Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

What happens when my dog tears their ACL?

An ACL tear signifies a partial or complete rupture in your dog's anterior cruciate ligament. This ligament bridges the back of the femur to the front of the tibia inside the stifle, commonly known as a dog's knee.

This injury is intensely painful for dogs, leading to swift lameness in the affected leg. Rotational activities like fetching or excessive weight causing undue stress on joints are frequent culprits behind ACL tears in dogs.

Molly 2 year old labrador - recovery post Zlig surgery

Diagnosing ACL tears in dogs

A full ACL tear becomes evident when there's any movement of the tibia relative to the femur, which is abnormal. Some vet clinics might recommend X-rays of the knees and hips, often involving anaesthetics, to pinpoint this injury. However, at Brisbane Pet Surgery (BPS), we believe such measures aren't always necessary and can escalate costs for pet owners.

The issue is usually within that joint if there's no evident instability and pain in the stifle. With adequate rest and care, many dogs with minor ACL tears might not even require surgical intervention.

Cruciate Ligament Surgery

For dogs with a complete ACL tear, surgery is essential to regain limb functionality.

Brisbane Pet Surgery offers three notable ACL stabilisation methods:
Zlig (artificial ACL replacement), Modified Marquet Procedure (MMP) which is a type of TTA osteotomy and Cora Based TPLO (CBLO). Our Melbourne clinic Melbourne Pet Surgery also offers Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy TPLO.

Each procedure has its merits, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. The chosen method depends on the individual needs and circumstances of the pet owner.

Three Surgery Options for torn ACL in dogs

CBLO combines the benefits of plateau levelling and tibial tuberosity procedures for faster recovery and is suitable for all dog sizes and lowers fracture risk in small dogs.

titanium wedge

The Modified Marquet Procedure (MMP) is a type of Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) osteotomy that alters how the stifle functions to better deal with a torn ACL.

Modern Implant

Zlig is a highly effective procedure that directly stabilises the ACL using an artificial implant to replace the torn ACL, and this is our current preferred technique.

Cost of ACL surgery for dogs

At Brisbane Pet Surgery, ACL surgery costs range from $2,750 to $4,000. We aim to make this essential surgery accessible to more pet owners by offering competitive rates.

While many clinics perform 10-20 ACL procedures annually, we conduct over 250.

Recovery and aftercare

Recovery details might vary based on the chosen procedure. In general, dogs should be crated for at least four weeks post-surgery. Immediate short walks are encouraged, gradually increasing in duration.

Most dogs recuperate 80-90% of their mobility within a month, and by 12 weeks post-surgery, they can fully enjoy off-leash play.

What if I don't want ACL surgery?

If the ACL is entirely torn, unfortunately surgery will be necessary. A torn ACL results in knee instability, leading to eventual painful arthritis. Bone spurs can develop rapidly, especially in larger breeds. Surgery can only manage or slow down the progression by the time these form. Given the inevitable health implications of a torn ACL, surgery is crucial for your dog's well-being.

Scot Plummer

Meet Dr. Scot Plummer


Since childhood, Dr. Plummer has been passionate about caring for animals, and graduated with Honours in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Queensland. He opened the Brisbane Pet Surgery with the aim of making quality pet care affordable for everyone.

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