The knee joint is possibly the most used joint in you dogs body, it is always load-bearing, which can make the ligament susceptible to injury. ACL injuries (which in dogs are actually called CCL injuries) are one of the most common injuries a dog can have.
Signs of Injured ACL in Dogs
You might notice your dog starting to limp. Your dog may start to avoid strenuous activities, he/she may not want to go on long walks or be as ready to jump and play like normal. You might notice the limping occurs overnight or it can also come on gradually.
Before your dog starts limp or refuses to put weight on their leg, you may notice they are having joint stiffness. Your dog might take a bit longer to get up from a laying down position or they may try to avoid bending their knee.
Your dog may start sitting and laying down with their leg sticking out to the side rather than tucked in like normal. This position is more comfortable as the knee joint may be painful to bend as normal.
The injury will cause inflammation and swelling and your dog's knee joint will appear visibly larger.
Clicking Sounds When Walking
Because the knee is constantly under pressure the injury can cause the joint to be unstable. If the meniscus, a shock-absorbing pad of cartilage becomes torn or injured due to the knee injury it creates an audible “click” in the knee.
Dog ACL Injury Treatment
The severity of the injury and your dog's lifestyle will determine the best treatment for your dog's ACL injury. A fairly young and active dog would typically be recommended for surgical treatment. Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or TPLO surgery will involve cutting and flattening the top section of the shin bone, known as the tibial plateau and inserting a plate and screws to stabilize the knee joint in a new position so your dog can walk and run comfortably.
A wheelchair or a dog knee brace can be used for conservative management of an ACL injury. A rear wheelchair can support your dog and keep the weight off of the knee joint so your pup can exercise without pain. Either a custom knee brace or a soft support brace can also be used to stabilized the knee joint while the ACL injury heals.