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ACL Tear in Canines

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone has heard of the football player who has torn an ACL. Dogs can do the same thing. It can occur from a genetic ppredisposition a sudden injury, or from ongoing degeneration. This mostly happens in larger dogs, such as Labs and Goldens. We do see it in Beagles and Cocker Spaniels also. The ACL ligament, also known as the anterior cruciate ligament, connects the back of the femur with the front of the tibia. This one ligament helps keep the knee in place and keeps the tibia in position under the femur.

An exam and x-rays are required to help diagnose a torn ACL. During an exam, your veterinarian will look for a “drawer sign”. The tiba will slide forward, because there is nothing to hold it in place. There can be times when you do not get a drawer sign, but it is partially torn.

Most individuals will have lameness, ranging from mild to non-weight bearing. This condition needs to be treated with surgery. If left untreated, especially in bigger dogs, the lameness will worsen. The dog will not be able to stand on the leg without pain. The tibia and femur will begin to rub together and cause calcification, arthritis, and loss of joint fluid. There are different surgical techniques for different types of torn ACLs. Your veterinarian will recommend the surgery that best suits your canine companion. Recovery from surgery usually takes 16 weeks. Keeping him or her quiet during this time is usually the hardest thing about the after care.