying about those joint structures getting damaged.

When Things Go Wrongdog pain goes away at the vet

When everything goes well, I keep those joints nicely lubricated and your dog romps happily about without ever noticing me. However, sometimes I can give signs of trouble, especially when your dog’s tibia and femur is no longer stable at it should be. This tends to happen when there is some sort of injury to the dog’s anterior cruciate ligament tear that stabilizes the joint. When this happens, I may get wedged in between these unstable parts, which is often seen happening with the medial meniscus which is less mobile compared to the lateral one, explains Ann L. Johnson, Dianne Dunning in the book “Atlas of Orthopedic Surgical Procedures of the Dog and Cat”  Repeated friction of me can therefore lead to the early onset of degenerative joint disease, and if I move about repeatedly, I can also cause damage to the dog’s femur bone. Common signs of damage to me include hind leg pain and lameness in dogs. Stabilizing the joint is therefore key to minimizing damage.

Did you know? According to Douglas H. Slatter, author of the book “Textbook of Small Animal Surgery Volume I, statistically, dogs with a partial ligament tear have quite a low chance for developing meniscus damage; whereas, dogs with complete tears have an 80 percent chance for developing this complication.

I hope this article has helped you understand me better. As seen, I am quite an important structure!  So if your dog’s knee for some reason or another becomes unstable, keep in mind the risk for potential damage to me and neighboring structures. Your dog’s knee and I will thank you! Yours respectfully,

Your Dog’s MeniscusDog Pawprint

Photo Credits;

Dog meniscus damage and tear.Source: By Mysid [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons

Adrienne Farricelli
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