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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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One Response to Health Concern Spotlight: Cruciate Ligament Tear

  1. Lizzy Benson says:

    Good Article Stacy! Ever since my pup had a torn cruciate ligament tear I have been looking to see what others have done, and also share my experience. Once one leg goes out, its usually not too long before the other one gets injured. I could not afford the costs of surgery, so we went the brace route.

    I am happy with the A-TraC brace that I ordered for my 11 year old Cockapoo,
    Brandy. I we took Brandy to the vet because she had torn her ACL and had been to
    see him 6 weeks prior. I knew this was the right choice for us, but wanted to
    get a professional l assessment of the leg and the mending, if any, that had
    taken place. Well……..the vet was “”astounded”” by Brandy’s progress and
    healing!!!! While feeling the affected stifle joint and moving and maneuvering
    it, he just smiled and raised his eyebrows in almost disbelief of the reduced
    translation and rebuilding of the injury. He said he felt the translation was
    about 80% reduced from her initial exam after the injury and that by keeping the
    joint stabilized the scar tissue was able to fill in and reduce the front to
    back movement. I was so happy with his report, I almost cried!!!!! With having
    the brace on Brandy, I kept her quiet the first 2 weeks and then started with
    short, slow walks. I did not allow her to do any stairs for that time, but after
    that I had her start up them slowly with some aid and went from there. Now she
    can do the stairs on her own and we take 2-3 short walks a day. Of course, all
    of this is done with the brace still on. I give her a break from it in the
    afternoons when we are home and I can keep an eye on her, otherwise it stays on.
    She and I have a lot more of a normal life now thanks to the brace. Before I
    discovered the A-TraC, I really couldn’t leave her alone unless she was caged,
    which is something she was not used to for most of her 11 years and felt like
    punishment, so it was very stressful and sad for both of us. Just so you know
    too, surgery did not seem like an option for Brandy because of her age and many
    ongoing health issues : reduced kidney function, borderline Cushing’s Disease,
    high blood pressure, and Liver problems. I also knew what was in store for us if
    we had gone ahead with the surgery because she had torn the other ACL 3 years
    ago and we went through the repair procedure and post-op and it was extremely
    difficult on us both. I don’t know how long we have left together but because of
    this marvelous discovery, the time we do have will be enjoyable; filled with
    lots of walks, hopefully long ones soon, and more independence for her and me!
    The woundwear brace is doing wonders!

    checkout woundwear.com for their brace. They were very helpful over the phone.

    lizzy B”

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