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Healthy Dogs

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CCL Injuries in Dogs

If your dog goes lame in one of his hind legs, he may have torn or ruptured his cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL – similar to the ACL in humans. This ligament connects the back of the femur (the bone above the knee) with the front of the tibia (the bone below the knee). The CCL is responsible for keeping the tibia in place beneath the femur and stabilizing the knee joint.

There are multiple causes of dog CCL injuries, including activity, breed, age, and obesity.


Symptoms of CCL Injuries in Dogs

CCL injuries in dogs are one of the most commonly seen orthopedic problems.

Depending on the severity of the CCL injury, a dog’s symptoms might range from having a hint of lameness to being unable to bear weight on the injured leg. A dog with an CCL injury may also have swelling on the inside of the knee.

One indicator of a torn CCL in dogs is the presence of the "drawer sign." This means that when the veterinarian holds the dog’s femur in place, the tibia can be pulled forward in a manner similar to a drawer sliding open. However, the lack of the drawer sign does not mean there is not damage to the CCL.

In addition to a complete physical exam, your veterinarian will probably take X-rays of your dog's knee to investigate the extent of damage and rule out other possible causes of lameness. X-rays will allow your veterinarian to determine the presence of fluid or arthritis in the joint, and also whether any small pieces of bone broke off with the ligament when it ruptured.

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