Perhaps the most common orthopedic injury among dogs is CCL tears. Because of this, there has been plenty of research around the best ways to correct this problem. But before a treatment can be determined, it is important that the injury itself is properly diagnosed first. There are many ways to diagnose CCL injuries among dogs, but the most common way that veterinarians use is to get a thorough patient history of the events that led up to the incident and a description of the moment that the dog appeared to get hurt. The vet should conduct an evaluation during active sitting and walking, examining the joint for excessive heat or swelling, observing any signs of a tibial thrust and evaluating cranial drawer signs.
Depending upon the dogs level of pain and impairment, your veterinarian may ask permission to sedate your dog using anesthetics so your dog can properly relax. Usually, dogs are under lots of stress from the pain and anxiety from just being at the veterinary clinic can tense up their muscles surrounding the knee, making it difficult to properly evaluate the knee joint and ligament injuries. Therefore, sedation may be required. Let’s look at some of the reasons that can lead to CCL injury.
- Obesity – In the United States, about 50 percent of animals are considered overweight. Because of the increased stress that added weight puts on the body, dogs are more susceptible to injuries in the joints and ligaments than leaner dogs.
- Lack of exercise – As pet owners take on more responsibility in the workplace and spend less time at home, they become less attentive to their pet’s needs. Back in the day, pets were more free to roam around and get exercise daily. But today’s stricter leash laws have hindered this. Lack of exercise means their muscles and ligaments are not conditioned, making them more vulnerable to injury.
- Genetic stresses – When a dog has underlying orthopedic issues due to thier genetic makeup early in their life, they may exhibit problems that they learn to compensate for and we don’t see the early warning signs like limping or crying. When a traumatic incident does occur, it may be too late to prevent the injury. Essentially your dog may be predestined to get injured due to genetic makeup.
- Angle of the joint – Usually, we only think about the fact that our dog’s knees are always in flexion. Because of this, the CCL ligament always carries weight on it. This is not the case with humans, because we walk straight on our knees.
There are stories about a dog injuring his CCL and then rested its way to full recovery. While this is not impossible, it is a rare occurrence. If a dog applies weight on even a mild CCL tear, you should notice toe-touching tenderness to the dog’s gate.
Dogs with moderate partial tears to full tears, often they will require CCL surgery for dogs. Also, it is important to remember that, most of the time, dogs will have an accompanying meniscus injury. Go to an animal referral hospital for orthopedic injuries or see veterinary surgeons in Philadelphia if you think your dog has a CCL injury. Do not ignore the signs of injury hoping they will improve on their own.