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Dog knee injuries

Thanks to Jana over at Dawg Business for sharing her experience with dog knee injuries. Check out her blog for more on dog ACL injuries and dog health information.

Many people have been asking about MuttKnee Brace reviews. Please see the comments for info on the MuttKnee Brace.

If you have a large breed dog, you will hear about hip dysplasia, but the odds that someone will talk to you about ACL injuries are quite low. The first time we heard the words was after our dog blew her knee.

There are at least three reasons why you should learn about ACL injuries in dogs.

1. There are things you can do to minimize the risk.

2. Knowing the signs of an ACL injury will prevent delays in diagnosis and treatment. That is important because a knee with a torn ACL becomes unstable and serious arthritis sets in very quickly.

3. You might be presented with a single treatment option. While it might be the best one, it is important to be aware of all options before making any decisions regarding your dog’s health.

A torn ACL is the most common knee injury in dogs

So what is an ACL injury?

ACL is short for anterior cruciate ligament. It is also referred to as CCL (cranial cruciate ligament).

If you take a look at the anatomy of the stifle (dog’s knee), you will see that there is no ball and socket like in a hip joint. One bone is virtually sitting on top of the other, held in place by connective tissue.

The two crossing cruciate ligaments are holding the bones in place and play a vital role in providing stability of the joint. Because of the anatomy of the knee, the ligaments have to withstand a lot of stress and that’s what makes them most vulnerable to injury.

Once the ligament gets torn or stretched, the stability of the knee is lost. This results in lameness, pain and onset of arthritis.

When your dog presents with a sudden onset of hind leg lameness that is not improving, you should suspect an ACL injury and have your dog checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The degree of lameness will depend on the degree of ligament damage. Your dog might start favoring the leg, putting weight only partially (tip-toeing) or not putting weight on the affected leg at all.

Treatment for ACL injuries in dogs

A knee with a damaged crucial ligament will not get better on its own. Your options will depend on the degree of the injury (partial tear, stretched ligament or fully torn ligament), age of your dog and anatomic aspects of your dog’s knee.

There are nonsurgical treatments, such as braces (more on the MuttKnee Brace below), regenerative stem cell therapy or prolotherapy. If you have an older dog that wouldn’t do well with surgery, braces or prolotherapy might be your best option.

However, if you have a young, healthy dog, a surgical solution gives your dog the best chance of returning to his active life. The most popular knee surgeries today are TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) and TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement). Both these surgeries stabilize the knee by altering the bone anatomy.

An older and less invasive type of ACL surgery is extracapsular repair. There are a number of factors that will determine whether an extracapsular repair is an option for your dog.

While most experts deem this surgery unsuitable for large breed dogs, there is evidence to the contrary. However, following strict post-op regime is crucial for the success of this type of repair.

How do I prevent my dog from having an ACL injury?

The most important preventative measure to prevent ligament injuries in dogs is weight control.

People still don’t seem to realize this, but obesity in dogs is a serious health risk. Not only does obesity increases risk of injuries and degenerative joint disease, it is a contributing factor to a number of other conditions, including heart problems, diabetes and even cancer.

Exercise will not only help keep the weight down, but it will also build strong muscles. Strong muscles help stabilize the joint and prevent injuries.

Leash walks on even, flat surfaces are a good way to help the dog build muscle. Swimming is another great exercise. Be careful when your dog is taking part in activities that involve quick starts, stops, jumps and turns such as agility or Frisbee. With any sport, there is a risk of injury and dogs should slowly work into activities and receive proper training and conditioning.

Underlying conditions such as hypothyroidism and structural abnormalities affecting the knee such as a luxating patella also increase the risk of ACL injuries.

Has your dog ever injured his or her knee or other joint?

See the comments section for more info on brace options such as the MuttKnee Brace.


Tuesday 6th of December 2022

I used Posh Dog Knee Brace to help my dog with his torn ACL/CCL anyone looking for a dog knee brace or elbow brace should check them out.


Monday 25th of April 2016

We're a perfect example of how opting out of surgery for a torn ACL can be successful. Our tear happened last year to my dog who was 10 at the time.. we didn't want to put her through the stressful experience of undergoing surgery. Our vet told us about the conservative treatment option and so we decided to put our dog on complete bedrest for 8 weeks and see if there was improvement.

We also got her the Ortocanis dog knee brace ( which was supposed to help stabilize and support the knee while it healed itself. While the support it provides is moderate.. it was just what she needed. A year later after more or less continuous use.. the brace is as good condition as day 1 and our dog is doing great! All for less than $50!!

Obviously this treatment option isn't going to work for everyone, and depending on the severity of the tear it's possible that surgery is the only option for a full recovery. But look into the different options before making a decision!!

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 25th of April 2016

Oh I'm so glad your dog is doing better!


Tuesday 12th of January 2016

In reading the blog above concerning CCL knee injury in dogs, I must disagree concerning the cause of CCL injuries. Yes, weight definitely has a great deal to do with the problem but so does conformation. Rottweilers are prone since they have such a slant to their knee attached to the upper leg. My young Rott female had her first episode at barely a year old and was no where close to over weight and heavily supplemented for such things, in addition. She has had a total of three different events and is presently wearing the Posh Knee Brace, We are 10 weeks out from the initial injury and doing well. She wears her brace anytime she goes out and is up to 45 min walks three times a day. She does feel better than her leg is able to handle and the brace keeps her leg stabilized for any fast starts or stops. She never wears her brace indoors. The secret to the successful use of a brace of any brand is to learn to put it on properly and keeping it in place where it was designed to ride. This can be quite a learning curve and not for the weekend warrior type who occasionally decides today my dog and I are going hiking. The dog has to become use to the brace, he should not even remember its on and should not wear it over 2 hrs. This particular brace uses a neoprene sleeve under it to keep the brace from slipping with activity. This must be applied rather snugly and I do not recommend leaving that on your dog for an extended period of time. My Rott does not mind her brace and it is a much better option than surgery for us.


Thursday 22nd of January 2015

My dog, Ralphie, tore his acl about a week ago. I didn't want to put him through surgery so I ended up getting him an a-trac brace from woundware. It seems to be working fine for now although Ralphie seems to be a little uncomfortable. I hope in time he gets better so I don't have to move to plan B for surgery. Thanks for sharing your info on dog injuries. It helps a lot for those who know nothing!


Tuesday 9th of September 2014

This is a hot topic! I'm going to just say a few things about my experience with my dog's torn ACL. I purchased a brace from WoundWear for my senior dog and I followed the protocol schedule religiously. Be advised, you are going to need a whole heck of a lot of patience if your dog has this injury, whether you do surgery, CM or anything in between. I kept a close eye on my dog at first because I had no idea how he'd react when I first fitted the brace on him. He tolerated wearing the brace much better than I anticipated. Over the course of his rehabilitation, we had a few minor setbacks along the way, but let's be real here--he is an animal with animal instincts, so I couldn't blame him when these things happened. But in the end, he made a full recovery and I'd choose the A-Trac brace all over again if I'm ever in this situation again. (However, I REALLY hope my dog never re-injures his ACL!). Good luck to everyone researching and looking for answers!


Saturday 22nd of November 2014

Hi, Nina,

How long did it take for your pup to be able to not wear the brace? Do you still have the brace? My dog was doing great wearing the A-trac for 5 weeks when he got out of the house and ran off after a bunny. When he returned, the brace was gone and he was limping as badly as the first day he tore his ACL. I'm wondering if I should buy another brace or try CM without it.