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Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Treatment

  • Small dogs (less than 30 pounds)

    Small dogs often do well without surgery. Your veterinarian may recommend that you strictly confine your dog for six weeks, may suggest that your dog lose weight if he is overweight and may prescribe a short course of anti-inflammatory medication.

    If your dog fails to improve over a 6 to 8 week period, surgery may be recommended.

  • Large dogs (greater than 30 pounds)

    Large dogs clearly benefit from surgery because medical management usually results in chronic lameness. There are many different surgical options. The basic principle of the surgery is to stabilize the femur on the tibia. This can be accomplished by placing implants within the knee joint, or around the knee joint, or by altering the dynamics of the joint itself. Your veterinarian may prefer a certain surgical technique or suggest referral to a veterinary surgical specialist for consideration of some of the more complex surgical procedures.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Depending on the type of surgery that has been performed, your dog may go home with a soft padded bandage on the leg. If this is the case, check the toes daily for swelling or discomfort and keep the bandage clean and dry by putting a plastic bag over the foot when your dog goes outside to go to the bathroom.

    If there is no bandage, the incision can be monitored for swelling, redness or discharge.

    Stitches or staples should be removed at 10-14 days.

    Regardless of the surgical technique used, your dog should be kept quiet for a period of six weeks, with no jumping on or off furniture. Don't let your pet go up or down stairs if possible and allow only short leash walks to go to the bathroom.

    Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed for the first week following surgery.

    After six weeks you can begin to increase your dog's exercise slowly and gradually until he returns to his normal levels approximately sixteen weeks after surgery.

    In cases of acute cruciate ligament rupture there is nothing to prevent the injury from occurring. When the problem is intermittent and more chronic, prompt veterinary attention and treatment can reduce the amount of arthritic damage that will occur within the knee joint.

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