Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear – Travel Animal Doctor

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear – Travel Animal Doctor

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. 

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All this hiking can tire a girl out.


Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease:

So what types of dogs often get a torn cranial cruciate ligament, and how does it often occur?

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Admiring the view.

  • 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?
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Jade is a fan of traveling along the river.

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)
    traveling vet

    Jade is Ready to Go - Travel Animal Doctor

  • Radiographs/"X-Ray's" of the knee
  • Arthroscopy

Treatment Options:

  • 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.

One of the easiest ways of prevention of this disease is watching your pet's weight. - Travel Animal Doctor




  1. Great tips! I will pass this info onto friends with larger, hiking dogs. Ruby, who is a smaller dog, is recovering from a broken toe. She is finally cast free, but we are taking things slow in returning to her usual activity level.
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    • It is good to hear she is well on her way to recovery. I am sure it was a relief getting that cast removed.

  2. Great tips. Rather scary the things that can go wrong. I tore my own knee ligaments and meniscus- so annoying and painful. Kilo jumps all over the place like a ninja pug so I worry about his knees and hips. That’s one of the reasons I am so careful to try to keep him fit and at a good weight.

    • Oh my, I am sorry to hear that it happened to you, and hope that things are all better now. Lol, Kilo sounds absolutely adorable, but I understand the worry of those joints. Smart thinking, keeping Kilo at a healthy weight should definitely help!

  3. Great information. Even though my dog, Garin is healthy and not overweight. I often cringe when I see him jump a certain way. I guess this is the curse of knowing what all can go wrong.

    • I understand that feeling. I am an overprotective pet parent, and I blame the education. 😉

  4. I could see my coonhound with this ligament issue. He is a bit overweight and we are working on that problem!
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    • I would not wish an issue like this on anyone’s pet. Bills stink. The surgical repair option can be quite costly. Prevention is the easiest and most convenient fix! 🙂 It sounds like you are well on your way to correcting his weight. Being aware that there is a problem is a huge step. Good luck!

      • Oh yes, we will get the weight under control.

        Also, I really like that harness and leash on your dog pictured here. Have you reviewed these?

        • Thank you! I have not reviewed it, but that is a great idea. I will have to take a look at it when I get home.


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