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ACL in Dogs

Many of us are aware that athletes frequently fall victim to ACL injuries, but due to the anatomy of your dog's leg, this painful knee injury is also very common in dogs. Our Staten Island vets explain the symptoms of ACL injuries in dogs, and the surgeries used to treat this condition. 

Human's ACL vs Dog's CrCL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a thin connective tissue in the middle of our human knees.

This connective tissue is known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) in dogs, and it connects your pet's tibia (bone beneath the knee) to its femur (bone above the knee). While there are some distinctions between the ACL of humans and the CrCL of dogs, the cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) is commonly regarded as the ACL of dogs.

One crucial difference between a person's ACL and your dog's CrCL is that in a dog this ligament is load-bearing. This is because their knee is always bent while they are standing. 

Differences Between ACL Injuries in People and CrCL Injuries in Dogs

ACL injuries are very common in athletes such as basketball players and soccer players. These injuries commonly occur in humans as a result of acute trauma caused by a sudden movement such as a jump or change of direction.

In dogs, ACL injuries tend to occur gradually, becoming progressively worse with the activity until a tear occurs and your dog's mobility is affected. 

Signs of a Dog ACL Injury

The most common signs of an ACL injury in dogs include:

  • 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 will quickly become more pronounced.

If your dog has a single torn ACL, you may notice them favoring the non-injured leg during activity. This frequently results in a second knee injury. It is estimated that 60% of dogs who sustain a single ACL injury will later injure the second knee.

Dog ACL Surgery & Treatments

If your dog has an ACL injury, there are several treatment options available, ranging from knee braces to surgery. Your veterinarian will consider your dog's age, size, and weight, as well as his or her lifestyle and energy level when determining the best treatment for your pup's injury.

When it comes to ACL surgery for dogs there are several options available, however, when it comes to non-surgical treatments for dog ACL injuries total crate rest combined with pain medications and knee braces are the only options.

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 only recommended for small to medium-sized breeds weighing less than 50lbs. 

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO

  • TPLO is a popular and very successful orthopedic surgery that works to eliminate the need for the cranial cruciate ligament 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 cranial cruciate 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.

Dog Knee Brace

  • If you're wondering if a dog can live with a torn ACL, 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 CrCL injuries through the use of a knee brace may be successful in some dogs when combined with restricted activity. 

Dog ACL Surgery Recovery

Whatever treatment you choose for your dog's ACL injury recovery, it will be a lengthy process. Expect your dog to be unable to function normally for at least 16 weeks. Your dog should be running and jumping like its old self about a year after surgery.

To avoid re-injury following ACL surgery for dogs, be sure to follow your veterinarian's instructions closely and attend regular follow-up appointments so that your vet can monitor your dog's recovery progress.

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 pooch in need of ACL dog surgery? Call our Aadobe Animal Hospital vets to book an examination for your canine companion.

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Aadobe Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Staten Island companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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