A ruptured, or partially ruptured ACL in the knee (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is the leading cause of hind limb lameness affecting all dogs. Although this can happen in any breed, the larger breeds (such as Golden Retrievers and larger) seem to be predisposed.

It is very important to note that in dogs, a ruptured cruciate ligament in rarely due to a true traumatic event. Rather, it is a degenerative of the cruciate ligament.
The leading factors to this degeneration are:
(1) Aging
(2) Genetics
(3) Obesity


Because of the degenerative nature of cruciate disease, 30-40% of dogs will go on to rupture the cruciate ligament in the other knee.

Moving on to repair techniques:

Extracapsular Repair (Band technique)
A completely ruptured cruciate ligament in dogs weighing greater than 10 lbs ultimately requires surgery to regain proper function of their knee. The most common technique used is the extracapsular technique (band, tightrope procedures). This procedure involves the installation of 2 surgical grade nylon bands around the knee to mimic the functions of an intact ACL. This procedure is very successful with success rates of 90%.

Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (TPLO)
This procedure is very effective in repair torn ACLs in larger dogs (>80 lbs). The procedure is much more involved and does require a board certified veterinary surgeon to perform. Surgically, the knee's angle is aligned and sloped creating a dynamically stable knee. This procedure is also very successful with success rates of 90% as well.

If you're in the Kitchener - Waterloo area and would like to discuss these options in more detail, feel free to contact us by any means and we'll be glad to help.