Dog cruciate ligament injuries in dogs cause significant pain, lameness and mobility issues in the affected leg or legs. The cruciate ligaments are located in the knee joint and help to stabilise the joint during movement. There are two cruciate ligaments in a dog's knee; the cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament and the caudal (posterior) cruciate ligament. The cranial cruciate ligament is more commonly affected by injury.
There are two main types of cruciate ligament injuries in dogs:
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
- Partial cranial cruciate ligament tear
Cruciate ligament injuries in dogs can occur due to a variety of reasons. Injuries can occur suddenly, as a result of trauma for example, however it much more commonly happens gradually over time, due to degeneration of the ligament, much like a fraying rope. Certain breeds are more predisposed, (Labradors, Rottweilers, Boxers, West Highland White Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Mastiffs, Saint Bernard’s and Newfoundlands for example). Other factors such as being overweight, conformation, hormonal imbalance and certain inflammatory conditions of the joint, are thought to also play a role.
At least half of the dogs that have a cruciate ligament disease in one knee will most probably develop the same or a similar problem in the other, sometime in the future. In addition to this, partial tearing of the cruciate ligament in dogs, frequently progresses to a full tear over time.
Signs and Symptoms of Cruciate Ligament Injury or Disease?
Signs and symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury in dogs:
- Sudden lameness or holding up their affected leg
- The knee may appear swollen due to inflammation
- Your dog may avoid putting weight on the injured leg
- Your dog may show signs of pain when the affected leg is touched or manipulated
- Your dog may have difficulty walking, and their gait may appear abnormal or stiff
Limping is the most common sign of cruciate ligament injuries in dogs. This may appear suddenly during or after exercise, or it may be progressive and intermittent. Some dogs are simultaneously affected in both knees, and these dogs often find it difficult to rise from a prone position and have a very “pottery” gait. In severe cases, dogs cannot get up at all.