What ACL Tear in Dogs?

What is ACL Tear in Dogs?

What is it?

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears in dogs are a common injury that affects the stability and function of the knee joint. The ACL is responsible for connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and providing support for the joint during movement. ACL tears can be caused by trauma, degeneration, or a combination of factors.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of ACL tears in dogs depends on the severity and location of the injury. Mild cases may be managed through rest and supportive care, while more severe cases may require surgery to repair or stabilize the joint. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be recommended to aid in recovery and prevent future injury. 

Breed Predispositions

Labrador Retrievers Golden Retrievers Rottweilers Newfoundlands Akitas Boxers American Staffordshire Terriers St. Bernards Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Mastiffs


For years, Alex and his loyal Rottweiler, Titan, had enjoyed many adventures together, exploring new trails and parks every weekend. One afternoon, while playing an energetic game of frisbee, Titan suddenly yelped in pain and began limping, unable to put weight on his hind leg. Worried about his beloved companion, Alex quickly realized that Titan needed professional care and took him to the veterinarian. After a careful examination, the vet diagnosed Titan with an ACL tear, a common but painful injury in dogs. In this blog post, we will discuss what an ACL tear is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, as well as how to prevent this injury. By understanding this condition, you’ll be better prepared to support your canine friend’s recovery and help them return to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tears are injuries to the ligaments that stabilize your canine’s knee joint. The torn ACL in dogs attaches to the front of the knee joint, which connects to the tibia bone. At the same time, CCL fastens at the back of the knee joint, near the top of the tibia bone.

ACL and CCL tears occur when excessive stress is put on the knee joint from running, jumping, twisting, etc. It occurs most commonly at the point where the two sides of the knee connect. This is called the “knee” area. ACL tear in dogs are injuries common in dogs. They occur most often in older and larger dogs, especially those overweight. 

There are two types of ACL rupture: acute and chronic.

  • Acute complete Tear in Dogs (AATD)

This is a condition where there is eye inflammation due to injury from foreign bodies such as sand, dirt, grass seeds, etc., which causes pain and swelling and can heal without surgery.

  • Chronic ACL Tears

These injuries occur when the knee joint’s anterior cruciate ligament tear (ACL) is torn. Dogs with chronic tears often result in arthritis and osteoarthritis. The ACL connects the femur to the tibia and prevents excessive knee movement. It helps your dog stabilize the knee during physical activity such as jumping, running, climbing stairs, and squatting.

What Causes Canine Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears?

ACL rupture is common in active dogs. This happens when a dog moves its leg quickly, such as running, jumping, or playing fetch. This sudden movement causes the knee joint to bend sharply backward, causing cruciate ligament rupture.

This traumatic injury usually occurs in two ways: the dog lands awkwardly on the front of the tibia, jumps off a curb or steps down onto a driveway.

An injured leg caused by these accidents is called a traumatic tear. A traumatic or partial tear may cause pain, swelling, bruising, and limping.

Complete tears caused by excessive exercise are known as degenerative tears. Degenerative tears are less painful but still cause damage to the knee and may cause joint disease.

Causes Canine Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears

Degenerative ruptures are usually seen in middle-aged or older dogs. They tend to develop slowly over the years and are often associated with arthritis.

Symptoms of ACL Tear in Dogs

A dog with a torn ACL may experience the following:

  • limping
  • lameness
  • stiffness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • loss of normal function

These symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after injury in dogs.

How do Veterinarians Diagnose ACL Injury in Dogs?

To diagnose dogs with ACL or CCL rupture, veterinarians use x-rays, ultrasound imaging, arthroscopic surgery, physical examination, and surgery. In addition, an MRI scan is often used to confirm the diagnosis.

Physical Examination

Your dog needs a thorough physical exam to determine whether he has torn his ACL. The vet should be able to tell you this based on your dog’s symptoms and behavior.

If your dog shows signs of pain when walking, limping, or jumping, he may have a torn CCL. Your veterinarian can perform a simple test called the tibial thrust test. This involves gently pushing down on your dog’s knee joint. Likewise, if your dog yelps or cries in pain, he likely has a ruptured ACL.


