How do I know if my dog has a CCL tear?

Jun 03, 2024

Your primary care veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or veterinary surgeon can diagnose a CCL tear with the following:

  • Clinical history. Some CCL tears seem to happen abruptly after vigorous running, jumping, or playing, causing your dog to cry out in pain the second it happens. In other cases, the tear is less obvious because the CCL degenerates over time. You may see signs like stiffness after exercise, intermittent or consistent limping (lameness), and popping noises as the knee joint moves.
  • Physical examination. Your veterinarian will observe how your dog walks for any signs of lameness. He or she will also manipulate your dog’s knee to check for signs of instability and pain. If the tibia (shinbone) moves forward in relation to the femur (thighbone), a CCL tear can be diagnosed.
  • X-rays: X-Rays help rule out other causes for lameness and knee pain. They also may show changes associated with CCL tears, such as joint swelling and arthritis.
  • Arthroscopy: Arthroscopy involves insertion of a sterile camera into the knee joint to visualize its structures, including the CCL and menisci. It is performed while your dog is under general anesthesia. Not every facility has access to this technology, but at AESC, we confirm the diagnosis of CCL tear using this minimally invasive technique.