Dogs are usually pretty playful and adventurous which can lead to the occasional injury. Here, our Westfield vets talk about ACL injuries in dogs, how they happen and how surgery can be used to help get them moving again.
The Similarities Between the ACL and Dog CCL
In order to move your knee there is a small piece of connective tissue referred to as the ACL. 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 while not exactly the same, the CCL in dogs is similar to the human ACL.
The main difference between a dog's knee and a human knee is that in dogs, the knee is constantly bent which results in them being load-bearing at all times.
Symptoms of ACL Injuries in Dogs
Some of the most commonly seen symptoms of ACL injuries in dogs include:
- Stiffness (typically most noticeable after rest, following exercise).
- Difficulty rising and jumping.
- Hind leg lameness and limping.
When your dog has sustained an injury you will need to get them to relax and call your vet to book 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. If your dog has an ACL injury and you don't bring them in as soon as possible for treatment it could lead to injury to the other knees.
Treatment For Dog ACL Injuries
There are a variety of potential treatments for ACL injuries in dogs. 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.
When it comes to treating an ACL injury in dogs, the most common forms of treatment are:
Knee Brace For Stabilization
Depending on the severity of the injury, your vet may be able to recommend a non-invasive treatment method such as stabilization using a knee brace. These are designed to help hold the knee and connective tissues in place throughout 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
For this surgical procedure, the torn ligament will be replaced with an artificial ligament. 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.
ACL Surgery For a Dog's Torn CCL
It will take time for your dog to heal after suffering from 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.