Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

The cruciate ligament in dogs is a ligament present in the knee joint in pets. A rupture or damage to the ligament can cause severe lameness and has to be treated before it causes severe and permanent bone damage. The structure of the knee joint consists of two ligaments that cross each other and maintain proper alignment of the tibia and femur bones.

They also provide stability to the knee structure during motion. The two ligaments are termed as anterior ligament and posterior ligament. Dogs that suffer from anterior ligament rupture experience difficulty walking, pain and lameness due to the unstable motion of the tibia and femur. Pet owners should notice any symptoms of ruptured ligaments and seek prompt vet help to prevent the development of arthritis.

Symptoms of Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

  • Lameness that returns after a short period of recovery
  • Swollen knee
  • Inability to put pressure on the affected knee
  • Pain and discomfort

Causes of Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Most pets suffer from a ligament rupture during exercise, jumping or running. The anterior cruciate ligament tears due to excess pressure exerted if the pet is involved in an accident or falls during outdoor play. Pets may also suffer from a ruptured ligament due to obesity which exerts excess weight on the ligaments.

Diagnosis of Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

The vet will position the pet's femur and check for any movement of the tibia. Pets with a ruptured anterior ligament exhibit abnormal tibia movement when the femur is positioned. Some pets may require sedation during diagnosis in order to confirm ligament rupture when the muscles are relaxed. In addition, the vet will perform an x-ray to determine bone damage and the onset of arthritis. Swelling of the knee is also a clinical indicator of ruptured anterior ligament in pets.

Treatment of Ruptured Anterior Ligament in Dogs

The ruptured anterior ligament can be successfully treated with surgery. The type of surgery involved is decided after evaluation of the severity of ligament tear. In most cases, the ligament and surrounding tissue is sutured together with artificial material. Pets have to be kept from all outdoor activities and require a long period of rest to recuperate. The dog's movement will be restricted for nearly 15 days after which the vet will examine the pet to determine progress.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

This is another surgical intervention to treat anterior ligament rupture in dogs. The vet will cut the tibial bone and level it to suit the knee joint. It's then held in place with screws and plates to promote healing. The angle of leveling of the tibial plateau is crucial as it determines recovery.

Other Treatment Options

Pets not suited for surgery are treated with non steroidal anti inflammatory medication that reduces pain and inflammation. Along with mild exercise the vet will supplement the dog's diet with supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin. It's also important to maintain the pet's ideal weight to reduce pressure on the knees.

Pet owners should conduct a vet check on pet's that exhibit lameness as anterior ligament rupture that isn't treated, leads to degenerative joint disease and discomfort. Dogs treated surgically also require proper home care and nutrition to speed up recovery.