Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears in Dogs: Treating the Injury

A Common Leg Injury in Dogs

Cranial Cruciate Ligament

Leg injuries in dogs are one of the most commonly experienced problems. Among this, the frequent injury is a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear which is much similar to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that occur in humans. The cranial cruciate ligament (otherwise, the anterior cruciate ligament) is one among the several ligaments in the knee that becomes the easy victim.

Where the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) is Located?

Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Location

These ligaments are present in the knee that connect the femur which is the thigh bone to the tibia. The 3 main functions that CCL has, is to prevent cranial displacement, to prevent Hyperextension that occur in the knee, and to prevent the internal rotation of the tibia. In dogs, it is located in the knee joint of their back leg. When these ligaments rupture, instability in the joint occurs or lameness is the typical result of CCL. In case if this problem is left untreated or unnoticed, the injury can lead to joint degeneration or even worse, for further injury to other connective tissues.

The knee joint supported with four articular ligaments and are made up of the lateral and medial collateral ligaments of the stifle. The CCL itself affixes to the large bone in the thigh (that is, the femur), and covers the stifle joint before it gets connected to the tibia. These bones, tibia and fibula are located in the lower leg of the two larger bones.

The meniscus is a cartilage which is present in between the tibia and femur whose primary function is to move by absorbing the impact created, such as jumping or running. Any complaints regarding the torn cartilage, it represents this fibrous band of meniscus in humans.

Dogs that are at a Greater Risk for Injury


The larger and overweight canines are more often and susceptible to a CCL tear and its effects are much more severe. While an injury occurs in all breeds irrespective of the sizes and weights of dogs, the most often is observed in such large breeds like:

* The Bulldog

* The Chow

* The Golden retriever

* The German shepherd

* The Labrador retriever

* The Rottweiler

* The Saint Bernard

Ruptures Related to Age

Apart from the size and weight, there are injuries that occur with respect to the age. Mostly, these CCL ruptures occur in dogs aged from five to seven years old, and are merely results in the degeneration of stifle joint. In younger dogs under four years of age, injury as the reason for ligament tear is very common. As a conclusion, the large and younger dogs are more likely to sustain injuries than the smaller canine breeds.

How an Injury Can Develop

At the time, when the ligament gets twisted due to some sudden activities, an acute rupture or injury can occur. This causes the tissue to over-rotate or extend to reach a hypertension level. Sudden activities may involve the usual habits such as, a run. In the case of older animals, the weakened tissues itself can cause the joints to become unstable that would result in a partial tear later. If this is left as such then it would subsequently lead to some larger injury.

The risk of a CCL tear is, therefore, greater in older dogs, or in the dog’s characteristics like larger size or overweight. So, measures should be taken immediately to correct the poor condition before it gets worse.

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