Everything You Need To Know About a Torn CCL in Dogs

by | Jan 31, 2023 | TPLO Surgery

Dogs have active lifestyles that make them prone to significant injuries. As pet owners, we must ensure that our dogs get the proper treatment so they can go back to running, jumping, playing, and the other activities they enjoy daily.

One of the most common severe injuries that owners worry about is a CCL tear in dogs. Unlike sprains and strains, a torn CCL often requires invasive procedures like TPLO surgery. If left untreated, it could drastically change your dog’s mobility and quality of life.

This article will explore what a CCL tear in a dog means, its symptoms and causes, and the possible treatments available. 

CCL in Dogs vs. ACL in Humans

While there are similarities between CCL tears in dogs and ACL tears in humans, the two injuries are vastly different. 

Human ACL tears happen due to traumatic events. 

Cranial crucial ligament (CCL) tears happen when the ligament in your pet’s knees rupture due to a traumatic event or significant regression in the ligament itself. 

As our pups grow older, their ligaments become weaker and more prone to tiny tears, eventually leading to CCL tears. With every tear in the ligament, the closer a dog becomes to developing osteoarthritis. 

A torn CCL in dogs often seems like it happens suddenly. However, typically your dog’s ligaments have been weak for quite some time now. The most common four signs to identify to know if your dog is suffering from a torn CCL are:

Severe lameness

Limping or lameness is the first observable sign that your dog has torn its CCL. Depending on how severe the injury is, the limping may be severe or mild. 


A few hours after the incident, you’ll observe that the affected knee starts to swell. In some cases, redness also occurs. 

Once you see this symptom, we recommend using ice packs to reduce the swelling and lessen the pain your dog is feeling. 

Reduced range of motion

Your dog will slowly become less active as time goes by. You may likely see your dog resting in a corner instead of running around your home. 

CCL tears can be painful, depending on the injury’s severity. Your dog will do its best to avoid moving around and causing more pain to the affected area. 

Change in gait

Until your dog’s injury heals, you’ll observe a change in their gait. Pets may constantly shift their weight between their hind limbs to avoid the pain caused from putting pressure on the injured area. 

If you notice something different in your pup’s posture, it might mean that something’s wrong with one of its legs. 

Causes of Torn CCL in Dogs

Aside from regression caused by old age, there are other reasons why some pets are more prone to CCL tears

Severe trauma

When a dog runs and changes direction suddenly, it could drastically twist its knee joints, leading to an acute cruciate rupture. 

Luxating patella

Luxating patella is a condition where a dog’s kneecap moves out of place. Depending on its severity, it may attribute to a torn CCL. 

Vets categorize patella luxation into four grades, with Grade IV being the most severe case. When a dog gets a Grade IV luxation, its kneecap becomes permanently repositioned.


Dogs that are overweight are more prone to CCL tears. According to veterinarians, correct weight management plays a significant role in reducing the risk of CCL injuries. 

Excess weight on dogs means more stress on their joints and ligaments, leaving them at a higher risk of sustaining CCL ruptures. 

Treating CCL tears in Dogs

Depending on the leading cause of your dog’s injury, there are four ways to treat CCL tears.

TPLO surgery

The tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery is the leading treatment for CCL injuries. The procedure aims to change the anatomy of the tibia (shin bone) and stabilize it  with the help of a plate and screws. 

TPLO surgery is one of the most common significant procedures for dogs, and typically has the longest lasting results. 

Physical therapy

After a procedure like a TPLO surgery, physical therapy can be recommended to guarantee full rehabilitation. 

Some vets still recommend physical therapy to treat CCL injuries in dogs. Rehab will help pets hasten their recovery from surgery and improve their overall body condition, allowing your dog to prevent further injuries. 

Weight management

Changing and maintaining an appropriate diet for your dog are crucial to avoid further injuries in the future. 

Remember, being overweight is one of the most common causes of CCL injuries among dogs. Aside from changing their diet, you can also take your pups for more exercise to help manage their weight. 

Anti-inflammatory medication

Depending on whether your dog is suffering from a lot of swelling and redness, your vet will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. Mild cases of CCL injuries often require crate rest and medication for pain management and swelling. 

It’s vital that your canine takes their medication on time and avoids extensive activities until their injuries fully heal. 

Keep your dogs happy and safe

While it’s true that there’s no way for us to keep our dogs injury-free forever, there are a handful of things that you can do to keep them happy and safe.

By ensuring that your canine stays healthy and gets the proper treatment, you can help your dog avoid CCL injuries. If you want more information on how to keep your pup happy and healthy, check out our blog here

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This