Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries In Dogs

If your dog becomes lame in one of their rear legs, it’s possible that their cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL – which is identical to the ACL in humans – has been ripped or ruptured. The back of the femur (the bone above the knee) and the front of the tibia are connected by this ligament (the bone below the knee). The CCL is in charge of stabilizing the knee joint and maintaining the tibia in place beneath the femur.

CCL injuries in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including exercise, breed, age, and obesity.

Symptoms of Cranial Cruciate Ligament, or CCL Injuries in Dogs

CCL injuries are one of the most common orthopedic problems in dogs.

A dog’s symptoms may range from a hint of lameness to being unable to bear weight on the affected leg, depending on the severity of the CCL injury. Swelling on the inside of the knee may be present in a dog with a CCL injury.

The appearance of the “drawer sign” in dogs is one signs of a torn CCL. The tibia can be moved forward in a way comparable to a drawer sliding open when the veterinarian holds the dog’s femur in place. The absence of the drawer indication, however, does not rule out the possibility of CCL injury.

Your veterinarian will probably take X-rays of your dog’s knee in addition to a complete physical exam to determine the amount of injury and rule out other probable reasons of lameness. X-rays will reveal whether there is any fluid or arthritis in the joint, as well as whether any small bits of bone were broken off when the ligament ruptured.

Dogs At Risk for Torn CCLs

Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, German shepherds, rottweilers, and golden retrievers are among the breeds that are more prone to CCL injuries in dogs.

Obese animals and humans who engage in severe exercise on a regular basis — so-called “weekend warriors” — may be more susceptible to CCL injuries. These chronic problems frequently last for a long time, with the dog gradually becoming more lame as the ligament becomes increasingly injured. However, a dog may show no signs until the ligament ruptures, which can happen with something as simple as a slight misstep.

Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, German shepherds, rottweilers, and golden retrievers are among the breeds that are more prone to CCL injuries.

In addition, some studies have found that 5% of men neutered before the age of 12 months and 8% of females neutered before the age of 12 months experience CCL injuries later in life.

According to studies, around half of dogs who rupture the CCL in one leg will acquire the condition in the opposite leg.

Treatment for CCL Injuries in a Dog

If left untreated, the lameness caused by a partially torn or ruptured CCL in many dogs, especially little ones, can improve or disappear completely within three to six weeks. Regardless, the absence of a healthy CCL causes the bones to rub against one other, resulting in bone spurs, discomfort, arthritis, and a reduced range of motion. These issues are more common in medium- to large-sized dogs.

CCL injuries in dogs weighing less than 30 pounds are usually treated carefully, without operation. Rest and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for six to two months, followed by a gradual exercise regimen and, if obesity is present, weight loss. Degenerative alterations to the knee joint will occur if surgery is not done.

CCL surgery for dogs consists of a variety of methods aimed at restoring joint stability. It may take two to three weeks for your dog to be able to bear weight on the injured leg, depending on the procedure done, and exercise is normally restricted for at least eight weeks to allow adequate healing. It may be necessary to keep your dog in a crate while you are not around to watch their activity throughout the rehabilitation period because keeping your dog quiet can be tough.

Your veterinarian can guide you on how to improve your dog’s rehabilitation by icing his knee and providing modest range-of-motion exercises. Although this is a terrible time for you and your dog, rigorous obedience to your veterinarian’s suggestions will result in the best results and the quickest return to all fours for your best buddy.

Your doctor may suggest stem cell therapy, which is less common than surgery. The cells come from your pet and can be injected into the inflamed area to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and promote the growth of new tissue.

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