Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee is a well-known source of disabling injury among humans. It can strike elite athletes or weekend warriors, and usually requires surgical repair. Just like knee injuries in football, injury to the ACL is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs.

Why Is My Dog Limping?

This injury is due to a partial or complete tear of a ligament inside the stifle (knee). The resulting instability leads to pain and arthritis. The CCL is vital for maintaining stability within the knee joint because it keeps the upper bone (the femur) from sliding off the lower bone (the tibia). In most cases, the tear occurs abruptly, often in association with exercise or activity. It results in a sudden limping with the dog often unwilling to bear any weight on the affected leg.

 Repairing Cruciate Disease (ACL)

Stabilization is recommended for the ACL for best short and long-term function, quality of life, and comfort. Stabilization is achieved surgically, either with a joint realignment surgery (TPLO or TTA) or with a pseudo-ligament surgically placed outside the joint (tight rope or lateral suture). These procedures are considered the standard of care and all should lead to near complete recovery. At Goldorado we perform a “tight-rope” repair to replace the ligament with a braided synthetic material called “FiberWire”. This technique allows for excellent return to function, avoids cutting into the bone to realign the joint, and is a more affordable option for surgical stabilization of cruciate disease.

An Ounce of Prevention

How to avoid this in the first place:

  • Keep your dog’s weight down in the appropriate range.
  • Use nutrition to help build strong and healthy joints (J/D food, Cosequin supplements)
  • Keeping them from jumping up, suddenly going from 0-50mph in 2 seconds, and other normal doggy behavior that is darn well impossible to prevent…good luck with that!

If you have a large breed dog who may be predisposed to cruciate disease, we recommend pet insurance to help prepare for any unexpected healthcare costs and to make sure your pet gets the best medical care.

So remember to be safe out there this spring and let us know if you have any questions. Both our doctors have extensive experience diagnosing and repairing cruciate disease, if your dog suddenly comes up lame we are here to help!