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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.