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CCL Tears in Dogs

Do you know what the ACL is in humans? It is a major stabilizing ligament in the knee that is commonly injured while playing sports with running and pivoting movements. Dogs have this ligament too, but it is called a CCL, the cranial cruciate ligament.

CCL Tears

The CCL in dogs is a ligament that is important for stabilizing the knee. CCL tears are the most common reasons for hind limb lameness, pain, and subsequent arthritis. A tear can be the result of a combination of factors including degeneration of the ligament, obesity, conformation, and breed. The injury is usually subtle and slow that takes place over several months or years, and rarely a sudden "traumatic" ruptured a healthy ligament. A CCL tear can be a full or partial tear. Cruciate tears can affect dogs of all sizes and ages. Some breeds are known to have higher incidence of tears such as Rottweilers, Staffordshire Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers.

Signs and symptoms of a CCL tear are:

  • Swelling 

  • Limping

  • Reduced movement of the knee

  • Reluctance to exercise

  • Hind leg lameness 

  • Weight shifting to one side when standing 

  • Having the hind leg extended when sitting


A CCL tear is diagnosed through observing the dog's gait, palpation of the knee, and x-rays. A CCL tear can be treated surgically or conservatively and depends on the activity level of the dog, the age of the dog, and if it is a full or partial tear. A certified canine rehabilitation therapist can help both with conservative management or post-operative care. Contact Pawsitive Impact Rehabilitation today to see how we can help your pup with a CCL tear.

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