Cruciate Ligaments in Dogs

Today’s post takes a personal note. Cruciate Ligaments injuries in dogs is quite common. And one of the Big Paw Designs dogs has now experienced it. Big George, our Great Pyrenees mix goes into surgery tomorrow to repair his knee. This injury is the equivalent to ACL in humans. It often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as a hip issue – so be vigilant in documenting your pet’s behavior to give tips to your vet for diagnosis.

After doing some research, this is a very common issue with dogs. Especially hunting dogs and larger dogs. In addition, dogs who are middle aged (5-7) seem to be impacted.

It is important, especially in larger breed dogs, that they not be overweight. However, some of the cause may be genetic – just based on their body structure. Mr. George is not overweight – and perhaps a bit underweight – we wanted to avoid any unnecessary hip issues in large breed dogs with him. So part of it in his case is probably a combination of age, the angle of his legs, and dumb luck. And I would not put it past a taunting squirrel who led him to leap courageously to his injury!

Luckily, the surgery will produce good results. If left untreated, a dog with this injury may be on the path to not being able to use the affected leg, or may have issues with the other leg as he relies on it more to move.

However, as I am about to experience, recovery is long. 2-4 months for full recovery. And with a large breed dog who cannot be scooped up in your arms to take to the backyard for a break – this can be quite a quandry. There are, however, some helpful hints in dealing with this….so I am told. One is to support your pet with a towel, or buy a support for his back legs to help him about. It is also important to keep optimal stability during recovery and not let him run or twist about.
It is also important to ensure a stable area in and around his crate so that there is not a struggle or opportunity to slip about when standing. And it is extremely important to keep exercise restricted per your veterinarian’s instructions..

The good news is, most dogs with the surgery heal and are up to their old antics. However, patience is necessary as the recovery is not short and requires diligence to ensure a slow and safe recovery.

Here are some links with more info:



  1. Good luck. 😦My Siberian Kodiak has had three surgeries, one for a torn ligament at 9 months and the last two for torn ACLs (cruciate). Both legs. Our surgeon said that can often happen. He never has fully recovered from either surgery. =( He limps a LOT and too much activity makes it painful for him to even stand.It is HARD to keep him resting when he’s not supposed to put any weight on his leg. We were adamant about a full 8 weeks ‘rest’ for him on his 3rd surgery. And even that didn’t fully fix his limping.It was an extremely painful and difficult process for us to go through – for some reason the third one was the worst. You can see his photos and story at my other blog Home Zookeeper – luck. Use the pain pills they give you. Keep the other dogs off him. 🙂 We had that problem the 3rd time around. *sigh*

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