It’s no secret that some dogs are predisposed to certain health issues. Sometimes, they’re genetic, just like some people are predisposed to being short or tall. Other health concerns are age and lifestyle-related.
Yet, the CCL injury can be all three. Veterinarians say the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) injury is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs. Also commonly called the ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament, this is a vital part of your dog’s hind legs and it serves the same function as the human ACL. It’s a supporting ligament for your knee. Without a well-functioning CCL, your dog can’t walk or run.
In fact, limping or “favoring” one leg over the other is a common symptom of a potential CCL problem.
So why is it so common?
Well, there’s no clear answer.
As you know, medicine is an evolving science. Yet, one possibility is the design of the dog’s leg in the first place already puts a strain on the ligament. Another possibility is it often occurs in popular breeds like Golden Retrievers and there are a lot of those in the world.
However, a CCL injury can happen to any breed.
In this post, you’ll discover common causes for CCL injuries, the other breeds most at risk of a CCL injury, and how you can protect this delicate ligament.
What Causes CCL Injuries?
Earlier, I mentioned lifestyle, age, and genetics all play a role in the health of the CCL. For example, overweight dogs put more weight on their joints and that’s a problem.
However, there are also a lot of CCL injuries caused by repetitive stress. For example, if your dog loves playing fetch, that’s great exercise. Yet, all that running, switching direction, and leaping in the air can take a toll on your pet’s CCL - especially, if you don’t do it every day but only occasionally.
In general, a ruptured CCL is a gradual event. It’s a series of micro-tears that damage the ligament over time rather than an acute rupture. That’s why your dog might have a little limping at times but one day collapses in pain after getting up from a nap. It’s not always so dramatic, but it can happen.
It comes down to the way the dog’s leg is designed. Essentially, there’s one bone on top of another bone with the CCL ligament supporting it all. Yet, since dog’s basically, always have their knees bent, their CCL can be stressed just by standing. When you already have a situation where it’s compromised, it doesn’t take much to damage it.
But back to the breeds. Which dog breeds are most susceptible to a CCL injury?
It turns out that some of the most popular breeds like Labradors and golden retrievers are a risk. So are Rottweilers and Newfoundlands. A lot of larger breeds are at risk, though it can definitely happen to any dog. And, once a dog has damaged one leg, it’s common that the other leg will also succumb to a CCL tear in the future.
As you may guess, once your dog does have a CCL injury, then you’ll want to devise a treatment plan with your veterinarian. That treatment plan may include surgery.
Hopefully, you can prevent a CCL injury altogether.
How Can You Prevent a CCL Injury in Your Dog?
When it comes to your dog’s health, you want the best for them of course. When it comes to CCL injuries, it’s not that different from what you’d do to prevent ACL injuries if you were an athlete, since it’s the same ligament.
These are good habits to make a part of your life.
- Exercise regularly and moderately. Highly strenuous exercise once a week is more likely to damage your dog’s CCL than a daily walk and play session.
- Warm-up prior to play sessions by taking it slow at first. Even if your dog naturally wants to run at full speed, you can encourage a slower pace by throwing the ball low.
- Don’t encourage your dog to jump high in the air to catch balls/frisbees. It’s fun, but those landings take a toll on your dog’s joints.
- Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Even a few extra pounds add extra weight to the joints which stresses them.
- Eat a healthy diet and feed your dog supplements if needed.
It’s also worth noting, that if you see your dog limp on a regular basis then it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian. You don’t want any surprises.
Do you have a dog breed susceptible to a CCL injury? What are you doing to protect your pup’s CCL?