Knee injuries are just as common in animals are they are in humans. The most common knee injury seen in dogs is a cruciate ligament tear. In humans, this injury is better known as an ACL or anterior cruciate ligament tear. However, in pets, you may hear it called the cranial cruciate ligament or CCL. The CCL is a small ligament that is located inside the knee joint and is responsible for helping to keep it stable, in position, and functioning as it should. Although CCL tears are most common in dogs, they can affect cats too.


A CCL tear is typically caused by your pet suddenly twisting or turning, such as when running. This places strain on the ligament that causes it to become torn or twisted. Cruciate ligament tears can also be caused by your pet being overweight, or simply as a result of the aging process and subsequent degeneration of the joint.


Signs of a CCL tear include limping, lameness, and refusing to put any weight on the affected joint. You may even hear your pet yelp or cry out when the injury occurs. However, most animals are very good at masking pain, so you are unlikely to notice any other signs of their discomfort.


Knee Surgery for Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears

If your vet decides that surgery is the best course of treatment for your pet’s CCL tear, you will be pleased to know that the procedure is fairly straightforward. It will be carried out using a general anesthetic, meaning your dog will be asleep during the procedure. The procedure involves stabilizing the knee joint by realigning the tip of the shin bone at an angle that prevents the bone from sliding forwards.


In some cases, it may be necessary for your pet to have a procedure called lateral suture, in which your vet will surgically place a sturdy suture on the side of the knee joint to act as an artificial ligament.


Not every animal is a good candidate for this surgery, and recovery will take time and patience, with physical therapy and exercise crucial.


Knee Replacement Surgery for Dogs and Cats

If your pet’s knee is completely degenerated, and your vet believes that the benefits of the procedure would outweigh the possible risks, they may be referred for total knee replacement surgery. Known as TKR, this is a major surgery and is not undertaken lightly. Total knee replacement surgery involves cutting out the entire diseased knee joint and replacing it with a prosthetic version. The most common reason for a pet to need a total knee replacement is severe osteoarthritis.


Like CCL surgery, total knee replacement surgery is performed under general anesthetic. As you might expect, the recovery period can be extensive, and animals will need physical therapy to help them build strength and function in their knee joint.



If you would like more information about knee surgery in dogs and cats, or to schedule an appointment, call Montana Veterinary Hospital & Boarding in Bozeman, Montana at (406) 586-2019 today.