Dogs move around a lot, and while their bodies are made for this, unexpected injuries can occur. These injuries can be as simple as a pulled muscle or more complicated such as a torn ACL. Here, our Kingman vets share the signs of ACL (CCL) injuries in dogs and how they can be treated.
What is the ACL (CCL) in Dogs?
Dogs, like people, have connective tissue attached to their knees. In dogs, however, it is attached differently and referred to as the CCL or cranial cruciate ligament.
This connective tissue connects your pup's tibia (bone below the knee) to their femur (bone above the knee). So, although there are differences, the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is your dog's ACL.
One main difference between a person's ACL and your pup's CCL is that a dog's knee is always bent which means that it is always load-bearing.
Symptoms of a Torn ACL (CCL) in Dogs
Signs of ACL injuries or a torn ACL in dogs are:
- Stiffness (typically most noticeable after rest, following exercise).
- Difficulty rising and jumping.
- Hind leg lameness and limping.
If you are concerned that there may be an injury, you should be sure to keep your dog off their legs as much as possible and make an appointment with the vet right away for an examination.
Dogs suffering from a single torn CCL will typically begin favoring the non-injured leg during activity which commonly leads to the injury of the second knee. More than half of all dogs that have an ACL (CCL) injury will sustain another injury soon afterward.
How Torn ACLs Are Treated
There are a number of different treatment options for dogs with ACL/CCL injuries. When determining the best treatment for your dog's injury, your vet will take your dog's age, size and weight into consideration as well as your pup's lifestyle and energy level.
some of the most common types of treatment are:
Knee Brace Stabilization
Some ACL injuries may be treated or managed in a non-invasive way using knee braces. These are used to stabilize the knee during healing. The support provided by a knee brace gives the ligament time to scar over and repair itself. Treating CCL injuries through the use of a knee brace may be successful in some dogs when combined with restricted activity.
Extracapsular Repair - Lateral Suture
This surgery involves replacing the torn cruciate ligament with an artificial ligament on the outside of the joint. This ACL surgery for dogs is typically recommended for small to medium-sized breeds weighing less than 50 lbs.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
TPLO is a popular and very successful surgery that works to eliminate the need for the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) by cutting and flattening the tibial plateau, and then stabilizing it in a new position with a plate and screws.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
TTA surgery also eliminates the need for the CCL ligament by cutting the top of the tibia, moving it forward, and then stabilizing it in its new position with a stainless steel metal plate.
Surgery For Treating ACL (CCL) Tears in Dogs
You will need to expect an intense recovery period after your dog is treated for a torn ACL. No matter which type of treatment is used, your dog will require 16 weeks or longer to have complete healing and return to normal function. A year after surgery your dog will be running and jumping like their old self again.
To speed your pup's recovery from an ACL injury be sure to follow your vet's advice and never force your dog to do exercises if they resist. To avoid re-injury be sure to follow your vet's instructions closely and attend regular follow-up appointments so that your veterinarian can monitor your pet's recovery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.