In humans, the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, helps stabilize the knee and is commonly injured. In dogs, this ligament is technically known as the canine cruciate ligament, though is still commonly called an ACL. ACL tears requiring surgical repair are common in dogs, especially in large breeds such as mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers. Post-surgical considerations are necessary to avoid possible re-injury as well as possible tears in the other leg.
To avoid re-injury, it is essential to follow your veterinarian’s post-surgical instructions. Movement and activity will be greatly restricted for the first 10 days after surgery. Confinement to a kennel is often necessary for active dogs. A simple jump is enough to damage the surgical site and re-injure the area. Limited activity and rehabilitation continue for up to six months.
Sometimes lifestyle changes are necessary after ACL surgery. Regular exercise and conditioning help maintain a healthy body weight, reducing stress on the knee. Avoid activities such as Frisbee and ball-throwing. These activities cause frequent starts and stops, increasing knee stress. Half of all dogs who injure the ACL in one leg will injure the ACL in the other leg, according to Kirkwood Animal Hospital.
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