Health Concern Spotlight: Cruciate Ligament Tear - The Trupanion Blog
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Health Concern Spotlight: Cruciate Ligament Tear

Have your dogs, or those of someone you know, ever torn a cruciate ligament? Cruciate ligament tears are fairly common among dogs, and unfortunately, treatment is quite expensive. As a dog owner, it’s important to be aware of this type of injury so that you can be prepared in case you should have to face it in the future.

A dog’s knee joint is made up of the kneecap (patella), cartilage, and ligaments that connect the bones together. The essential ligaments – the cranial (anterior) and caudal (posterior) cruciate ligaments cross over each other to form a stable knee joint.

Causes: Healthy dogs can experience this type of injury just from physical activity such as a bad landing from running or jumping. Overweight dogs are more prone to a cruciate injury.

Symptoms: Dogs with a torn or ruptured cruciate ligament commonly experience pain and difficulty walking due to the unusual range of movement of the leg that results from the tear.

Diagnosis and treatment: A veterinarian can diagnose the issue by visually examining the leg for unusual range of motion. They may also take radiographs. Most dogs with the injury require surgery. There are a few different options for surgeries, but one more popular form of surgery is called the tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). In this surgery, a metal plate is used to affix the bones in place. Dogs must rest for 8+ weeks to fully heal.

Sawyer is a 3-year-old mixed-breed dog insured with Trupanion who was recently treated at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a right cranial cruciate ligament tear. His treatment was a TPLO surgery at the clinic where he spent three days.

Prevention: To avoid this type of injury, be sure to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Regular exercise may also reduce your dog’s risk by keeping his body in good physical shape and accustomed to physical exercise.

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