A dog's cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), often referred to as the dog's ACL, works much the same as a human's ACL and helps the dog's knee function correctly. If your dog has a torn ACL, your Rockland County vet may recommend TPLO surgery to repair the issue.
What is the CCL, Cruciate, or ACL in dogs?
The cruciate ligaments are two bands of fibrous tissue located within each knee joint. They join the femur and tibia (the bones above and below the knee joint) together so that the knee works as a stable, hinged joint.
Unlike the ACL in people, in dogs, the cruciate ligament is load-bearing because a dog's leg remains bent while they are standing. If your dog's cruciate becomes injured or torn, your dog's knee will become unstable, reducing your pup's ability to run and walk normally and causing pain.
What are the signs of a CCL injury in dogs?
Symptoms of a cruciate injury in dogs can appear acute or progressive. They can be injured suddenly from jumping or turning the wrong way too quickly or they can slowly degenerate as a dog ages before eventually rupturing completely. The most common signs of a cruciate injury in dogs include:
- Hind leg lameness and limping
- Stiffness after rest, following exercise
- Swelling around the knee
- Difficulty rising and jumping
If your dog has a mildly injured cruciate but continues activities such as long walks, running, or jumping, the injury will become more severe and symptoms will become increasingly more pronounced.
Contact your vet if your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above. Many dogs with a single torn cruciate will go on to injure the other hind leg soon afterward, leading to severe mobility issues and pain for your pet.
TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy Surgery
If your dog is suffering from a torn cruciate, our Rockland County vets may recommend TPLO or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery to treat the injury.
TPLO surgery eliminates the need for the cranial cruciate ligament by reconfiguring the knee.
The process involves making a cut through the tibia from front to back, then rotating the top section (the tibial plateau) backward until the angle between the tibia and femur is appropriately level. Once the tibial plateau is in the desired position a metal plate is attached to the bone to help stabilize the two sections while they heal.
Recovery from TPLO Surgery in Dogs
While many dogs will be able to walk on the leg as soon as 24 hours after surgery, (and most will be bearing moderate amounts of weight on the leg within 2 weeks) recovery from a cruciate injury takes time. Full recovery takes approximately 12-16 weeks and dogs should wait 6 full months and receive veterinary clearance before attempting any strenuous exercise or activities.
Following your veterinarian's post-operative instructions will help your dog to avoid re-injuring the leg while it is healing. Your dog should not jump or run after TPLO surgery until the knee has had adequate time to heal.
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.