Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) ruptures are a common orthopedic injury in dogs. Our Ventura vets explain the injury as well as the CCL surgery process that is likely necessary for your dog.
What is a CCL?
The CCL is a connective tissue that connects and stabilizes the lower leg to the upper leg in the knee. It connects a dog's tibia to the femur above, resulting in partial or complete joint instability, pain, and immobility when torn. CCL ruptures occur as a result of a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in a dog's stifle (knee), which is equivalent to the ACL in humans.
How to Identify a CCL Injury in Dogs
When it comes to CCL tears in dogs, 80% are chronic-onset ruptures caused by degeneration and usually occur as a result of aging. This is most common in dogs between the ages of five and seven.
Acute-onset ruptures are most commonly seen in pups four years of age or younger. These tears are caused by injuries a dog will sustain just running around and living their daily lives.
Symptoms of a CCL rupture may include:
- Crepitus (crackling noise of bones rubbing against each other)
- Decreased range of motion
- Hind leg extension while sitting
- Pain when the joint is touched
- Lack of motivation to exercise
- Restricted mobility
- Stiffness after exercising
- Thick/firm feel of the joint
- Weight shifted to one side of the body while standing
- "Pop" sound when walking
If you notice any of the listed symptoms above, contact your vet and schedule an examination for your dog.
There is a chance that dogs under 30 pounds can recover without surgery if they get plenty of rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. This depends on the size of your pet, their overall health, and the severity of your dog's CCL injury.
Your veterinary surgeon will advise you on the best course of action for your dog.
Treatment Via Surgery
CCL surgery is the most common surgery performed in dogs and is estimated to make up about 85% of all orthopedic surgeries performed every year on dogs. Given that this is such a common injury, several procedures have been developed over the years to repair the ligament. Each technique has its pros and cons, so it is important to discuss the options with your veterinarian to determine which procedure would be best for your dog's situation. Below are the most common methods of repairing the injury.
Arthroscopy is the least invasive method of visualizing the stifle, cranial, and caudal cruciate ligament structures. The technique improves joint structure visualization and magnification. This procedure's technology allows for minimal surgical incisions for partial CCL and meniscus tears. For completely torn ligaments, this method may not be an option.
Lateral Suture or Extracapsular
This surgery, which is frequently recommended for small to medium-sized dogs, stabilizes the stifle (knee) by using sutures placed on the outside of the joint. This is one of the most common surgeries for this type of injury, and it is usually performed on dogs weighing less than 50 pounds.
TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement)
TTA is a method of surgery that corrects the need for the CCL by cutting the top of the tibia, moving it forward, and stabilizing it in its new position using a plate. Therefore, the goal with TTA is to replace the ligament entirely rather than repair it.
TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy)
TPLO surgery is gaining popularity and is the best option for large dog breeds. The procedure entails cutting and leveling the tibial plateau. The surgeon then uses a plate and screws to stabilize the tibial plateau. The ligament is also no longer required as a result of this surgery.
Post-Op Recovery of CCL Surgery in Dogs
The care your dog receives after surgery will determine how successful the operation is, regardless of which operation is used to repair the ligament. The first 12 weeks after surgery are critical for recovery and rehabilitation. The keys to a successful recovery are limited exercise and encouraging your dog to start using their legs.
At two weeks post-operatively, you can gradually increase the length of your dog’s leashed walks.
By the eighth week, your dog should be able to take two 20-minute walks each day and perform some of their basic daily living activities.
After ten weeks post-operatively, your vet will take x-rays to assess how the bone is healing. Your dog will gradually be able to resume normal activities. We at Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) recommend a rehabilitation program to optimize your dog’s recovery.
Whatever rehabilitation facility you attend should have experience in post-op recovery from orthopedic injuries such as the TPLO.
Some dogs have also experienced positive results via acupuncture treatments and laser therapy.
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 CCL tear? Contact our Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) vets and book a consultation today
Your veterinary specialist in VenturaWe're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
Related Articles View All
Most dogs are given anesthesia when they are spayed or neutered, and the majority of them will require it at least once throughout their lives. Our four-legged pets, like us, may require anesthesia as part of a surgery or procedure. Today, our Ventura vets discuss what you should know about anesthesia for dogs.
At Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) in Ventura, our board-certified veterinary neurologists use our in-house MRI to help diagnose a range of health issues in dogs from a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament to brain tumors. Today our vets explain why MRI scans for dogs can be helpful, and the conditions this technology can help diagnose.
FHO surgery can be an effective and relatively inexpensive surgical treatment option for hip problems in cats. Today, our Ventura vets describe the hip anatomy of cats, hip problems that could affect your kitty and what’s involved in FHO surgery and recovery.
Cataracts prevent light from reaching the retina of your dog, resulting in blurred vision and, ultimately, blindness. In today's blog, our Ventura veterinarians discuss the causes and symptoms of canine cataracts, as well as the surgery used to treat this eye condition.
Conditions that necessitate immediate medical attention in pets can arise in the same way that they do in humans. Ventura veterinarians explain when emergency care is necessary and what to do in those situations.