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ACL Tear Treatment for Dogs Anthony NM

It starts with the history. Clients may describe mild to moderate on-and-off lameness that has lasted for weeks, months or years. They may interpret the lameness as exercise intolerance. The patient may be stiff in the morning or after rest or exercise.

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How to Confirm Partial ACL Tear

Few things are as frustrating as trying to diagnose a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear. A dog presenting with hind limb lameness but no obvious drawer sign is a common situation.

We asked surgeon Bernard Paré, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, of Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove, Ill., to share tips on how he diagnoses partial ACL tears.

History and Signalment

Bernard Paré, DVM, Dipl. ACVS
Bernard Paré, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, practices at Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove, Ill.

It starts with the history. Clients may describe mild to moderate on-and-off lameness that has lasted for weeks, months or years. They may interpret the lameness as exercise intolerance. The patient may be stiff in the morning or after rest or exercise.

Patients with bilateral ACL tears may appear to have a neurological problem such as lumbo-sacral disease.

The signalment may be helpful as well: Most patients are 5 to 7 years old on average. Breeds commonly afflicted with ACL tears include Labradors, Rottweilers, Akitas, mastiffs and St. Bernards. Some breeds, like Akitas, often have hyperextended hocks and stifles, which increases stress on the ACL. Other breeds, like bulldogs, tend to be toed-in. This internal tibial rotation increases stress on the ACL. Being overweight could be a contributing factor.

Orthopedic Exam

The next step is a physical exam and an orthopedic exam with the patient awake. The patient may shift weight onto the “good leg” while standing in the exam room. It...

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