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Monday 24th January, 2022

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture – recognising the signs and the best course of action

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is the most common cause of hindlimb lameness in dogs, affecting upwards of 1.2%a figure which virtually trebles to 3.5% in dogs which are overweight.

Every case is different, recovery times vary significantly from dog to dog and the ability of an owner to identify the problem depends largely on the extent of the damage and how that is affecting their pet. It is also very often not straightforward for a vet to diagnose the condition.

The problem

The stifle contains two outside collateral ligaments and two inside cruciate ligaments with one of these, the cranial cruciate ligament situated nearest the front of the joint.

This ligament can tear or rupture as a result of inappropriate movements or exercise but the most common cause is a degenerative condition known as Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease.

The disease shows a prediliction for certain breeds but being female and also obese considerably increase the risk factors. Some estimates place our ability to diagnose cases at close to just 0.6%, leaving a lot of dogs walking around in pain – a figure which could equate to as many as six dogs per vet in a practice!

Spotting the signs

Signs of lameness and limping in the back leg or legs could signify a problem with the cranial cruciate ligament, but it may also be something else. The condition can come on quickly or become noticeable over a period of time.

The dog may show signs of favouring the leg and even be unable to put any weight on it, there may be signs of stiffness after resting or periods of exercise and the dog may have trouble getting up after lying down. But it’s also worth remembering that in other cases the problem may not be so noticeable.

The solution

Having discovered the cranial cruciate ligament rupture, surgery is generally the best option and provides the best outcome, but many vets are keen to avoid carrying out the surgery – something we are keen to change at MSM Vets.

Improving diagnosis and finding surgical solutions is a big deal for us. It creates confidence and reassurance for the owners who entrust their pets to our care and provides the help and expertise to the animals who depend on the professionalism and dedication that comes with the best service we can provide.

No one is born knowing how to fix these particular cases and it’s fair to say that the only thing agreed by the experts is that there is no perfect solution, but MSM Vets is here to do all we can to help by offering on-site mentoring for vets or surgical repair.

Posted by MSM Vets