Thoughts of an ACL tear were on my mind this weekend when a friend took a fall. - Travel Animal Doctor
She presented with similar clinical signs of that of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in a dog.
As I went on a hike with my husband and furry friend, I could not stop thinking about the disease, so I finally decided to come home and write about it.
What is a CCL tear?
A cranial cruciate ligament tear is a common problem in large breed dogs, like our lab, Jade. This disease is simply put, a torn cranial cruciate ligament in the knee of your pet. In humans the term is anterior cruciate ligament, but in dogs, the same ligament is commonly referred to as the cranial cruciate ligament.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease:
So what types of dogs often get a torn cranial cruciate ligament, and how does it often occur?
- This disease can occur quickly or progress into a disease process
- A torn CCL occurs most often in Labs (like Jade), Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers and Newfoundlands
- Your dog is at increased risk if it is overweight.
How would you know if your pet may have a torn CCL?
- Is your dog holding up one back leg or favoring one back leg over the other?
- When your dog is hiking with you do you notice "limping" that gets worse with exercise?
- Does one knee appear to be bigger than the other or do the two back legs look different from one another in size or character?
What other diseases will a veterinarian have to rule out?
There are many other problems that can occur which cause your dog to look similarly discomfortable. A few examples of these diseases that will need to be ruled out include:
- Meniscal tear
- Patella luxation
- Hip dysplasia
Tests veterinarians may need to run to figure out this disease process:
- Physical examination (to palpate the affected knee and envision the potential mechanical disruption)
- Radiographs/"X-Ray's" of the knee
- Medication, glycosaminoglycan and physical rehabilitation (walking, swimming, etc.)
- Surgery (There are many surgical options to stabilize the knee)
Often about fifty percent of small animals (dog or cat that are around twenty pounds or under) that have a torn CCL can do well when just using exercise, medication and glycosaminoglycan.
Bigger dogs like my dog, Jade, only do well around twenty percent of the time without surgery. Surgery is often the most successful way of managing the disease in large breed dogs. Pets improve around eighty-five percent of the time with surgery.