Cruciate Ligament Injury in Dogs


We often hear of people with large dogs talking about cruciate injuries, however it can happen in smaller dogs too.

The cruciate ligament is in the knee. There are two ligaments – anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. Both of the ligaments create stability in the knee joint enabling it to work effectively. If the dog sustains an injury to the knee, it could be that the ligament is torn or ruptured. The dog will show signs of inflammation, pain and lameness. It is quite common for active dogs to suffer this type of injury but also overweight dogs seriously injure their knees too, simply from twisting the knee during activity. You can help reduce the chances of your dog damaging the ligament by keeping them at a healthy weight and a sensible level of exercise.

Lameness from cruciate ligament injury usually comes on suddenly, at the time of the injury. If your dog develops sudden pain and lameness in one of his knees, it’s a good idea to seek veterinary care within 48hrs. If left untreated, your dog can develop chronic arthritis in the affected knee joint.

A cruciate ligament injury is fairly common. It can be diagnosed by a vet on examination (palpation) with xrays, arthroscopy and MRI to ascertain the extent of the damage to the cruciate.  Not all dogs need surgery, sometimes it is sufficient to have a few weeks of complete rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, but this is assessed at the time and throughout the recovery phase.

There will be susceptibility to being prone to further knee injuries in the future.

In most cases, surgery is needed to repair the damaged joint.  Usually the dog will make a good recovery, the prognosis only varies depending on the extent of the injury and the type of surgery used to treat it.

If the older method of surgery is carried out this has a lower success rate. This method is replacing the ruptured cruciate ligament with a strong suture.

There are two more successful methods of surgery which alters the working mechanism of the knee so that it doesn’t need a cruciate ligament. These are TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) and TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement).These methods not only have a better level of prognosis but also rules out the risk of the injury reoccurring.

The downside to both of these procedures are that they are expensive and require a longer recovery in comparison to the older method.

Advice contained within this article does not take the place of a Vets.


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