Get My Free Quote

Torn ACL in Dogs

by | March 16, 2020 | Pet Care

Small dog lying on the floor

If you’re a dog owner, you likely have heard of various injuries your pet could sustain. A torn ACL is one such injury. An ACL tear, also called a cranial cruciate ligament rupture or CCL in dogs, is when the ligament that connects the back of the femur to the front of the tibia is torn. If you’re wondering what causes a torn ACL in dogs, this can occur for a number of reasons and can be linked to age, activity, type of breed, or obesity.

Even if your dog hasn’t experienced this injury in the past, it’s good to know what to look for should an ACL tear in dogs occur. The following will provide information on the different dog breeds more susceptible to a torn ACL in dogs, how to diagnose this injury, treatments available, and details related to recovery.

What Dog Breeds Are Susceptible to ACL Tears

Dog face closeup from side

Any breed of dog can experience a torn ACL, but there are certain dog breeds that have a higher susceptibility to this type of injury. Dog breeds that may have a higher risk of ACL tears include the following:

In addition to certain breeds being more likely to have ACL tears, dogs that are overweight, as well as, dogs that engage in strenuous activity occasionally are also at risk for this medical condition.

It may take a while to notice the signs of a dog’s torn ACL because the initial condition is slight and worsens over time. However, it could be an immediate injury where you notice your dog is injured right away.

How to Diagnose An ACL Injury

Black dog stays at lake

Dogs can have different injuries and be stricken with a variety of medical conditions, so you may be wondering how to tell if an ACL tear is the real issue. Some of the symptoms of a torn ACL in dogs include the following:

  • Slight lameness in the leg
  • Completely unable to bear weight on the leg
  • Swelling on the inner portion of the knee

When your pup is not feeling well, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a physical exam. The vet will likely perform x-rays in addition to the full physical exam to see what’s going on with the bones. X-rays will help your dog’s veterinarian determine if fluid is in the joint and if the bone is displaced along with the torn ligaments in a dog’s knee.

Treatments for a Torn ACL

Black dog looking up in front of lake

If you’re wondering how to treat a dog’s torn ACL, treatment options are varied. If treating a dog’s torn ACL without surgery, the lameness in your dog’s leg caused by the partially torn dog’s ACL or ruptured ACL will improve and perhaps even go away completely in approximately three to six weeks.

However, since the once-healthy ACL is no longer, your dog may experience a decreased range of motion, bone spurs, arthritis, pain, and other issues due to the prior injury. Although these conditions may occur in all dogs, they’re more likely in medium-sized and large dogs. Torn ACL injuries in older dogs may also result in these conditions occurring.

Non-surgical treatment is used more often in the case of a torn ACL in small dogs and these pups are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications and rest, as much as possible. You can also read up on natural aids, such as CBD oil for dogs. For dogs needing surgery, there are many surgical techniques available to provide the dog with stability options for the joint and your veterinarian will recommend the surgical procedure best suited for your dog.

Recovery Process for a Torn ACL

Grey dog in black background

The recovery recommended for your dog will depend on the type of surgery used to repair the torn ACL. In general, your dog will usually have to keep weight off the injured leg for two to three weeks. Also, exercise will be restricted for at least eight weeks. This will ensure that your dog has time for their leg to heal properly. Ice application and range of motion activities for the leg may be recommended to help the leg heal as quickly and effectively as possible. You may even have to crate your pup when you’re not around to ensure they don’t run around and further injure their leg.

Obtain Pet Insurance to Have Financial Protection Should An ACL Tear Occur

White dog with characteristic ears

It’s important to note that not all dogs will experience a torn ACL. Studies have shown that 5% of male dogs neutered prior to 12 months and 8% of female dogs develop ACL injuries later in life. Even though this amount may seem less than you would imagine, it’s good to be prepared and know about the medical condition should it arise. This is especially true if your dog is one of the more susceptible breeds listed above.

To properly safeguard your pet should future medical conditions arise, having a pet insurance plan in place is a smart move to make. Especially since the cost of surgery for a dog’s torn ACL is high. Prudent Pet offers many types of pet insurance plans that will make protecting your pet easy as can be. It’s important to learn more about pet insurance options and learn what is covered under pet insurance. Prudent Pet can help you with all of this and more!

Find out more about how to obtain a quote for pet insurance and rest easy knowing that future medical needs of your pet are taken care of.

Author Profile Image

Diane

Diane loves all animals and has parented dogs, cats, pigs, goats, chickens, sheep, and four children over the years. She is currently owned by Lucy, a senior Chow who always wants to stay close to her people. Lucy is a retired guide dog who is happiest when a child is nearby.