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Understanding Pet Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears

While watching a sports event, it’s common to cringe when an athlete goes down, clutching their knee, as you know it’s likely an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. But did you know that pets can experience a similar knee ligament injury? In pets, it’s called a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear, but the problem remains the same.

What is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL tears or ruptures, it causes the shin bone to thrust forward during your pet’s movement, leading to instability and discomfort.

How do cranial cruciate ligaments become damaged in pets?

Multiple factors contribute to CCL tears or ruptures in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape, configuration, and breed. Typically, CCL rupture occurs gradually over months or years due to ligament degeneration rather than as a result of acute injury to a healthy ligament.

What are the signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

Signs of a CCL tear can vary in severity, making it challenging for pet owners to determine if their pet requires veterinary care. However, it’s important to seek medical attention if your pet displays the following signs:

– Pain
– Stiffness
– Lameness in a hind leg
– Difficulty standing after sitting
– Difficulty during the sitting process
– Trouble jumping into the car or on furniture
– Decreased activity level
– Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
– Reduced range of motion in the knee

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired?

The appropriate treatment for a torn CCL depends on factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the most effective option as it provides a permanent solution through osteotomy- or suture-based techniques. However, in some cases, medical management may be considered.

If you notice your pet limping on a hind leg, they may have suffered a cranial cruciate ligament tear. Please contact our team to schedule an orthopedic examination.