Why Do So Many Dogs Tear Their ACLs?
If your vet explains that your dog has torn their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), your first question is likely – what’s that? In your own body, the ACL is the ligament that connects the end of the thigh bone to the top of the femur bone below the knee. The canine equivalent to ACL is called a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), and it’s one of the most common injuries in dogs.
Various factors can raise the risk factor for CCL, such as obesity, the particular breed, age, or varying activity levels. Here’s some additional information you might find useful:
Some Dog Breeds are More Likely to Develop CCL Problems
It may interest you to know that CCLs injuries typically develop over time. Your dog’s knee ligaments may progressively weaken until a misstep results in rupture. Some dog breeds have a higher propensity to the condition, such as Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, mastiffs, and Akitas. Improper care and poor nutrition as puppies can also result in weak knees.
Obesity Leads to More Pressure on the CCL
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reports that around 55.8% of dogs are overweight, with all those additional pounds applying excess pressure on their CCLs. The culprit is typically low levels of movement combined with commercial dog food that contains a high percentage of fat and sugars. Many of these brands have empty calories without any real nutrition.
Owners unwittingly overfeeding their pets and on-demand diet plans all contribute to obesity. Choosing a high protein dog food made with plant-based products will not only help maintain the optimum weight, but the healthy sources of amino acids help strengthen muscles and tissues. You must also ask the vet for advice on the appropriate portions sizes to feed your pet.
Irregular Activity Levels
Nature has designed the dog’s physical structure to have a highly active life with lots of running and hunting in packs. Domestic dogs are confined into restricted spaces and possibly even crated while their owners are away at work. Going on walks where they are leashed at all times or playing in the park on only rare occasions result in infrequent exercise sessions. Inadequate activity results in weaker muscles and ligaments that tend to tear or rupture with the slightest movement.
The right treatment can help your furry buddy recover from a torn CCL and have them up and on their paws in no time. But pet parents should take the time to identify the risk factors and do what they can to avoid them. Regular exercise and maintaining weight are simple solutions.