How to spot if your pet has a cruciate ligament injury

If your pet has twisted or strained their knee when jumping or landing awkwardly, their cruciate ligament can rupture or tear. It can also occur in overweight animals and some breeds are predisposed to the condition.

What are the signs of cruciate ligament damage in pets?

The most obvious sign is your pet limping on a hind limb accompanied by pain in that area. Your vet can diagnose the condition by manipulating your pet’s femur and tibia – if the tibia moves forward independent of the femur then the cruciate ligament is damaged.

How are cruciate ligament injuries in pets treated?

Your vet may suggest restricted cage rest and anti-inflammatories. However, most cases require surgery.

There are various surgical options such as a strong suture that replaces the ligament to hold the knee in place, a TPLO (tibial plateau levelling osteotomy) or TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement), both of which allow the knee to function without a ligament in place.

Your vet will discuss which option is most suitable for your pet depending on the severity of the ligament tear. It’s a good idea to discuss costs before you start treatment.

How do I avoid the cruciate injury reoccurring in my pet?

A long period of cage rest and restricted exercise is the best way to care for your pet after surgery – this is crucial to the success of the operation. The success rate of a cruciate repair is good but some pets do go on to develop arthritis later in life. Make sure your pet stays at a healthy weight after the operation to minimise their chances.

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet with a cruciate injury

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new pet and ask for more details on how the injury has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any pet who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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