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Cruciate Disease in Dogs

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What is Cruciate Disease?

Cruciate disease is the most common orthopaedic disease in dogs and often requires surgical intervention. Inside the canine knee are two crossing ligaments joining the femur and the tibia. These are known as the cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments. The cranial cruciate ligament, in particular, is an important stabiliser of the knee joint, preventing forward motion of the tibia out from under the femur. A complete or partial rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament leads to joint instability and lameness. If left untreated this can result in severe arthritis as unnatural movement damages protective joint cartilage.

How is cruciate rupture diagnosed?

During an examination, your veterinarian will feel both knees and test for unusual instability in the knee joint. If your veterinarian suspects ligament rupture has occurred they will recommend taking x-rays under sedation to further assess the knee.

Why does cruciate ligament rupture occur?

There are many factors which contribute to the eventual rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament. These include age, gender, obesity and genetic predisposition. Medium to large breed dogs over the age of four are predisposed. In most cases degeneration of the ligament occurs gradually over months or years before rupture. Unlike humans, sudden traumatic rupture of an otherwise healthy ligament is rare in dogs. In affected dogs, cruciate ligament degeneration is generally present in both knees. This means that dogs who rupture the cranial cruciate ligament in one knee are likely to also rupture the ligament in the other knee in the future.

Treatment of cranial cruciate ligament rupture

In the vast majority of cases, surgical treatment of cruciate ligament rupture is required. There are a range of different surgical techniques and your veterinarian will consult with a specialist to determine the most suitable option for your dog.

Cruciate Rupture Surgery


TPLO (Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy)

TPLO is the gold standard surgical repair option. It involves remodelling the knee joint to eliminate the need for a cruciate ligament. TPLO is the procedure of choice for most cases of cruciate ligament rupture and results in the best surgical outcome.

The Recovery Process

Over 90% of dogs return to normal activity after surgery. Recovery involves several weeks of physiotherapy and gradual return to exercise. Much of this treatment can be performed at home. Your veterinarian may recommend additional physiotherapy in the form of Equissage massage or hydrotherapy.

Why Choose Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic?

  1. We have fully trained staff that work to a high standard of care. We treat every patient as if they were our own and ensure that their experience at the vets is as stress-free as possible.
  2. All our surgeries are air conditioned, and we regularly invest in the very best modern veterinary diagnostic instruments, x-ray, laboratory, anaesthetic and surgical equipment. This means your pet will receive the best possible care and treatment
  3. All patients are monitored throughout their anaesthetics by a fully qualified nurse. We ensure that your pet’s anaesthetic is suited to their needs, ensuring that every patient gets treated as an individual.
  4. We promise to update you regularly throughout the day. We know how stressful it can be to leave your pet at the vet and want to ensure that we keep your mind at rest.
  5. Everything we do is with the goal of making high-quality care for your pet affordable, whatever your budget.

To book your free pre-operative assessment and to discuss this package further please call the clinic now on 02 9516 0234

How much does cruciate surgery cost?

Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic have a package deal to cover cruciate surgery. This package includes a free pre-operative assessment, the preoperative x-rays and sedation, the procedure itself and all post-op procedures including physiotherapy treatment.

We encourage our medical staff to continue their education in specialist fields in order to expand their knowledge and keep it up to date. Our aim is to discuss all aspects of your pet’s health with you, offering you all the options that are available in treatment and prevention. The preoperative assessment will include a full health examination and discussion of your dog’s condition.

Once we have established the severity of the cruciate disease through radiographs, we will book your dog in for surgery. We will ask that you bring your dog into us during the morning, and surgery will be performed that day. You will receive regular phone updates to let you know how your dog is getting on. Once the surgery is completed, we will keep your dog comfortable with pain relief and allow them to recover in our recovery area. We will keep your dog overnight to ensure they are fully recovered before returning home.

At discharge, we will discuss your dog’s procedure with you and explain any post-operative medications. We will ask that your dog is kept quiet and has restricted exercise to allow the cruciate to heal. We will also discuss post-operative physiotherapy and the benefits of hydrotherapy.