Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury

A dog’s knee has several ligaments and structures that help to stabilize it and provide shock absorption. The cranial cruciate ligament is among these important stabilizing ligaments. Unfortunately, partial or complete rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament is a common orthopedic disease in dogs. A cranial cruciate ligament injury may occur secondary to trauma but can also occur due to weakening of the ligament itself.

When the cranial crucial ligament ruptures or tears, the knee becomes unstable and pets may exhibit varying degrees of limping and pain. The meniscus, a shock absorbing structure in the knee, can also become torn when the knee becomes unstable. If the knee is chronically unstable, secondary changes including osteoarthritis may occur.

A definitive diagnosis of a cranial cruciate ligament injury is best made by a veterinary surgeon. A complete orthopedic exam and radiographs of the knee are often used to evaluate the joint and to determine a course of treatment. Most often, surgery is recommended to stabilize the joint. While the ligament cannot be repaired, the knee can be surgically stabilized in several different ways.

Pending further evaluation by a veterinary surgeon, any pet with limping should be kept activity restricted to decrease further exacerbation of inflammation and injury. Pets should be restricted to short (10-15 minute) leash walks to use the bathroom and should not be permitted to run, rough-house, play, or jump on furniture. Steps should be minimized to decrease the risk of falling and acquiring a new or worse injury.