Vet Blog

Treatment Options for a Torn ACL in Dogs

July 20, 2020

Has your dog suddenly started experiencing lameness in one hind leg?

It could be due to a torn knee ligament. A torn ACL in dogs (actually their CCL) is a very common injury. In addition to lameness, other symptoms include sitting abnormally, swelling of the knee, and stiffness or clicking sounds while walking. If you have noticed any of these symptoms, bring your dog to Animal Care Center of Castle Pines for a complete physical examination.

Rupture of the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)

A torn ACL in dogs is actually a torn CCL or cranial cruciate ligament. Although this ligament performs a similar function to the ACL in humans, a dog's anatomy is a little bit different. The CCL connects the back of the femur to the front of the tibia and stabilizes the knee joint. Rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament is a serious condition that could permanently hinder your dog's mobility. Large breeds such as Labradors, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers are the most susceptible, but any size of dog can suffer a knee injury.

Causes of CCL Ruptures (Torn ACL) in Dogs

In younger dogs, a torn CCL might be the result of a traumatic injury, while older dogs suffer CCL tears due to wear on their ligaments over time. Young, athletic dogs who engage in occasional strenuous exercise often fall victim to CCL ruptures. However, because the knee ligaments slowly deteriorate as a dog ages, even minor trauma can cause serious injury in older dogs. Due to the degenerative nature of the condition, CCL ruptures commonly affect both knee joints. If your dog ruptures the CCL in one knee, the other knee will likely be affected as well.

Treating a Torn ACL in Dogs

Can a torn ACL heal on its own? Although dogs can recover from a partial CCL tear without surgery, they will likely suffer from bone spurs, pain, and decreased range of motion. The only way to completely resolve lameness and the pain caused by an ACL tear is through TPLO surgery. Without surgery, the knee joint will be more susceptible to degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Your veterinarian at Animal Care Center will determine the best course of treatment for your dog and guide you through the recovery process.

TPLO Surgery

Because of its high success rate, TPLO surgery has become the treatment of choice for the majority of dogs who experience an ACL tear. A Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO surgery, stabilizes the knee and permanently reduces stress on the joint. When compared with dogs who receive any other procedure, dogs who undergo TPLO surgery recover more quickly and get back on all four feet sooner. TPLO surgery decreases muscle atrophy, speeds up the healing of the bone, and reduces the risk of developing arthritis.

Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

Some dogs take up to six months to return to their normal level of activity after suffering a CCL rupture. The most essential part of the post-TPLO surgery healing process is restricting your dog's movement. Too much activity can lead to delayed healing, soft tissue injury, or implant breakage. In-hospital rehabilitation at Animal Care Center will give your dog the best chance of a full recovery. Our committed rehabilitation team will help you every step of the way and guide you through the recovery process post-surgery.

Does Your Dog Need TPLO Surgery in Colorado?

A torn ACL in dogs should always be promptly treated by an experienced vet. If you have noticed any lameness or signs of a torn ACL/CCL in your dog, contact Animal Care Center of Castle Pines to schedule an examination. We offer comprehensive medical care and diagnostics, advanced pain management, surgery, rehabilitation, and many other important services to ensure your pet's health and wellness. Call us at (303) 688-3660 or visit our website to schedule an appointment today. With the right treatment from our dedicated veterinarians, your dog can make a full recovery.