Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears
written by: Colin Sereda, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS
Tearing (either partial or complete tears) of the cranial cruciate ligament (also referred to as the “anterior cruciate ligament – ACL”) is the most common cause of hind limb lameness seen in dogs. Any dog can be affected, from the two pound Yorkshire terrier to a one hundred and fifty pound mastiff. There are some breeds, however, which tend to be over represented, including the Rottweiler, Labrador and Golden Retriever, Mastiff, and German Shepherd. Cats can also damage their cruciate ligaments, however they are affected much less commonly than dogs. While the cranial cruciate ligament can be torn secondary to trauma, most dogs have a degenerative process whereby the ligament is weakened over time. As such, no traumatic event is required to result in a cruciate injury.
What does the cranial cruciate ligament do?
How do I know if my dog has a cruciate ligament injury?
What treatment options are available?
Surgery is generally recommended in all cases of cruciate injury (barring some specific situations), but in cases where it cannot be pursued, aggressive conservative/medical therapy can be attempted. This consists of pain medications, joint supplements, weight management, and continued regular exercise. These techniques are also important as postoperative treatments when surgery is elected.
What can I expect for my dog after surgery?