Education is the key to injury prevention. How can we prevent our dogs from experiencing a painful and costly CCL Rupture?
Weight management. Carrying extra weight adds undue strain to the knee joint and increases risk of injury. Does your dog have a waist? Not only does extra weight put stress on your dogs joints, it can also cut their lifespan.
Warm up and cool down your dog before and after activities. Just like humans, dogs benefit from warming up before and cooling down after a workout.
Choosing smart and safe activities. Some activities have a higher level of risk for an injury than others and you may be surprised to learn that playing fetch/throwing and retrieving a ball is the #1 cause for CCL injury in dogs. Often times owners are throwing a ball with little regard to the amount of work and effort their dog is putting into retrieving the toy. The dog is engaging in an activity with speed and could be making quick and sudden turns to retrieve the ball. Fetching is also an activity that owners tend to do often and to fatigue which results in further stress on the ligaments.
Regular Exercise. Unused or unchallenged muscles become short and inflexible generating less power and can lead to extra pressure and forces on neighboring tissues. If your dog isn’t ready to manage the physical challenges of a activity, you’re risking an injury. Exercise your dog regularly rather than turning your dog into a weekend warrior. Weekend warriors can be defined as a dog that spends the majority of their time lazing about the home who on the weekend hits the hiking trails for a strenuous 6-hour hike. Placing too much strain on a limb and ligaments that are inadequately prepared for the activity can result in an CCL injury. When our dogs make a turn the majority of their body weight is placed onto the knee and excessive rotational and shearing forces are placed on the cruciate ligaments. Something as simple as a misstep can put a little extra force onto the joint and ligament and cause a rupture.
Routine health checks. Visiting your Vet regularly can help your Vet to identify early issues, track their weight gain, and notice any uneven weight distribution that your dog may be exhibiting. Uneven weight distribution or compensation from lameness of a different leg can put more strain on the other health limbs. Research has shown that there is a 50-60% chance that in the first year your dog will injure the CCL on the other leg.
Unfortunately some breeds are more prone to CCL injuries such as Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundland, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers.