Dogs love to run and they are generally built for it. Unfortunately, those tendons that help them move around can experience injuries that require veterinary care. Today our Rockland County vets talk about ACL injuries in dogs and how they can be treated.
What is my dog's ACL?
As people, we have an ACL which is the connective tissue attached to our knee. Dogs also have a similar tissue, although 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 for a dog this ligament is always load-bearing since your pet's knee is always bent when standing.
The Signs of ACL Injuries in Dogs
Some of the signs that your dog may have injured their CCL 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.
Treating an Injured ACL in Dogs
If your pooch has been diagnosed with a cruciate injury, there are several treatment options available from knee braces to surgery. 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 common types of treatment for this knee injury include:
Stabilization Using a Knee Brace
Treating a CCL injury with a knee brace is a non-surgical option that may help stabilize the knee joint in some dogs. 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.
What to expect from surgery to treat an ACL injury in dogs?
Whichever treatment option your dog undergoes, there will be an extensive period of recovery afterward. 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.