Friday, March 24, 2023

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What You Need to Know About Torn ACL in Dogs

According to the American Kennel Club, the most common symptom of a torn ACL is lameness or limping in one of the hind legs. Your dog may also seem to be in pain when they move around. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. 

The torn ACL in dogs is one of the most common orthopedic injuries. It occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament, which stabilizes the knee joint, is torn. Playing too hard or an accident is the most common cause of this injury. So if you’re concerned that your furry friend may have suffered a torn ACL, keep reading.

What Does a Torn ACL on a Dog Look Like?

You might notice a few things if your dog tears their ACL. They may have sudden lameness in one or both legs, holding their leg up or not bearing any weight on it, being reluctant to move or put any pressure on the affected legs, and yelp when you touch their legs.

Symptoms of Torn ACL in a Dog

The most common symptom of a torn ACL in dogs is lameness or an abnormal gait. This is usually first noticed after the dog has been exercised or played strenuously. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in the affected legs
  • Stiffness in the affected legs
  • Limping or favoring the affected legs
  • Reluctance to move or put any pressure on the affected leg/s
  • Yelping when the affected legs are touched

These symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the injury. For example, a partial tear may only result in mild lameness, while a complete tear can cause the leg to give out completely.

ACL Dog Injury Prevention Tips

You can help your dog avoid an ACL tear (anterior cruciate ligament tear) by taking simple precautions. The following tips will help you keep your dog safe and prevent ACL injuries:

  1. Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for ACL tears in dogs.
  2. Avoid high-impact activities. If your dog enjoys running and jumping, warm them up properly first and avoid doing too much too soon.
  3. Keep them lean. Muscles help support the joints and keeping your dog’s muscles toned can help protect their joints from injury.
  4. Use proper gear. If your dog is running or playing on hard surfaces, invest in quality paw pads to help protect its feet and legs.

How to Treat Torn ACL in Dog?

Fortunately, dog ACL injuries are treatable. While surgery is the main method for regaining the limb’s proper function in dogs with a minor or partial ACL tear, other treatments can support rehabilitation.


This is the most common treatment for a torn ACL in dogs. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the tear. For a partial tear, your vet may recommend arthroscopic surgery. This minimally invasive procedure can repair the ligament without having to make large incisions.

Joint Supplements

This can help to support your dog’s joints and ligaments. These supplements usually contain ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have all been shown to help treat joint pain.


Physical therapy is another element of non-surgical treatment for an ACL tear in a dog. A dog physical therapist can help your furry friend regain strength and mobility in the affected leg. This is especially important after surgery, as it can help to prevent further injury and speed up the healing process.

If your dog has a torn ACL, don’t panic. Several treatment options will help your dog regain strength and mobility in the affected leg. Surgery is the most common treatment option, but joint supplements, rehabilitation, and physical therapy can also be helpful.


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