ACL Knee Surgery

Knee Injuries in Dogs

A significant number dogs suffer injuries to their cruciate ligaments. There are two ligaments in the knee joint which are crossed ‘cruciate’ to prevent the chin bone (tibia) sliding forward or backwards. These ligaments are under constant strain in dogs and frequently accumulate wear and tear over time in pets. Traumatic events in young dogs can result in catastrophic cruciate ligament rupture that requires immediate attention to prevent additional meniscal damage.

Acute ACL injury in younger dogs can benefit from surgical stabilization of their knees. An eye-opening statistic that pet owners must bear in mind is that once a knee fails, there is greater than 50% chance that the other knee will fail within a year. It therefore makes good sense to try and fix the injured knee as soon as possible.

The most important presurgical diagnostic tool vets have available is x-ray under sedation to absolutely diagnose cruciate disease and to rule out other possible causes. Some dogs are so well muscled, active or painful that it is difficult to confirm a cruciate injury when awake. X-rays also allow us to determine which surgical options are the best fit.


There are multiple surgical techniques available to stabilize a dog’s knees – all methods ultimately rely on the dogs own healing system which is organized scar tissue. This process typically takes 3 months or so depending on the age, breed and general health of the dog.

There are two major categories of corrective knee surgeries. Synthetic ligament procedures have been around for a long time – commonly referred to as the Extracapsular or Lateral Suture technique. General results have been good, however there are limitation and risks depending on patient size and age and generally we see more arthritis. This is the type of surgery we offer.

The second category typically involves specialist training, expensive plates, and specialized equipment. Some of the common procedures include TPLOs and TTAs. These are the best surgeries for optimal outcome and must be performed at a specialty veterinary office. We do not offer these types of procedures.

If you are unable to afford a specialty surgery immediately, then we recommend selecting the less high-tech method. You can always have the other procedure done at a time when finances permit. Either way, your dog may benefit from immediate knee stabilization.

Please keep in mind that your pet will need strict exercise restriction for 3 months after surgery. Failure to restrict activity could result in tearing the new “false” ligament which would require another surgery.

For more information please call our office to set up a pre-surgical examination at 470-780-2121

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