If you’ve ever witnessed a dog walking or hopping around, favoring the stronger hind leg and not placing weight on the weaker or lame hind limb, then you’ve likely witnessed a dog with a torn or rupture cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), also known as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The CCL is a critical part of the dog’s body to stabilize the knee joint in supporting the dogs weight. Much like a human ACL, the CCL of a dog consists of a thick group of connective tissues preventing the rotation of the tibia while aiding it to slide dow the femur and patella bone.
CCL ruptures can occur in all sizes, breeds, and ages of dogs. Stout breed dogs are more likely to develop CCL ruptures and breakdown of ligament in comparison to smaller breeds.
Several factors can lead to higher risk of a dog rupturing cranial cruciate ligaments, including aging of CCL, obesity, deprived body conditions, and inheritance to name a few.
However the following 8 risk factors play an essential role in the development and exposure of CCL ruptures in dogs.
I’ll discuss of each of the seven, and how you can reduce, if not eliminate chance, or guard against the probability of your dog realizing a CCL rupture due to aforementioned factors.
- Excessive angle of tibial plateau bone
- Gender of dog
- Spayed and neutered dogs
- Aged of dog
- Bone related diseases
- Overly active dogs
- Large breed dogs
- Excessive body mass
Excessive angle of tibial plateau bone
The normal angle of degree for a dog’s tibial plateau bone ranges between 20-30 degrees.
Certain dogs can experience what is classified as excessive tibial plateau angle, whereby the angle of the tibia is greater than 32 or more degrees. This could likely be due to degenerative genetics.
Gender of dog
Female dogs, especially those spayed and neutered, or simply overweight, are at greater risk of CCL rupture and joint abnormality than their male counterparts and same-gender dogs of standard weight.
Spayed and neutered dogs
Spaying and neutering dogs is believed to create an imbalance of hormones that greatly and negatively impacts the property and size of a dog’s limbs, joints, and muscles, significantly increasing the prevalence of CCL tears and ruptures.
In addition, it’s been clinically proven that large-breed dogs with cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCLD) are at significant risk of developing excessive angle of tibial plateau bone due to early spaying and neutering.
Age of dog
Aging is a natural process, especially for dogs. It’s quite normal for high-mileage living to introduce an assortment of ailments and diseases — arthritis, stiff joints, lameness, etc.
As dogs approach 5 years of age, sustaining a CCL tear or rupture is 80% more likely to occur, greatly peaking in incidence between 7 to 10 years of age.
The most common bone-related diseases in correlation to CCL ruptures is degenerative joint disease, also known as arthritis or osteoarthritis, in a dog’s stifle joint. Cancer is also another debilitating disease that can lead to a dog knee injury and surgery.
Overly active dogs
It’s been years since your hey day of taking to the court or field to put on a clinic. And much like the aches, pains, strains, pulls, tears and other injuries one could sustain by being inactive and then overdoing it, your dog is highly susceptible or prone to weekend warrior syndrome.
To decrease the probability of sustaining a CCL tear or rupture, and having to undergo costly dog knee surgery, gradually increase distance, speed, and agility over time, and not all at once. Your dog and bank account will both thank you for it. 🙂
Out of approximately 200 large-breed dogs review for CCL rupture and abnormalities of joints, the following breeds were at the greatest risk of sustaining CCL ruptures:
- American Cocker Spaniel
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Brazilian Fila
- Chow Chow
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Labrador Retriever
- Saint Bernard
Apart from breed size, poor body conditioning enhances the risk element of the occurrence of CCL rupture.
Excessive body mass
As with obese people at risk of developing potentially serious health problems — heart disease, strokes, diabetes, etc., the same can be said for dogs, regardless of breed.
Dogs that are 30 or more pounds over the ideal weight for their breed are at bigger risk of CCL tears and ruptures. More interesting, dogs that are within 5% of the ideal weight in either direction, yet are more active are said to have less CCL rupture risk.