Symptoms of an ACL Tear in Dogs

Share This Post

When our beloved dogs are in pain or discomfort, it can be a stressful time for any pet owner. One common injury that affects many dogs, particularly active and larger breeds, is an ACL tear. Recognizing the symptoms early can lead to quicker intervention and a smoother recovery process. At McGehee Clinic for Animals in Memphis, TN, we’re committed to providing your pets with the care they need. If you suspect your dog might be suffering from an ACL tear, please call us at (901) 682-5684 or request an appointment online.

ACL Tears in Dogs

ACL tears in dogs are a common condition that can affect their quality of life and mobility. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), known in dogs as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee joint. When this ligament is damaged or torn, it can lead to pain, lameness, and long-term health issues if not addressed. 

What Causes an ACL Tear?

An ACL tear can occur from sudden, sharp movements such as jumping or turning quickly, but it can also develop over time due to wear and tear. Overweight dogs and certain breeds are more susceptible to this injury.

At-Risk Breeds and Preventative Measures

Certain breeds, including Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, are more prone to ACL injuries. Weight management and regular, gentle exercise can help reduce the risk.

Signs Your Dog May Have an ACL Tear

Limping or Lameness

One of the first signs you might notice is your dog limping or favoring one leg over the other, especially after exercise. This can indicate that the ACL is damaged and is not supporting the knee joint as it should.

Swelling Around the Knee

Swelling is a clear indicator of joint issues. In the case of an ACL tear, the knee may appear larger than normal or swollen. This swelling is due to inflammation inside the joint caused by the tear.

Reduced Activity Level

Dogs with an ACL tear often show less interest in activities they previously enjoyed. If your dog is suddenly hesitant to jump, run, or play, it might be because moving causes them pain.

Audible Clicking Sound

Sometimes, you might hear a clicking sound when your dog moves. This is caused by the abnormal motion of the knee joint due to the torn ACL.

Difficulty Standing Up

Dogs with an ACL tear might find it hard to stand up after lying down. This struggle is because the act of standing puts pressure on the injured knee, causing discomfort or pain.

Sitting Abnormally

A dog with an ACL injury may sit with the affected leg stretched out to the side instead of tucked under the body. This “sloppy sit” is a way for them to minimize discomfort.

Diagnosing an ACL Tear

A thorough examination by a vet is essential for diagnosing an ACL tear. The vet will assess your dog’s gait, examine the knee for swelling or abnormal movement, and may perform specific tests to check the stability of the ACL. In some cases, X-rays or other imaging tests like MRIs may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. These tests help visualize the extent of the damage and guide the treatment plan.

Treatment Options for ACL Tears

Treating an ACL tear in dogs usually involves surgery to stabilize the knee joint. However, the specific type of surgery depends on various factors, including your dog’s size, age, and overall health. Post-surgery, physical therapy and careful management at home are critical for recovery.

Preventing ACL Tears

While not all ACL tears can be prevented, maintaining a healthy weight and regular, moderate exercise can help reduce the risk. It’s also important to avoid sudden increases in activity that could put undue stress on your dog’s knees.

Contact McGehee Clinic for Animals Today

Noticing early signs of an ACL tear in your dog and seeking prompt veterinary care is key to managing this condition effectively. At McGehee Clinic for Animals, located in Memphis, TN, we’re here to support your pet through their recovery journey. If you suspect your dog might have an ACL tear, don’t wait. Call us at (901) 682-5684 or request an appointment online. Together, we can work towards restoring your dog’s health and mobility.

More To Explore

How to Treat Cat Watery Eyes

When your cat’s eyes start to look more like tiny waterfalls than the sharp, curious eyes you know and love, it’s understandable to feel concerned.


Why is Your Dog’s Ear Swollen

Discovering your dog’s ear is swollen can be alarming. It’s not just discomforting for your furry companion but can also signal underlying health issues needing

Get the best care for your best friend.

Walk-in or request an appointment online