Damage to the cruciate ligaments that can be found within the stifle of dogs is one of the common injuries that are seen by orthopaedic veterinarians. Injury to the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which is sometimes referred to as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), causes the dog to become lame which can be rapid or gradual in onset, depending on the severity of the injury. The CCL can be damaged by a variety of causes including obesity and trauma, but some breeds are more prone to injuring or tearing the cruciate ligament than others.
Injuries to the CCL tend to occur in younger large breeds, especially between the ages of one and three years old and often in both knees at the same time. However, they can happen at any time and in either leg. Breeds often susceptible to CCL issues include:
It is debatable as to how high at risk these breeds are, but they are certainly the more common breeds seen by veterinarians for CCL injuries.
It is not just larger breeds that are prone to damage to the ligament though. Some smaller breeds are just as likely to need treatment for injury to the CCL including:
•West Highland White Terrier
While breed can definitely be a factor when it comes to CCL issues, they are often accompanied by other causes including obesity, over-exertion and hereditary disorders. Many of the breeds that are prone to CCL are also prone to other joint problems such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.
Treatment for CCL damage depends on the severity of the injury, but often includes surgery and immobilization along with anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Some dogs may also be left susceptible to other joint problems such as arthritis.
Fortunately there are ways to reduce the risk of problems with the cruciate ligament. Ensuring that dogs are kept otherwise healthy and safe will certainly help to limit the chance of damage occurring. As obesity is one of the major problems often associated with CCL damage, it is also important to make sure that dogs are kept on a well-balanced diet that has been tailored to their needs and requirements.
It is also important to not let dogs over-exert themselves when it comes to exercise. While regular exercise is definitely a must, it is important to keep dogs safe. If they have been resting for a long period of time, such as in kennels or had injuries, exercise should be introduced gradually.
While preventing damage to ligaments and tendons is not always possible, owners should keep their dogs as safe as possible to at least reduce the risk dramatically, and always remember to seek veterinary advice if they are concerned.