What Causes Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets?

You probably cringe when you see an athlete fall while you’re watching a sporting event and clutch their knee. You are aware that they most likely tore their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a vital ligament in charge of stabilizing the knee.

Did you know that your pet can tear the same knee ligament? Although called by a different name—cranial cruciate ligament (CCL)—the problem is the same.

What is a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which joins the femur (the thigh bone) and the tibia (the shin bone), is crucial for maintaining the stability of the knee joint. Walking causes instability and discomfort for your pet when the CCL ruptures or tears because the shin moves away from the femur.

How does the cranial cruciate ligament become damaged in pets?

A multitude of factors contribute to a CCL rupture or tear in pets, including:

  • Ligament degeneration
  • Obesity
  • Poor physical condition
  • Genetics
  • Skeletal shape and configuration
  • Breed

Instead of an acute injury to a healthy ligament, CCL rupture typically results from the ligament slowly deteriorating over months or years.

What are signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

It can be difficult for pet owners to decide whether their animal needs veterinary care because a CCL tear, especially a partial tear, can result in symptoms of varying severity. But if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms of a CCL rupture, you must make an appointment with our staff right away:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness on a hind leg
  • Difficulty standing after sitting
  • Difficulty during the process of sitting
  • Difficulty jumping into the car or on furniture
  • Decreased activity level
  • Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
  • Decreased range of motion in the knee

How can a torn cranial cruciate ligament be repaired?

Treatment for a torn CCL will depend on your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability. Surgery is typically the best option, as an osteotomy- or suture-based technique is the only way to permanently manage the instability. However, medical management may also be an option.

If your pet limps on a hind leg, they may have torn their cranial cruciate ligament. Give our team a call to schedule an orthopedic exam.