Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

While watching a sports event, it’s common to cringe when witnessing an athlete collapsing and clutching their knee. This often indicates a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a crucial ligament for knee stability. Surprisingly, our beloved pets can also experience a similar knee ligament tear known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear.

What exactly is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament is responsible for connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) and plays a vital role in stabilizing the knee joint. When this ligament ruptures or tears, the shin bone moves forward away from the femur while the pet walks, resulting in discomfort and instability.

What causes damage to the cranial cruciate ligament in pets?

Various factors contribute to a CCL rupture or tear in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape, and breed. Unlike acute injuries to a healthy ligament, CCL rupture typically occurs due to gradual degeneration over months or years.

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

Identifying the signs of a CCL tear, especially a partial tear, can be challenging for pet owners, as they can vary in severity. However, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care if your pet displays any of the following signs:

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

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be treated?

The treatment for a torn CCL depends on various factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Typically, surgery is the most effective option, as it offers a permanent solution through osteotomy- or suture-based techniques to manage the instability. However, medical management may also be considered in certain cases.

If you notice your pet limping on a hind leg, it’s advisable to schedule an orthopedic exam with our team to assess the possibility of a cranial cruciate ligament tear.