Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

When we witness athletes going down on the field, clutching their knees, we cringe, knowing that they have likely torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a vital ligament responsible for knee stabilization. But did you know that our beloved pets can suffer from a similar knee ligament tear? Although referred to as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), the issue is essentially the same.

So, what exactly is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets? Well, the cranial cruciate ligament connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) and plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin bone moves forward away from the femur with every step, leading to instability and discomfort for our furry friends.

But how does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets? There are numerous factors that can contribute to a CCL rupture or tear, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape and configuration, and breed. Unlike acute injuries to healthy ligaments, CCL ruptures typically occur due to slow degeneration over an extended period, spanning months or even years.

Identifying the signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets can be challenging for pet owners. The severity of the signs can vary, making it difficult to determine whether veterinary care is necessary. However, it is crucial to seek medical attention if your pet displays any of the following signs:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness in a hind leg
  • Difficulty standing up after sitting
  • Trouble while sitting
  • Difficulty jumping onto furniture or into the car
  • Decreased activity level
  • Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
  • Decreased range of motion in the knee

Once a torn cranial cruciate ligament is diagnosed, the appropriate treatment method will depend on your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability. In most cases, surgery is the preferred option since osteotomy- or suture-based techniques are the only permanent solutions to manage the instability effectively. However, medical management may also be considered in certain situations.

If you notice your pet limping on a hind leg, it is essential to contact our team and schedule an orthopedic examination. Our experts can provide the necessary care and guidance to ensure your pet’s well-being and help them recover from a cranial cruciate ligament tear.