Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

When you witness athletes injuring their knees during sports events, it’s likely due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Surprisingly, pets can experience a similar knee ligament tear known as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear. Despite the name difference, the problem remains the same.

So, what exactly is a CCL tear in pets? The cranial cruciate ligament connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee joint. When the CCL tears, the shin bone moves forward during your pet’s movement, leading to instability and discomfort.

Various factors contribute to CCL tears in pets, including ligament degeneration, obesity, poor physical condition, genetics, skeletal shape, and breed. In most cases, CCL tears occur gradually over time rather than as a result of an acute injury.

Spotting signs of a CCL tear in your pet can be challenging, as symptoms can vary in severity. However, certain signs indicate the need for veterinary care, such as pain, stiffness, hind leg lameness, difficulty sitting or standing, decreased activity, muscle atrophy in the affected leg, and limited knee motion.

When it comes to repairing a torn cranial cruciate ligament, the treatment approach depends on factors like your pet’s activity level, size, age, and the degree of knee instability. Surgery is often the recommended option, as it provides a permanent solution through osteotomy- or suture-based techniques. However, medical management may be suitable in some cases.

If your pet exhibits hind leg limping, it could be a sign of a torn cranial cruciate ligament. Don’t hesitate to contact our team and schedule an orthopedic exam to ensure your furry companion receives the necessary care.