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Breed Of The Month

Torn Knee Ligament in Dogs



  • Dogs less than 33 lbs (15 kg) may be treated conservatively as outpatients; 65 percent improve or are normal within six months
  • Dogs greater than 33 lbs (15 kg) should be treated with stabilization surgery; only 20 percent improve or are normal within six months with conservative medical management
  • Following surgery, the use of ice packs and physical therapy (such as range-of-motion exercises, massage, and electrical muscle stimulation) are important for improvement
  • Weight control is an important component for decreasing stress on the stifle joint
  • Stabilization surgery is recommended for all dogs, as it speeds the rate of recovery, reduces joint degeneration, and enhances function


A variety of techniques other than surgery are sometimes used to secure the tibia to the femur and restore stability. An implant can be used to repair the cruciate attachment to the joint. If you wish an alternative to surgery, your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment.


Your veterinarian may also prescribe medications for pain and inflammation if your pet's condition warrants them.


Living and Management


After the condition has been diagnosed and your pet has gone through the initial stage of treatment, management will depend on the particular method of treatment you and your veterinarian decided on. Most surgical techniques require two to four months of rehabilitation. If conformational abnormalities have been determined, it is wise to avoid breeding your pet to prevent passing along the gene. A second surgery may be required in 10 to 15 percent of cases, because of subsequent damage to the meniscus (a crescent-shaped cartilage located between the femur and tibia in the stifle). Regardless of surgical technique, the success rate generally is better than 85 percent.


Comments  4

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  • Using a knee brace
    04/12/2016 10:54am

    I have a 70 lb mutt who tore her ACL last year running in the snow. We went to the vet when we started noticing her limping, and sure enough it was her CCL. We wanted to try avoiding surgery, she was already 10 years old and I really didn't want to have to put her through it. We restricted almost all of her activity for 8 and found this awesome Ortocanis dog knee brace online which helped to stabilize her leg while the ligament was repairing itself - http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html

    About 6 weeks in we started to notice a noticeable improvement and a year later my 11 year old is doing just fine!

  • Alternatives to surgery
    04/28/2016 05:25pm

    A torn ACL is often the main culprit of limping and pain in dogs. My friend's dog has this happen to him and he decided not to operate on the dog. The vet had suggested checking out different support devices to help stabilize the knee and help the tissue to repair itself. He ended up buying the Ortocanis dog knee brace and still uses it to this day over a year later.. when he brings the dog to play at the park or even just on cold days when his dog seems a little stiff.

    It can be overwhelming when this happens to you but there are lots of treatment alternatives that people should be aware of..

  • Lateral suture surgery
    05/27/2016 01:43pm

    I have a 6 year old beagle who tore her ACL last year. It was a difficult moment for us and it was hard to know what the right move was for treating her. There is so much information out there on the subject and really no consensus. We did the lateral suture surgery on my dog mainly because of her smaller size and luckily for her and for us it was a success. We also ended up getting a dog knee brace from Ortocanis which we used during the recovery process about 5 days after she had the operation. Whether these things can work for other dog owners in the same situation I'm not sure, I'm just happy to say that my active dog has got her life back. This is what we used - http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html

  • TLPO surgery
    06/15/2016 08:22pm

    We went with the surgery for my beagle. She was 5 at the time and I didn't want to deal with any further complications down the road from not operating. I understood all of the associated risks but decided it was the best option for us. The recovery process was tough, but we used the Ortocanis dog knee brace http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html as a way of helping support the knee as it healed. If I had to go back and do it all again, I wouldn't have done anything different. It'd be great though to never have to go through something like this ever again..