CCL Injuries

About the CCL

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) is, for dogs, the equivalent of the ACL in humans.  Where most humans incur ACL damage as a result of a specific athletic event, a dog’s CCL is likely to degenerate over time — even over months or years. This may be due to age, obesity, genetics, breed or other factors. As the ligament weakens, it is more susceptible to trauma and tearing.

Signs of CCL Injury

Dogs with Cranial Cruciate Ligament damage may exhibit any combination of the following signs in the hind leg(s):

  • Difficulty getting up
  • Trouble jumping into the car
  • Decreased activity level
  • Limping on the affected leg
  • Muscle atrophy (muscle loss)
  • Decreased range of motion of the knee
  • A popping noise
  • Swelling on the inside of the knee
  • Unwillingness to play
  • Stiffness


Your veterinarian can diagnose tears of the CCL based on physical examination.  Sedation may be required for complete examination. Radiographs are necessary for surgical planning.


Surgery is the treatment of choice to provide stability in the joint.  Studies have shown that surgical repair leads to full function in the leg faster than other conservative methods. The decision to pursue surgery is best decided by you and your veterinarian.

Learn More About Treatment Options >>>