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The most common causes of an anterior cruciate ligament tear in dogs

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is an important link between your dog’s leg bones and muscles and the knee joint. It provides a support structure that enables daily doggy activities, such as walking, digging and running.

Now, imagine tearing this ligament. Of course, it’s going to be painful, and it’s going to impact their movement as well. Such a tear can result in a wobbly back leg, with no real definition between the upper and lower parts.

There are many ways that your dog could experience an ACL rupture. Here are the three most common causes of ACL injuries and how they can be treated.


#1 – Too much strain, causing rotation of bones in the lower leg

Dogs that spend a lot of time with their hind legs partly or even fully flexed stand a higher chance of developing an ACL tear. The lower limb bone, or tibia, moves in a circular motion inside the hind leg, which can eventually cause the ligament to snap.


#2 – Your dog’s too heavy

Obesity is another common cause of ACL rupture. Excessive weight places pressure on the support structure of your dog’s hind limbs. If left untreated, a tear could develop even from the slightest of movements. Keep your dog active to reduce the effects of obesity.


#3 - Inconsistency in exercise throughout the week

If you don’t get to walk your dog on weekdays, be careful not to overload them with activities on the weekend. Dubbed as “Weekend Warrior Syndrome”, this is when we overwork our pets over a short period of time, increasing the risk of ACL injuries developing. Set aside a daily slot for exercise to ensure a consistent routine to keep your dog healthy without pushing the limits too far.


Treating an ACL injury

One of the most effective ways to treat a ruptured or torn ACL is through a surgical procedure that repairs the affected soft tissue and any bones that have also been damaged. A local anaesthetic is administered to minimise pain and the procedure only takes a few hours. Your dog will be back on their feet in no time. In rare cases, they display signs of pain or discomfort which will require follow-up treatments from your right veterinary practitioner.

Now that you know how ACL injuries occur, you can do your best to avoid them and keep your pet running around for many years to come. Think your dog may have ACL damage? Contact us today to get them the help they need.

Related Tag: Melbourne Veterinary Specialist Centre