Can a dog re-tear its ACL after surgery? The short answer to this would be, NO. Your dog cannot re-tear the same ACL after surgery. However, she/he can tear the ACL on the other leg and the odds of that are sadly, very high. But to understand why that is, we need to understand what an ACL is.
The ACL or the anterior cruciate ligament is the ligament that connects the femur to the tibia. This includes the two major bones of your leg that are responsible for both stability and movement. In humans, the ACL attaches the femur to the tibia in a straight and linear manner whereas in dogs they are connected at an angle. This is the reason that dogs have their legs bent when they’re standing on all fours.
How do dogs tear their ACL?
Unlike humans, who and more or less, sedentary creatures, dogs on the other hand are among the most active and vivacious critters on the planet, and we treasure them for it. But sadly, high physical activity increases their chances for trauma or injury. So a bad fall or getting caught in an unfortunate accident can lead to an ACL or a meniscal rupture, which is why all dog owners must keep a keen, watchful eye over their beautiful dogs to ensure that they don’t end up hurting themselves.
Besides surgery, is there any other way to treat an ACL tear?
The answer to that is again a NO. Currently, there isn’t any other treatment option available besides surgery.
Some people often like to bring up the argument that since human ACL tears can often heal without surgical intervention; shouldn’t the same apply to dogs? Well, humans and dogs are different in this aspect. The reason for that lies in how the femur and tibia are situated in humans as compared to dogs. Since the ACL is attached linearly in humans, the scar tissue formed is sufficient enough to provide support. Whereas in dogs, the bones are attached at an angle; which is why scar tissue will not be able to provide the support needed to carry out normal functions. Hence the surgery becomes necessary.
What will happen if my dog does not get a surgery?
For starters, the poor thing will be in constant pain and the inflammatory response which will force the dog into compensation by shifting its weight on the other side. This, in turn, will put the other leg at risk for an ACL tear or any other form of knee joint injury. The dog will then, begin to avoid physical activities and instead, will opt to lie, sit and lounge about. This will contribute to obesity which will put the animal at risk for pulmonary and cardiovascular disorders, thereby decreasing both, its life expectancy and its overall quality of living.
Well then, how do I treat my dog’s ACL?
ACL can cause your little companion a lot of pain. Before proceeding towards the treatment you must have a little knowledge about it. There are three ways to treat ACL.
Lateral Extra-capsular Suture
As the name suggests this type of repair procedure works outside of the joint capsule. LES has two subtypes. The first one is Tight Rope Procedure and the second is, Lateral Fibular Suture. Both of the aforementioned procedures have the same underlying principle. This is the removal of a damaged portion of the ligament and using suture of a line. The suture helps to stabilize the knee joint and prevent bone shearing.
This procedure ensures that the ACL is no longer needed and that the suture or the braided line can handle its workload without any issues.
This method is the least expensive surgical option and works best for cats and smaller dogs. However, it isn’t recommended for larger animals as the force they can generate, is strong enough to rupture the suture. If the suture/braided line is damaged before it can heal, another surgery is required immediately.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy
TPLO’s core principle is to use the knee joint’s biomechanics to negate the need for an ACL. We achieve this by cutting a portion of the weight-bearing region of the tibia. We then rotate it and then ensure its stabilization.
This procedure yields amazing results in larger dogs. However, since the weight-bearing part is the target region, the rehabilitation is slow and time-consuming. It can take months for limb function to return to normal. It is also the most expensive surgery, which is why owners tend to shy away from it.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement
The TTA’s working principle is also another take on manipulating the biomechanics of the knee. The tibial plateau and patellar ligament are rotated and reattached. The tibial tuberosity is also removed and reattached at a different position. Steel bone plates are used for bone anchorage along with grafts to promote recovery. This option is far less expensive than TPLO (tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy), and if done properly, the dogs can begin moving the leg within a few days. This means a quicker recovery and less rehab time, which is why most dog owners prefer TTA over other surgical procedures.
After going over all of this, we can safely conclude that a dog cannot re-tear an ACL after surgery, as the goal of surgery is to remove the damaged ACL region or negate its purpose altogether. Your dog may get other types of knee injuries like meniscal tears or tissue damage but an ACL tear on the same knee is next to impossible.
What are the chances that my dog will tear the ACL on the other side?
As stated at the start of this, the odds of that happening are incredibly high. There is a 60% chance of it happening within a few months and there are multiple reasons for that happening.
Some dogs have a genetic predisposition to knee injuries; owners can’t do anything about that. However, there is a factor that can be controlled. It’s called, obesity and it’s by far the most alarming factor of all because it can cause a myriad of health problems.
Overweight dogs are more prone to bone injuries, cardiac disorders, respiratory and digestive problems; even kidney and excretory disorders. Also, some CNS disorders in dogs can be evaded if the owners were to do simple things for their lovely dogs like, carefully monitoring their food intake and making sure they get the proper amount of physical exercise. Taking care of your dog, the way you would of your child. Treat your animal companion like you would for a family member.
Healing after surgery
Ah yes! The most important part is what happens after surgery. Dogs are inherently playful and curious creatures. Being active and jittery is a part of who they are. They don’t know any better, but you do.
Rehab time usually varies between 8-12 weeks. During the first 4-6 weeks, the dog must be kept in a small, isolated space to ensure minimal activity. The surgically repaired leg should have a sling over it to provide stability.
Based on the dog’s progress, he/she is gradually permitted mild to moderate physical activity, then once the dog has healed completely, he/she will be allowed to return to their life, filled with joy, health, and vigor.
Conclusion.. Can a dog re-tear its ACL after a surgery?
As stated earlier the dog cannot re-tear its ACL after the surgery. The procedure is stable and done with utmost care. However, the post surgical care is must to make sure no complications arise and your dog can start playing the way he did in past. Take care of your little companion and cherish the beautiful moments you two spend together.