Joints allow movement between bones. Movement is controlled by ligaments and tendons which are made of very tough tissue which attaches to the bones. The knee joint is particularly susceptible to damage from strained or torn ligament.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament attaches the femur to the tibia (shinbone) preventing excessive motion between these two bones, keeping the joint stable. Over-extension of the knee joint may tear this ligament, allowing the two bones to slide back and forth, causing pain, lameness, and instability.

Excessive movement over a period of time leads to arthritis and pain. Overweight dogs are most susceptible due to the excess pressure created on the joints. Conservative medical therapy, initially using anti-inflammatory drugs, may allow healing if the ligaments are merely stretched instead of being torn.

Without medical/surgical attention, this abnormal wear and tear will lead to arthritis and chronic discomfort.

Depending on the severity of the rupture, treatment may consist of rest and medication or surgical repair of the torn ligament. Your doctor will advise you concerning the treatment necessary for your pet.

If surgery is recommended, it may consist of the following:
Removal of the damaged cartilage.
Replacement of the torn ligament.
Tightening of the joint to help prevent abnormal movement.

Even after surgery, recovery may take days to weeks, depending upon the individual. Due to the injury, some arthritis is inevitable. Therefore, the joint will rarely be “good as new,” but should be noticeably better.

Remember, rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament most frequently occurs in overweight dogs. Because of this, the problem could occur in the other leg at a later time. Weight reduction is highly recommended.