A dog's cranial cruciate ligament (also called the CCL or cruciate ) works much the same as a human's ACL and helps your pup's knee function correctly. If your dog has an injured cruciate, your Charlotte vet may recommend TPLO surgery to stabilize your dog's knee and allow pain-free movement.
Your ACL vs Your Dogs CCL
The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs, (often referred to as the CCL, ACL or cruciate) is a strip of tissue connecting the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone). In people, this ligament is known as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL.
Unlike the ACL in people, in dogs, the cruciate ligament is load-bearing due to the fact that a dog's leg remains bent while they are standing. If your dog's cruciate becomes injured or torn, your dog's knee will become unstable, reducing your pup's ability to run and walk normally and causing pain.
Signs of a Cruciate Injury in Dogs
Symptoms of a cruciate injury in dogs can appear suddenly, however, they more often develop over a period of a few weeks. The most common signs of a cruciate injury in dogs include:
- Hind leg lameness and limping
- Stiffness after rest, following exercise
- Swelling around the knee
- Difficulty rising and jumping
If your dog has a mildly injured cruciate but continues activities such as long walks, running or jumping, the injury will become more severe and symptoms will become increasingly more pronounced.
Make an appointment to see your vet if your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above. Many dogs with a single torn cruciate will go on to injure the other leg soon afterwards, leading to severe mobility issues and pain for your pooch.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO
If your dog is suffering from a torn cruciate our Charlotte veterinary specialists may recommend TPLO or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery to treat the injury.
TPLO to correct your dog's knee injury eliminates the need for the cranial cruciate ligament by reconfiguring the inner workings of the knee.
The process involves making a cut through the tibia from front to back, then rotating the top section (the tibial plateau) backward until the angle between the tibia and femur is appropriately level. This alteration to the knee area prevents a problematic movement known as tibial thrust and helps your dog's knee to move well without pain (once the healing process has been completed). Once the tibial plateau is in the desired position a metal plate is attached to the bone to help stabilize the two sections while they heal.
Your Dog's Recovery from TPLO Surgery
Most dogs will be able to walk on the leg as soon as 24 hours after surgery, (and most will be bearing moderate amounts of weight on the leg within 2 weeks) however it's very important to note that recovery from a cruciate injury takes time and patience. Expect full recovery from TPLO surgery to take anywhere from 12-16 weeks.
Following your veterinarian's post-operative instructions will help your dog to avoid re-injuring the leg while it is healing. Dogs must be prevented from running or jumping after TPLO surgery until the knee has had adequate time to heal. Typically, dogs can return to full physical activity about 6 months after TPLO surgery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.