Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a common injury in humans, and in dogs. In dogs the same ligament is called the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL). CCL Disease is multifactorial and many times a chronic condition. It is most commonly seen in active dogs, can be hereditary, can occur as a result of trauma, and can be related to an individual’s tibial plateau anatomy. Dogs with steep tibial plateaus are more likely to rupture their CCL.

Clinical signs – You may notice your dog becomes lame on a rear limb acutely, possibly after a slip, fall, or athletic activity. It may be very painful. If it is a partial CCL tear, your pet may partially weight bearing and potentially less painful.

Diagnosis – Your pets’ veterinarian can diagnose a CCL tear during a physical exam. Depending on the stress and pain level, the veterinarian may recommend a sedative and/or pain medication for relaxation in order to complete the physical exam.

Radiographs – X-rays are important to ensure no additional bony abnormalities are present. Many times arthritis is associated with chronic cruciate disease and may be visible on radiographs. If trauma caused CCL rupture, it is good to know there is not any fractures or other bony trauma present.

Treatment – Some small, inactive dogs may heal on their own and be functional; although they may have a bit of a limp. Large or active dogs almost always require surgery. There are multiple surgeries available and you should talk with your pets’ veterinarian about which one is right for your pet. Regardless of the surgery performed, you will need to keep your pet quiet (no running, jumping, playing, etc) for anywhere between 2-8 or more weeks. Dogs that rupture one cruciate ligament have a 60% chance of rupturing their opposite cruciate ligament within two years.