Protecting Your Dog from an All-Too-Common Ligament Tear

Clues for what you can do to strengthen the ligament — and what weakens it.


In people it’s called an ACL tear — a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament that helps connect the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia) and leaves both competitive and amateur athletes crumpled in pain. In dogs, it’s called a CCL tear — same ligament, different name. It tends to hobble dogs more gradually than ACL tears. That’s because the tear usually occurs over time rather than in a split second, which is what brings skiers and football players right to the ground. But it hobbles dogs often.

Tears of the CCL — cranial cruciate ligament — are in fact among the most common orthopedic conditions to befall our canine pets, and surgeries to repair them often rank as the most common orthopedic surgery, costing at least a couple thousand dollars. In the U.S. alone, people with dogs spend more than $1 billion collectively on an annual basis for surgeries and medical management to help their pets with a torn CCL.

Now a new survey of more than 1,200 people with dogs training or competing in the sport of agility suggests that certain activities and lifestyle choices you make for your pet may decrease the risk of CCL rupture. The work was conducted by researchers at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and published in the journal BMC [BioMed Central] Veterinary Research.


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