Some of our favorite athletes will suffer from ACL injuries over the course of their careers, but did you know that your dog could also experience a very similar knee injury? In today's post, our Matthews vets share a little about the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) and how injuries to it require something like ACL surgery for dogs to treat it.
The ACL in Humans Is Equivalent To 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, one main difference between a person's ACL and your pup's CCL is that for dog's this ligament is load-bearing because their knee is always bent when they are standing.
ACL Injuries in People and CCL Injuries in Dogs Are Not Exactly The Same
ACL injuries in people are very common in athletes such as basketball and soccer players. These injuries tend to occur in humans due to an acute trauma resulting from a sudden movement such as a jump or change of direction.
In dogs, CCL injuries tend to occur gradually, becoming progressively worse with activity, until a tear occurs and your dog's mobility is severely affected.
Signs That Your Dog May Need Torn ACL Surgery
If your dog is experiencing a CCL injury you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Stiffness (typically most noticeable after rest, following exercise).
- Difficulty rising and jumping.
- Hind leg lameness and limping.
Continued activity on a mildly injured leg will cause the injury to worsen and symptoms to become more pronounced.
If your dog is suffering from a single torn CCL 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 CCL injury will soon go on to injure the other knee.
Treatment For CCL Injuries in Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with a cruciate injury, you may be considering ACL surgery for your dog. There are a number of options available when it comes to treating this knee injury in our canine companions. When determining the best treatment for your pup's injury, your vet will take your dog's age, size, and weight into consideration as well as your pup's energy level and lifestyle.
ACL Surgery For Dogs - Treatments for CCL Injuries
Below we look at the three main types of surgery for ACL injuries in dogs as well as the knee brace option.
- Treating a CCL 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 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 50lbs.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO
- TPLO is a popular and extremely effective orthopedic surgery that works to eliminate the need for the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) 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 and your vet decide is best for your pooch recovery from an ACL injury is a long process. Expect your dog to require 16 weeks or longer to return to normal running and jumping. A year after surgery your dog should be completely back to normal again.
In order to avoid re-injury following surgery be sure to follow your veterinarian's post-surgery 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.