A dog's cranial cruciate ligament (also known as the CCL or cruciate) functions similarly to a human's ACL and aids in proper knee function. If your dog has a cruciate ligament injury, your O’Fallon vet may recommend TPLO surgery to stabilize the 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 humans, the cruciate ligament in dogs is load-bearing because a dog's leg remains bent while standing. If your dog's cruciate ligament is injured or torn, the knee becomes unstable, limiting your dog'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 few weeks. The most common signs of a cruciate injury in dogs include:

  • Hind leg lameness and limping
  • Stiffness after resting 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 with your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed above. Many dogs with a single torn cruciate will later injure the other leg, causing severe mobility issues and pain for your dog.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - TPLO

If your dog is suffering from a torn cruciate our O’Fallon 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.

They make a cut from front to back through the tibia, then rotate the top section (the tibial plateau) backward until the angle between the tibia and femur is appropriately level. This knee modification prevents a problematic movement known as tibial thrust and allows your dog's knee to move freely without pain (once the healing process has been completed). Once the tibial plateau has been properly positioned, 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), but recovery from a cruciate injury takes time and patience. Full recovery from TPLO surgery can take anywhere between 12 and 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.

Is your dog showing signs of a cruciate injury? Contact our O’Fallon vets to learn more about the surgery.