What is Cranial Cruciate Rupture in Dogs, and How Can It Be Avoided

dog CCL Injury

Our furry friends love to run, jump and play. As they age, however, they may face some physical and orthopedic injuries that can significantly limit our interaction with them. According to canine rehabilitation specialists, cranial cruciate rupture in dogs is among the most common injuries in pooches as they head into their golden years. 

What is the cranial cruciate ligament?

The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is one of the ligaments found in the stifle joint of dogs. It is anatomically similar to the anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in our knees, which connects our femur and tibia.

As a major ligament, the CCL holds the joint in place and prevents excessive movements of the joint. This ligament also acts as a shock absorber and carries the weight for most of the dog’s body. Because of these essential functions, this ligament is very prone to cranial cruciate rupture.

cranial Cruciate Ligament injury

Why does the cranial cruciate ligament rupture?

We experience ACL rupture primarily because of a single major traumatic injury. However, our dogs get cranial cruciate rupture primarily because of multiple micro-injuries. 

Even simple activities such as running and jumping can cause these minute injuries, which can accumulate over time. Once these injuries occur, the degeneration process speeds up the natural wear-and-tear of their stifle joints. And often, genetic and environmental factors place higher risks for dogs to have these degenerative conditions.

How can I understand whether my dog has this problem or not?

There are certain signs you need to watch out for to know if your dog has a cranial cruciate rupture. If your dog partially bears weight or does not bear weight at all in a single limb, then it may have acute CCL rupture. It becomes especially true if your dog appears to be in pain. 

Sometimes, your dog may have chronic CCL rupture, and you can see it if your dog has swollen stifles. Additionally, they will walk with a limp leg, and you will observe how this will get worse over time. 

Is it related to any other health issue?

The occurrence of cranial cruciate rupture is actually related to a myriad of health conditions. Risks of CCL injury is high for dogs with obesity because of the additional weight placed on the joints. Also, the skeletal composition and breed of the dog may pose some structural issues that can further complicate the CCL injury. A generally poor physical condition can also make CCL worse.

Treatment for CCL

In instances of cranial cruciate ruptures, a canine rehabilitation specialist would recommend surgery. This surgery is also recommended to be accompanied by physical rehabilitation. 

While there are other conservative treatments that can alleviate some symptoms, surgery is by far the most effective. Surgeries of CCL rupture in dogs have success rates of 90%. It entails that most dogs will function well after the operation.

How to avoid CCL rupture

The treatment procedures mentioned above can get so expensive. Any canine rehabilitation specialist would rather tell you to avoid these treatments in the first place. As a loving dog owner, you should minimize the risk factors as early as you can. 

Firstly, you should watch out for the physical condition and bodyweight of your dog. These are the most common things that you, as a dog owner, can control. To avoid complications, consistent physical conditioning and monitoring of food are highly recommended. 

Additionally, a canine rehabilitation specialist would recommend you avoid inbreeding to avoid future CCL ruptures. It becomes especially true in breeds that have a higher risk to develop cranial cruciate ruptures. These breeds include Labrador Retriever, Saint Bernard, Mastiff, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Akita, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and Staffordshire Terrier. Through avoiding inbreeding, especially of these breeds, you are making sure that your dog’s offspring will have better health.

Lastly, you should get in touch with an expert canine rehabilitation specialist. This team of veterinarians and animal experts have the knowledge and skill to diagnose and treat your dog. With a competent canine rehabilitation specialist, you can be sure that your dog’s current condition will ease. Moreover, you can help minimize more sophisticated complications in the future.