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ACL in Dogs

ACL in Dogs

Dogs love to run and play which means that there is always a risk of them hurting themselves in some way. Commonly these injuries happen to their legs. Here, our Cumming vets talk about what happens when a dog has an ACL injury and what the different treatment options are.

Life After an ACL Injury - What Happens When a Dog Damages Their CCL?

Just like your ACL, dogs have connective tissue in their knee called 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.

When looking at the different between a human's ACL and a dog's CCL, the main difference is that a dog's knee bends the opposite way making it load-bearing at all times.

Symptoms of a Torn ACL in Dogs

The signs and symptoms that typically point to an ACL injury include:

  • Stiffness (typically most noticeable after rest, following exercise).
  • Difficulty rising and jumping.
  • Hind leg lameness and limping.

If you think that your dog has suffered from an ACL injury then you should put them on crate rest as soon as possible and call your vet to book an examination.

So here comes another common question that we are asked, 'Can a dog live with a torn ACL?'. The answer is that 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. So while a dog will 

How will the vet treat your dog's ACL injury?

Your vet may recommend one of a few different treatment options if they have a torn ACL. 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.  

The most common treatments for ACL injuries in dogs include:

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

With this surgical procedure, an artificial ligament will be used as a replacement for the torn or damaged one. 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 happens after ACL surgery in dogs?

You will need to expect an intense recovery period after your dog is treated for 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.

Is your dog showing signs of a torn ACL or other leg injury? Contact our Cumming vets to schedule an examination.

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