As a board-certified small animal veterinarian, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince cares for dogs and cats at a number of practices in and around Elmhurst, Illinois. In his practice, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince focuses on orthopaedic care and surgery.
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Located in the back leg and also known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), this structure is responsible for connecting the rear of the upper leg bone with the front of the lower leg bone. This connection keeps the leg stable, but can tear if too much tension is placed on the joint.
Overweight dogs are at particular risk of an ACL tear, as are such breeds as the Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and Labrador Retriever. Many cases develop gradually, with the ligament weakening to the point where it ruptures suddenly, though it is possible for a dog to torque the leg and cause a sudden tear to the ligament.
Dogs who present with a tear, regardless of cause, undergo assessment that involves testing for abnormal forward momentum. Positive results of this or related testing most often leads to a recommendation for ligament replacement surgery, followed by restricted activity. Dogs ineligible for this course of treatment may receive a recommendation of medical management and minimal exercise.