What To Know About Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

If you watch sports, you probably cringe when you see an athlete fall and clutch their knee. As one of the important ligaments in charge of supporting the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is most likely what they tore.

Did you know that the same knee ligament in your pet can be torn? The issue still exists even if it is known by a different name—cranial cruciate ligament (CCL)].

What is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone (i.e., femur) to the shin bone (i.e., tibia), is essential for stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin thrusts forward away from the femur as your pet walks, causing instability and discomfort.

How does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets?

A multitude of factors contribute to a CCL rupture or tear in pets, including:

  • Ligament degeneration
  • Obesity
  • Poor physical condition
  • Genetics
  • Skeletal shape and configuration
  • Breed

In general, CCL rupture occurs because the ligament slowly degenerates over months or years, rather than an acute injury to a healthy ligament.

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

It can be difficult for pet owners to decide whether their pet requires veterinary attention when they notice symptoms of a CCL tear, especially if the tear is partial. However, a CCL rupture necessitates medical treatment, therefore you must make an appointment with our staff if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms:

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

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired?

Treatment for a torn CCL will depend on your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the best option, as an osteotomy- or suture-based technique is the only way to permanently manage the instability. However, medical management may also be an option.

Your pet may have torn their cranial cruciate ligament if they shuffle along on one back leg. Request an orthopedic examination by calling our staff.