Understanding Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tears in Pets

Seeing an athlete fall to the ground while clutching their knee while watching a sporting event probably makes you cringe. You are aware that one of the important ligaments in charge of stabilizing the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), was likely torn.

The same knee ligament can be torn in your pet, did you know that? The issue exists, even though it goes by the name of cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).

What does it mean for a pet’s cranial cruciate ligament to tear?

The cranial cruciate ligament, which joins the femur (the thigh bone) and the tibia (the shin bone), is crucial for maintaining the stability of the knee joint. Walking causes instability and discomfort for your pet when the CCL ruptures or tears because the shin moves away from the femur.

How can pets sustain damage to their cranial cruciate ligament?

In pets, a CCL rupture or tear is caused by a variety of factors, such as:

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

In general, CCL rupture occurs because the ligament slowly degenerates over months or years, rather than an acute injury to a healthy ligament.

What are signs of a cranial cruciate ligament tear in pets?

A CCL tear, particularly a partial tear, can cause signs that range in severity and can be challenging for pet owners to determine whether their pet needs veterinary care. However, a CCL rupture needs medical attention, and you must schedule an appointment with our team if your pet is displaying these signs:

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


How might a cranial cruciate ligament tear be fixed?

Your pet’s activity level, size, age, and degree of knee instability will all affect how they are treated for a torn CCL. Surgery is frequently the best option because there is no other way to permanently manage the instability than with an osteotomy- or suture-based technique. But another choice might be medical management.

A torn cranial cruciate ligament may be the cause of your pet’s hind leg limp. To arrange an orthopedic examination, give our staff a call.