What exactly are Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Animals?

When watching a sporting event, you probably cringe when an athlete falls to the ground clutching their knee. You know, they most likely tore their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the primary knee-stabilizing ligaments.

Did you know that your pet’s knee ligaments are susceptible to rupture? Although known by another name — cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) —the problem is the same.


What is a pet cranial cruciate ligament tear?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone (i.e., femur) to the leg bone (i.e., tibia), is crucial for knee joint stability. When the CCL ruptures or tears, the shin moves away from the femur as your companion walks, resulting in instability and pain.


How do canines sustain damage to their cranial cruciate ligament?

A CCL rupture or tear in canines is caused by a multitude of factors, including:

  • Ligament degeneration
  • Obesity
  • Poor physical condition
  • Genetics
  • Skeletal shape and configuration
  • Breed

In most cases, the CCL ruptures due to gradual degeneration over months or years, as opposed to an acute injury to a healthy ligament.

What are the symptoms of a cranial cruciate ligament rupture in animals?

A CCL tear, mainly a partial rupture, can result in various symptoms, making it difficult for pet owners to determine whether their animal requires veterinary care. However, a ruptured CCL necessitates medical attention, and you must schedule an appointment with our team if your companion exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness on a hind leg
  • Difficulty standing after sitting
  • Problem during the process of sitting
  • Difficulty jumping into the car or on furniture
  • Decreased activity level
  • Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
  • Reduced range of motion in the knee


How is the cranial cruciate ligament repaired when it is torn?

Your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability will determine the treatment for a ruptured CCL. An osteotomy or suture-based technique is the only permanent method to address the flux, so surgery is typically the best option. Nevertheless, medical treatment may also be an option.

A torn cranial cruciate ligament may cause a hind-leg limp in your companion. To schedule an orthopedic examination, please get in touch with our staff.