Athletes often suffer from ACL injuries but due to the anatomy of your dog's leg this painful knee injury is also very common in dogs. Today our Dunnellon Animal Hospital vets explain ACL injuries, and ACL surgery for dogs to help restore your pup's pain-free mobility.
The ACL in Humans & The CCL in Dogs
In people, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a thin connective tissue in the middle of our knees.
In dogs, this connective tissue is called the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) and it connects your pet's tibia (bone below the knee) to their femur (bone above the knee). So, although there are differences, the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) could be considered your dog's ACL.
That said, because your dog's leg is always bent when they are standing the cranial cruciate ligament is load-bearing - which a person's ACL is not.
Differences Between ACL Injuries in People and CCL Injuries in Dogs
ACL injuries in people are very common in both professional and amature athletes such as basketball and soccer players. In people, these injuries tend to occur due to acute trauma resulting from a sudden movement such as a jump or change of direction.
In dogs however, these injuries most often occur gradually, becoming progressively worse over time with activity until a tear occurs and your dog's mobility is significantly affected.
Signs That Your Dog May Have an ACL Injury
The most common signs of an ACL injury in dogs include:
- Stiffness that is most noticeable after rest, following exercise.
- Difficulty rising up off of the floor and jumping.
- Hind leg pain, lameness and limping.
Continued activity on a minimally injured leg will typically cause the injury to become more severe and symptoms to become more pronounced.
If your dog is suffering from a single torn ACL you may notice that they begin favoring the non-injured leg during activity. This often leads to the injury of the second knee. Approximately 60% of dogs with a single ACL injury will go on to injure the other knee soon afterwards.
Treatment For ACL Injuries in Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with a cruciate injury, there are a number of treatment options available ranging from knee braces to a selection of surgical options. When determining the best treatment for your dog's ACL injury, your veterinarian will take your dog's age, size and weight into consideration as well as your pup's lifestyle and energy level.
Types of ACL Surgery For Dogs & Treatments
- Treating an ACL injury with a knee brace 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 an ACL injury in your dog using a knee brace may be successful if 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 and medium breeds weighing less than 50lbs.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO
- TPLO is a very effective orthopedic surgery that works to eliminate the need for your dog's cranial cruciate ligament (ACL) by cutting and flattening the tibial plateau, 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.
Recovery from ACL Surgery
Whichever treatment you choose for your dog recovery from an ACL injury is a long process. Expect your pooch to require 16 weeks or longer to return to relatively normal functioning. A year after surgery your dog should be running and jumping like their old self again.
To avoid re-injury after your dog's ACL surgery be sure to follow your vet's instructions closely and attend regular follow-up appointments so that your vet can monitor your pup'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.