Healing Tails strongly believes in developing a partnership with proactive pet parents committed to naturally supporting their pet's health conditions and injuries without the use of continuous medications or surgery.
Canine Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Disease
“Healing Tails strongly believes in developing a partnership with proactive pet parents who are committed to naturally supporting their pet’s health conditions or injuries without the use of continuous medications or surgery.”
Having a pet with a cranial cruciate ligament tear (also known as CCL or ACL) can be a scary thing! When my own dog tore his CCL, I found it to be a stressful situation, even with my knowledge as a veterinarian. Having helped my own dog recover from 2 CCL surgeries, as well as having helped countless pets and pet parents with their recovery, I know first hand of the concerns that are likely running through your head if you’re a worried pet parent like I was:
Will my dog be in pain after the surgery?
How will I keep them still?
Will my dog be able to return to their normal activities?
How can I find a surgeon I will trust?
Can I just do physical rehabilitation and avoid surgery?
At Healing Tails we believe that a toolbox of good information will empower you as a pet parent to make the best decisions for your pet. So let’s review a few things about this injury.
ACL aka CCL Basics
If you’re a sports fan you have probably heard of ACL injuries, as they are fairly common in basketball, soccer and football players. As it turns out, this is a fairly common injury in dogs as well. In dogs, the proper term for the ACL is cranial cruciate ligament or CCL. This ligament helps to connect the thigh bone (femur) to the leg bone (tibia) and helps to stabilize the knee and prevent it from buckling. This means that when a dog tears their CCL ligament, they are no longer able to bear complete weight on the affected leg due to the instability.
Symptoms of CCL Injury
Human athletes typically tear their ACL from quick movements or rapid changes in direction. CCL injuries in dogs are typically due to a gradual breakdown of the ligament over time. As the ligament gradually frays you may notice that your dog limps sometimes after exercise or is slow to get up after they’ve been resting in their bed. You may also notice that your dog changes the way that they sit. Dogs with CCL injuries will commonly “puppy sit” leaning on one hip with the injured leg straightened to the side. That weakened ligament, then can become a complete tear with running, jumping or playing. It’s always important to have a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian and x-rays to rule out any other injuries that can cause limping and pain.
Surgery and Physical Rehabilitation
Once a pet has been diagnosed with a CCL tear, surgery is usually recommended to help stabilize the knee. Surgery helps to quickly stabilize the knee and helps to slow the development of arthritis in the affected knee. However, there are some cases - either due to age or other health conditions- where a pet cannot undergo the surgical procedure. In these cases, physical rehabilitation can be an extremely important part of non surgical recovery - in fact, along with rehabilitation, a custom knee brace might even be recommended to help support and stabilize the knee.
The most important takeaway
Physical rehabilitation should be incorporated into your pets care plan after a CCL injury! Even with surgery your pet will lose some strength and mobility, physical rehabilitation is a crucial component to help get your pet back to living the life they love.
The Healing Tails Difference
We have helped many pets recover from CCL injuries! We treat each pet individually and create a customized treatment plan based on their current level strength and ability. We are also well versed in supplements and diet and can provide specific recommendations which can help enhance your pet’s recovery. And if your pet can benefit from a custom brace, we’ve got that covered as well.
Making some small changes around your home can go a long way to ensure that your pet recovers well from CCL injury without any additional injuries from slips and falls. If your pet is going to have surgery, make sure that these modifications are in place prior to them returning home from the hospital.
Tile or hardwood floors can be slippery, especially for a dog who only has 3 good legs to get around on! It’s important to make sure that these slick surfaces are covered with something to provide good traction! Area rugs and runners are stylish options, while yoga mats can be a great temporary solution. Create a path throughout the house, so that your dog is able to safely navigate to the back door, the food dish and their comfy bed.
Stairs can be another hazard for dogs that are recovering from surgery. Baby gates are a great solution to block access to any stairs that might pose a problem for your pet.