Cruciate Ligament Disease in Dogs

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Christian Sadler

Veterinary Surgeon and co-founder of Tatton Veterinary Practice

What is a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Injury?

The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the main stabilising ligaments within a dog’s knee (stifle) joint. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the joint’s stability during movement. Unfortunately, it is also prone to injury, particularly in larger breeds and overweight dogs.

Causes and Symptoms:

CCL injuries can occur due to a single traumatic event or develop over time due to degeneration of the ligament. Common causes include sudden twists or turns, obesity, and repetitive stress on the joint. If your dog has experienced a CCL injury, you may notice signs such as limping, difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg, swelling around the knee, and a decrease in overall activity levels.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

If you think your dog may have suffered a CCL injury, or has developed a limp which hasn’t resolved on its own the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of our experienced veterinary surgeons. After a thorough clinical examination, your pet will likely need to have some x-rays to confirm the injury and plan the best treatment option for them.

Treatment options for CCL injuries can vary depending on the severity of the injury and individual factors. On the rare occasion, conservative management involving rest, physical therapy, and weight management may be sufficient. However, surgical intervention is often necessary to restore stability to the joint. Surgical techniques may include extracapsular repair, tibial plateau levelling osteotomy (TPLO), or tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA). We will guide you as to which option is best for you and your dog depending on their size, conformation and activity levels.

Preventing CCL Injuries:

While not all CCL injuries can be prevented, there are measures you can take to minimise the risk. Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce strain on the joints.  Additionally, consider providing joint supplements that are high in omega 3s and 6s, to help support the joint and its function.

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