The ACL Tear In Dogs? Is Surgery The Only Option? - Salt Lake Animal Physical Therapy
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The ACL Tear In Dogs? Is Surgery The Only Option?

We have all heard of a friend or family member who has torn an anterior cruciate ligament (acl). Or we have been watching a sporting event where a player goes down with an acl injury. The same can happen for our dogs, they can suffer an acl tear. But what is a dog acl tear? The dog or canine has what we refer to as a cranial cruciate ligament (ccl). Here we will use the two terms interchangeably. Acl tears in dogs are actually quite common. The cause of acl tears in dogs may be due to age, breed, activity, or even obesity. I have often seen torn acl’s in dogs caused by simple things, such as jumping off of a bed. However, it is often a degenerative process and not a traumatic injury.

Is surgery for a torn acl or ccl in dogs the only option?

Many may think that surgery for a torn acl in dogs is the only option. However, this is not always the case. Some dogs may not be surgical candidates, due to: age, poor health, their level of fitness, owner’s beliefs, or even financial constraints. This group of dogs also deserve a chance to be able to regain adequate function for daily living and often can live a good quality of life. Many dogs can do canine physical therapy and have much better function and normal quality of life. The effectiveness of canine physical therapy may depend on the grade of tear, meniscal involvement, and the owner’s adherence to home exercises.

Understanding the Cranial Cruciate Ligament

The cranial cruciate ligament (ccl) or acl in dogs works to prevent translation, internal rotation, and hyperextension. The dogs acl will vary in size and strength depending on the breed. It often degenerates and loses strength with aging. Dog acl tears are more common in certain breeds (Labrador Retriever, Rottweilers, Staffordshire Terrier, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Saint Bernard, & Mastiffs), in neutered dogs, and obese dogs.

Can I rehab my dog’s torn acl at home?

While it may be tempting to try to rehab your dog’s torn acl at home this is often not a viable option. ACL rehab for a dog requires a complex strategy with gradual progression and a properly trained professional is needed.

For more information check out our dog acl/ccl page here:

There you will find a couple of free downloads on surgical or conservate rehab management.

For questions call or text me directly at 801-903-7882 or email at