The most common causes of an anterior cruciate ligament tear in dogs

The anterior cruciate ligament, or the ACL, is an important ligament connecting your dog’s leg bones, muscles and the knee joint. It works as a support structure that allows your pet to live their best doggy life, from walking and running to digging holes in your garden.

If this ligament tears, your pet will be in pain and they will no longer be able to undertake normal movement. These tears can result in a wobbly leg, with no definition visible between the upper and lower parts.

There are a number of things that can cause an ACL to rupture; however, we’ve listed the most common causes and how they can be treated.

Excess strain on the lower legs

If your dog spends a lot of time on their hind leg, whether it be partially or fully flexed, they are more likely to develop and ACL tear. The lower limb bone (or tibia) will move in a circular motion within the leg, and this can eventually cause the ligament to snap.

Your pet may be overweight

Obesity in pets is becoming more and more common, and with it there is an increased risk of orthopaedic issues. Excessive weight places pressure on the support structure of your dog’s legs, and this can cause a tear to develop even from the slightest of movements. Exercising your dog regularly can reduce the likelihood of obesity, and in turn, an unnecessary ACL tear.

Inconsistent exercise regime

What we call ‘Weekend Warrior Syndrome’, inconsistent exercise throughout the week – such as no walks on weekdays and an overload of activity on the weekend – can result in your pet being overworked in a short period of time and increasing the risks of developing an ACL injury. We suggest setting aside a daily walk to create a consistent routine. This will keep your dog healthy without pushing them too far.

Treating an ACL injury

One of the best ways to treat a ruptured or torn ACL is through surgery. We can repair the affected soft tissue as well as any bones that have been damaged. We use a local anaesthetic to minimise the pain, and the procedure itself will only take roughly 30 minutes. Within 12 weeks, your pet will be completely back to normal!

Do you think your pet may have ACL damage? Meet with our team today to develop a unique and targeted treatment plan.