For dogs, a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is the most common knee injury in canines. The cruciate ligaments are two bands of fibrous tissue located within each knee joint, which join the femur and tibia together, causing the knee to work as a hinged joint.
An acute or traumatic cruciate rupture happens when there is a twisting injury to the knee joint, which occurs when a dog is running and has a sudden change of direction. A cruciate ligament rupture is very painful for the animal and it renders the knee joint unstable.
Dogs with problems in their knees may be more inclined to rupturing the cruciate ligament, as well as dogs who are obese. For overweight canines, this can happen through minor knee trauma, like stumbling or tripping while walking.
When a ruptured cruciate occurs, dogs usually will place limited weight on their injured leg. We will then hear from pet owners that the animal was running and turning when, all of a sudden, they stopped, made a noise and were then unable to put weight on the hurt leg. During the exam, we will check your dog’s leg and attempt to move it in certain directions to make a correct diagnosis—x-rays may also be necessary. In some instances, a sedative will have to be administered to the dog, so we can perform these services.
Some dogs could heal this injury without surgery, but this requires them to have extremely limited exercise, movement and rest for approximately six weeks. Unfortunately, most dogs will require surgery when a ruptured cruciate occurs.
After surgery, you must limit your dog’s activity for six to eight weeks after surgery. If all goes well, normal activity to your dog’s leg may resume within three months, however arthritis will probably develop as your dog gets older. Physical therapy is recommended after the surgery to ensure a quick recovery and to minimize complications. We will discuss all of this and more prior to surgery.
At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. For any questions regarding cruciate ligament ruptures in dogs, please contact us at our following locations:
Dunlap II: 309-413-0527