An X-ray is a diagnostic tool to detect bone fractures, tumors, and other abnormalities. An X-ray uses radiation to internal image structures inside the body.

When diagnosing canine ACL tears, vets use an X-ray machine called a radiograph. Then, the dog lies on a table, and the veterinarian takes pictures of its knee joint. This helps determine whether there is damage to the ligament (ACL) and if surgery is needed.

Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasounds are great tools for diagnosing canine injuries. They’re noninvasive, painless, and relatively inexpensive. In addition, ultrasounds allow vets to view internal structures and organs in real-time.

Orthopedic Surgery

An orthopedist will determine if your dog needs surgery to stabilize the knee. For severe cases, vets recommend surgical intervention. Surgery involves cutting open the skin over the knee and removing damaged tissue. Graft replacement involves replacing the torn ACL with a synthetic material. Afterward, the surgeon stitches the wound closed. It has been reported that 85% of all orthopedic injuries in dogs are some form of ACL injury.

After the surgery, most dogs recover quickly and resume regular activity within two weeks. However, some dogs experience stiffness, swelling, bruising, and soreness at the incision site. These symptoms typically resolve within one week. Dogs who undergo arthroscopy should be monitored closely for signs of infection.

Treatment Options for Dog ACL Tears

The best treatments for ACL tears in dogs include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery. Surgery for dogs is typically recommended for severe cases.

Treatment Options for Dog ACL Tears
  • Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on healthcare services that help people and animals recover from illness or injury through exercise, manual manipulation, and movement. In addition, PTs work closely with patients to develop and implement treatment plans that address their specific goals and needs.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications (AIMs) treat inflammation and pain caused by ACL, arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, psoriasis, and many others. They reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Surgery is performed to repair dog tears. Several dog ACL surgery procedures are available, including arthroscopic surgery, open surgery, and graft replacement.
  • Arthroscopy is a type of surgery involving tiny instruments to view the inside of the joint. Arthroscopic surgery allows veterinarians to see the damaged area and remove any debris.
  • TPLO surgery (Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) is a surgical treatment option for treating ACL injuries in dogs. TPLO surgery aims to realign the tibia and femur bones and stabilize the knee joint. This allows the dog to walk normally again after the injury.

To perform this operation, a veterinarian makes a small incision over the injured area and removes bone fragments that may be causing pain. Then he uses a unique tool to cut through the ligament and reattach the two bones.

This simple procedure takes only a couple of hours to complete. However, there are some risks associated with TPLO surgery. One risk is infection. Another is that the dog may not heal properly and develop arthritis later in life.

For partially torn ACL, owners can treat the injured area themselves. After surgery, you should expect your dog to recover from a torn ACL after several weeks. Owners should expect their pets to limp for a few days following surgery. During this time, they should avoid strenuous activity and exercise.

Prevention Tips for CCL Injuries in Dogs

You can do several things to prevent CCL or “cranial cruciate ligament tears in dogs.

  1. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercises. Exercise helps strengthen muscles and bones and reduces stress levels.
  2. Make sure your dog wears proper footwear. Shoes should fit properly and provide support for the foot. If your dog is overweight, it may benefit from wearing a boot or wrap to protect the injured area. Many dogs today are clinically overweight. Unfortunately, they’re usually not just fat but also obese.
  3. Ensure your dog doesn’t jump too far or run too fast. Finally, make sure your dog walks on a leash whenever possible.
  4. Don’t let your dog play rough games like tug-of-war. These games can lead to torn ACLs.

Frequently Asked Questions

The healing process for ACL tears in dogs can vary significantly from individual to individual and even from case to case. In general, however, most ACL tears in dogs will likely require treatment or surgery to correct the tear and prevent further damage to the knee joint.

The cost of an ACL repair on a dog will vary depending on the severity of the injury and whether or not additional surgery is necessary. However, ACL repairs typically range between $7,000 and $10,000.

It depends on your dog’s weight, age, breed, health conditions, etc. If you’re going to take him out, make sure he’s well-hydrated before leaving home. Make sure he gets enough exercise and fresh air. Don’t let him get too hot or cold. If he’s been sick recently, give him plenty of fluids and observe his temperature.

