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Cruciate Ligament Injury in Dogs… Definitions, Treatment Options and More!

Now if you’re a fan of the NFL or you have a passion for playing fantasy football with your friends, we here at IndulgeYourPet don’t need to tell you how “disastrous” an ACL injury can be to your team and/or season.

But can dogs suffer from an ACL injury as well?

This is the question that we’re going to “attempt” to answer in today’s article and hopefully give you a better understanding of what an ACL injury might look like in a four-legged critter vs an NFL athlete.

So… what is a Cruciate Ligament Injury?

When we “suspect” that a dog may be suffering from a cruciate ligament injury (which is very similar to a torn ACL in humans), what we’re really saying is that we “suspect” that they ligament that connects the tibia (leg) bone and the femur has been torn in a way that makes walking or applying any pressure to the hind legs almost impossible for your dog.


You know those inverted “knees” of your dog’s hind legs? That joint is called the stifle joint – and this is where a CCL injury is going to happen.

The Stifle What?

The stifle joint.  This is the “joint” where your dog’s femur, tibia and patella bones all meet up in a joint that’s referred to as a joint capsule.

Now obviously…

If anything goes wrong here it’s a big problem! The CCL is how the femur and the tibia stick together in your dog, which is a really good thing if you want to be able to walk normally and not experience a ton of pain every time you take a step!

Clinical Signs of a CCL Injury in Your Dog

Since dogs can’t tell you what’s wrong, as a dog’s human, you really need to pay attention to any clinical signs or symptoms that would indicate something’s wrong with your pup.

Whether it be…

A knee joint problem or a neurological problem – you’ll need to be constantly aware of things like your dog’s behavior to know if he or she ever has an illness or injury. Luckily, for a CCL problem, it’s pretty easy to spot because your dog won’t be walking properly. He might also have quite a bit of swelling in the “knee” area indicating a problem as well.


Once you do decide to take your dog to the veterinarian, you should expect him or her to confirm everyone’s suspicion that your dog as a torn CCL by performing physical exam on your pet and probably ordering x-rays as well.

And hopefully…

Your dog’s limp may not actually be caused by a torn CCL!  It could be due to some other reason such as a:

  • Shin bone problems,
  • Tibial plateau,
  • Joint problems,
  • Meniscus injury (medial meniscus tear),
  • Other knee problems,
  • Bone pain,
  • Etc, etc…

Which is why it’s so important that…

“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!”

Treatment for a CCL Injury in your Dog

Okay, now if it does turn out that your dog does have a torn CCL, the treatment plan can vary significantly depending on what:

  • Kind of dog you have?
  • How active he or she is?
  • And what is the extent of the tear or rupture?

Depending on your situation…

Your vet may recommend:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication – in some cases a ruptured CCL can actually improve/go away.
  • Surgery – if it doesn’t, then this is sort of inevitable.

There are a few types of surgery that could be done:

  • Extracapsular lateral suture stabilization procedure.
  • Tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA).
  • Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy.

Now if…

It turns out that dog does require surgery to correct his or her torn CCL, then you should also prepare yourself for some of the “post-op” care he or she may require since they will probably be relatively immobile for a while.


It’s quite possible that your dog may also require some physical therapy in order to get your dog’s injured/healed leg back to its original condition.

But remember…

We here at IndulgeYourPet are NOT doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals!  All we are is a bunch of folks who a passionate about animals and only want the best for you and your pet.

This is why…

If you do believe that your pet may be suffering from a torn CCL or experiencing any other “type” of medical condition what so ever, please be sure and have him or her checked out by a profession.  All we want to do in this article is give you some “ideas” about what to look for and what “kind” of treatment your pet may require.

We also like to…

Write these “types” of articles because we feel that they are a perfect way to introduce a topic very few pet owners ever think about until it’s too late!

And what topic could that be?

The topic of pet insurance.   You see, despite the fact that nearly every pet owner will one day need to take their pet to go see a veterinarian for some type of illness or injury, very few pet owners actually own a pet insurance policy to help pay for that care.

This is why…

We like to write articles like these pointing out many of the conditions that your dog may suffer from as well as remind folks to take a moment and see what it might cost to get your pet insured.

For more information about who we fell currently offers some of the best pet insurance policies in the industry, we would encourage you to take a moment and visit our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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