If your dog has a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL/ACL), your Los Angeles vet may recommend surgery to repair the damaged knee and get your dog up and running again. Here are 3 common surgeries for treating this knee injury in dogs.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

Your dog's knees must be healthy and pain-free for him to maintain an active lifestyle. While your veterinarian can recommend a variety of high-quality dog foods and supplements to help keep your dog's joints in good shape, cruciate injuries (also known as ACL injuries) can happen and cause your dog a lot of pain.

What is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament in dogs?

The dog's cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, ACL, or cruciate) is one of two ligaments in the leg that connect the shin bone to the thigh bone and allows for proper (pain-free) knee function.

Knee pain caused by a torn cruciate ligament can strike suddenly during exercise or develop gradually over time. If your dog's cruciate ligament is injured and it continues to run, jump and play, the injury will worsen quickly.

What causes knee pain in dogs?

If your pooch has a torn cruciate, pain is caused by the knee's instability and a motion called 'tibial thrust'.

The transmission of weight up the dog's shin bone (tibia) and across the knee causes the shinbone to "thrust" forward in relation to the dog's thigh bone, causing tibial thrust (femur). Because the top of the tibia is sloped, the forward thrust movement occurs, and the dog's injured cruciate cannot prevent the unwanted movement.

What are the signs and symptoms of a knee injury in dogs?

If your dog is suffering from an injured cruciate and experiencing knee pain, they will not be able to run or walk normally and will likely display other symptoms such as:

  • Difficulties rising off of the floor (particularly after rest, following exercise)
  • Pronounced limping in their hind legs
  • Stiffness following exercise

What treatment is available for dogs with a torn cruciate?

Cruciate injuries are rarely self-healing. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of a torn cruciate ligament, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have the problem diagnosed so that treatment can begin before the symptoms worsen. When a dog's cruciate ligament is torn, he or she is likely to injure the other knee as well.

If your dog is diagnosed with a torn cruciate your vet is likely to recommend one of three knee surgeries to help your canine companion regain normal mobility.

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization is a treatment option for dogs under 50 pounds that works by preventing tibial thrust with the help of a surgically placed suture. The suture tightens the joint and prevents the tibia from sliding from front to back, stabilizing the dog's knee. This gives the cruciate ligament time to heal and the muscles around the knee a chance to strengthen. In small to medium-sized dogs, ELSS surgery is a relatively quick and simple procedure with a high success rate.

TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

TPLO is a safe and effective treatment for a torn cruciate ligament that aims to decrease tibial thrust without relying on the dog's cruciate. This procedure entails a complete cut through the top of the tibia (the tibial plateau), followed by a rotation of the tibial plateau to alter its angle. Finally, a metal plate is placed over the cut bone to keep it stable while it heals. Following TPLO surgery, your dog's leg will gradually heal and strengthen over several months.

TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA is similar to TPLO in that it involves surgically separating the front part of the tibia from the rest of the bone, then using a spacer to move the front section up and forward. Much of the tibia thrust movement is prevented by this surgery. A bone plate will be attached, just like in TPLO surgery, to keep the front section of the tibia in its proper position until the bone has healed. TTA surgery is best suited for dogs with a steep tibial plateau (angle of the top section of the tibia).

Which type of knee surgery is right for my dog?

Your vet will consider your dog's age, weight, size, and lifestyle after a thorough examination of his or her knee movement and geometry, and then recommend the treatment that is best for your dog's situation.

How long will it take for my dog to recover from ACL surgery?

The truth is that fully recovering from knee surgery takes time. While many dogs can walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and return to normal activities can take anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. Follow your veterinarian's post-operative instructions carefully to get your dog back to normal activity levels. Allowing your dog to run and jump before the knee has fully healed could result in re-injury.

To find out more about knee surgery options to treat your dog's cruciate injury, contact Washington Dog and Cat Hospital today, to book a consultation with one of our Los Angeles vets.