If you take him outside, leave him alone for a short period. Dogs not used to walking freely might get nervous if left alone for too long. So it would be best to keep them close when you take them out.

Avoid letting him jump up on things when you’re back inside. This could cause him to hurt himself. Instead, put down some food and water bowls near where he’ll spend most of his time.

You should also ensure he doesn’t eat anything while you’re gone. He shouldn’t have any treats or snacks lying around, either. That way, he won’t feel like he has to go through any “hunger strike” just because you’ve left him behind.

Torn ACLs usually heal within three months if they are treated correctly. However, if you do not treat them properly, they can recover for up to 6 months. The best way to heal is to keep your dog active and make sure he gets plenty of exercise. This helps prevent scar tissue from forming around the injury site. It also strengthens his muscles so that when the ligament heals, it will be stronger.

Yes, a torn or ruptured ACL in dogs can be very painful. Dogs may yelp or cry out as they experience the pain and limp around. Treatment typically includes surgery to repair the ligament, followed by physical therapy to help restore mobility and joint function.

A few different surgical options can be considered for dogs with ACL tears. The most common type of surgery is an arthroscopic procedure, which uses tiny instruments to repair the muscle and tendon. Another option is a total joint replacement, where an implant or prosthetic device replaces the entire knee joint.

ACL tear is a common injury in dogs and cats. It can often result from various causes, including injuries sustained during play or from being stepped on by another animal. If you notice your dog exhibiting any unusual behavior or signs of discomfort – such as reluctance to walk or stand up – then it is worth consulting a veterinarian about his possible ACL tear.

In general, partial ACL tears in dogs heal on their own. However, depending on the severity of the tear and other factors (such as age, weight, etc.), some healing may occur with minimal or no intervention. Full rehabilitation should be done only if significant lameness or instability is due to the knee injury.

Surgery may or may not be required depending on the extent of the damage caused by the ACL tear. For example, if significant debris is left in or around the knee joint following an ACL injury, surgery is the best option to remove this debris and reduce any further chance of future injuries. However, conservative measures such as rest and rehabilitation might suffice if there are only isolated tears without other structural damage.

Some dog breeds are more prone to ACL tears than others, but the condition is not necessarily inherited. Instead, a dog’s ACL tear severity depends mainly on individual genetics and training.

No scientific evidence supports giving dogs Tylenol as a remedy for any ailment. While some pet owners may have successfully used this treatment, there’s no guarantee it will work for your dog. Plus, overdosing on Tylenol can be dangerous and even fatal. If you suspect your dog has an ACL tear or if they seem to be in pain, please consult with a veterinarian instead.

 The presence of an ACL tear does not always require the use of an x-ray. However, if there is significant instability or displacement of the knee joint, an x-ray may be necessary to determine the extent and severity of the damage.

If your dog has a ruptured ACL or CCL, the best course of action is to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment will likely involve surgery, including crutches, physical therapy, and medications to help heal.

CCL tear, also known as the cranial cruciate rupture ligament, is an injury common among active and athletic dogs. However, most people report that their dogs behave better after surgery, and many say they feel more in control of the situation. Some owners also say that their dogs are less destructive and have fewer accidents around the home.

In most cases where an ACL injury occurs during play or exercise, surgery is required to repair it. This procedure involves removing part or all of the torn ligament while leaving surrounding tissues intact. The patient typically returns home shortly after surgery and must regularly visit for follow-up examinations and adjustments as needed.

An ACL is a ligament that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (the larger of the two shinbones). The cruciate ligaments of dogs are located between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (foot bone), in front of the rear leg joint. The ACL helps stabilizes the knee joint and facilitates motion. Injury to this ligament can lead to instability of the joint, which in turn can cause pain, difficulty walking, and even partial or total paralysis. 

Many large breed dogs are at increased risk for an ACL injury. Still, some specific dog breeds linked to this condition include German Shepherds, Boxers, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Labrador Retrievers.

Small dogs don’t generally get injured as quickly as larger breeds. However, they can still be hurt if they’re clumsy or hit by a car. They also have shorter lives than large-breed dogs, so taking care of them and keeping them safe from injuries is essential.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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