ACL injuries that often occur in humans are also common in dogs. In this article, our Orlando vets explain the symptoms of ACL injuries in dogs and the surgeries that can be performed to treat these common knee injuries.
ACL VS CCL
The ACL or, anterior cruciate ligament is a thin connective tissue in the middle of a human's knee.
In dogs, the ACL is called the cranial cruciate ligament or CCL. It connects your pup's tibia to their femur. Although there are differences, the 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.
Differences Between ACL and CCL Injuries
ACL injuries in people are more common in athletes. These injuries tend to occur due to an acute trauma stemming from a sudden movement such as a jump or change of direction. In dogs, CCL injuries tend to come on gradually and not sudden. The injury in your pet may not be obvious at first but will become progressively worse with activity until a tear occurs.
Signs of ACL Injuries in Dogs
The most common signs of a CCL injury in dogs are:
- Difficulty rising and jumping.
- Hind leg lameness and limping.
- Stiffness after rest or following exercise.
Continued activity on a mildly injured leg will cause the injury to worsen and symptoms to become more pronounced and even more severe.
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. The majority of dogs with a single CCL injury will go on to injure the other knee soon afterward.
Treating Injuries of CCL in Dogs
If your pooch has been diagnosed with a CCL injury, there are a number of 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.
One method to treat a CCL injuries in dogs is with a knee brace. This is a non-surgical option that may help to 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 a knee brace may be successful in some dogs when combined with restricted activity.
Extra Capsular Repair - Lateral Suture
Extra capsular Repair is a surgery that 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 50lbs.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO
TPLO is a popular and very successful surgery. This treatment method eliminates the need for the CCL by cutting and flattening the tibial plateau, then stabilizing it in a new position with a plate and screws.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement - TTA
Another way to treat CCL injuries in dogs is with 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.
Recovery from ACL Surgery
Recovering from an injury is always a slow process. Take the time to select the right treatment for your dog. Expect your dog to 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 accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.