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Dog ACL: What Is It?

Dog ACL: What Is It?

In humans, the ACL can commonly become injured, typically in athletes, but did you know that dogs have a similar ligament? In dogs, the ACL is actually referred to as the CCL. Here our Pittsboro vets discuss ACL (CCL) injuries in dogs, as well as how they can be treated and prevented.

The Dog ACL or Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a thin connective tissue in the middle of our (human) knees.

This connective tissue in dogs is called the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) and it connects the bone below the knee (tibia) to the bone above the knee (femur). You can think of the CLL as a "dog ACL" and have the right idea!

Comparing the two, the most relevant distinction is that the CCL is always load-bearing because dogs never unbend their knees while standing. This "ACL in dogs" is thus subject to greater wear and tear than the average human's ACL and a dog's CCL naturally has to withhold greater stress.

How Are The Dog CCL and Human ACL Different?

ACL tears occur due to an acute trauma stemming from a sudden movement such as a jump or change of direction, regular daily use should not contribute to a torn ACL. In dogs, CCL injuries tend to come on gradually, becoming progressively worse until a tear occurs.

What Are Some Signs of a Torn ACL (CCL) in Dogs?

Most commonly a dog who has torn their CCL will demonstrate stiffness (typically most noticeable after rest that follows exercise), as well as difficulty rising, jumping, and/or walking without a limp.

Continued activity on a mildly injured leg will cause the injury to worsen and symptoms to become more pronounced.

Dogs suffering from a single torn CCL will typically begin favoring the non-injured leg, which commonly leads to the injury of a second knee. Approximately 60% of dogs with a single CCL injury will go on to injure the other knee soon afterward.

Will My Dog's ACL (CCL) Repair Itself?

Treating a dog's ACL or, more accurately, CCL injury with a knee brace is a non-surgical option that may help to stabilize the knee joint in some dogs. The support provided by a knee brace gives the ligament time to scar over and repair itself. Treating CCL injuries through the use of a knee brace may be successful for dogs when combined with restricted activity.

Will My Dog Need ACL (CCL) Surgery?

You should ask your vet whether or not surgery is right for your canine companion.  There are a number of different CLL repairing surgeries that vary in preference based on dog breed, age, and size.  Your veterinarian can recommend the best "ACL" surgery for your dog's specific needs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you think that your dog may have torn their ACL (CCL), contact our Pittsboro vets right away to schedule a visit.

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Our vets at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our talented veterinary team is passionate about caring for the pets of Pittsboro. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

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