The CCL is a ligament that runs along the front of your dog's knee, connecting the femur bone above the knee to the tibia bone below the knee. This ligament is similar to the ACL in humans, and dogs can injure the CCL, leading to discomfort and a lame gait. 

If your dog is experiencing the following symptoms, he may have torn his CCL:

  • Swelling on the front and inside of the knee joint
  • Limping, especially when running (not as severe when walking)
  • Unwillingness to bear weight on the injured leg (in severe cases)

Here's what you need to know about CCL injuries in dogs.

What causes this type of injury?

A CCL injury can affect any dog of any age. However, it is more common in younger dogs who have grown rapidly and are very active. When dogs grow so quickly, sometimes the ligaments do not keep up with the growth rate of the muscles and are therefore under excessive strain. All it takes is one wrong move, and the over-strained ligament tears. Your dog may tear a ligament while running or jumping, or when he trips in a hole.

How are CCL injuries diagnosed?

Your vet should be able to diagnose the injury quite easily. X-rays will be taken to rule out broken bones and to visualize the ligament damage.

How are CCL tears treated?

Very minor tears will sometimes heal on their own, especially if the dog is young and still growing. You can ice the injury several times per day, give your dog anti-inflammatory medications, and do your best to keep them inactive. Your vet may also prescribe a special brace for your dog to wear on his knee that keeps the ligament from being put under too much additional strain.

If the tear is more serious, or if it does not heal on its own within a few weeks, pet surgery will be required. Your vet will open up the knee, repair the ligament, and then suture up the incision. Your dog's activity level will need to be kept minimal over the coming weeks, but most dogs recover fully within two or three months.

It's important to treat a CCL injury properly, since left untreated, it can lead to further issues in the knee like bone spurs and arthritis. If you think your dog has injured his CCL, make an appointment with your local vet ASAP.