Cruciate Ligament Rupture or Tear in Dogs and Cats
One of the biggest growing epidemics in small animal veterinary medicine today is the increasing diagnosis of ACL injuries, also known as anterior cruciate ligament rupture in dogs or meniscal damage of the stifles (knees) of dogs and in cats. When I graduated from veterinary school in 1991, ACL injuries were a rare diagnosis, usually only occurring in certain large breed dogs such as Rottweilers. However, today this diagnosis is rampant across all breeds and ages, costing animal guardians thousands of dollars in surgical fees to address this increasing epidemic.
While there is increasing research as to the role genetics plays in this disease, other evidence also points to an autoimmune destruction of the tissues that stabilize the stifle (or knee) joint of dogs, which means that these dogs’ own immune systems are reacting against their own tissues and bodies. While most animal guardians and even some vets feel ACL issues are traumatic in origin, genetic, hormonal (i.e low thyroid) and/or autoimmune/immune mediated causes are now considered more likely.
Again, actions like paying attention to healthy diets and avoidance of pet obesity, appropriate nutritional supplementation, as well as avoiding over vaccinating and overmedicating pets with pesticides all seem like prudent ideas in helping lessen the likelihood of illnesses like this, which in many cases are immune-mediated in response to these stressors in my opinion. While many veterinary surgeons feel early and aggressive surgical therapy with various surgical techniques offers the best options, with animals diagnosed with partial tears, often holistic therapies like physical therapy, prolotherapy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and homeopathy can often help avoid these expensive procedures in my opinion.
As the stability of many joint diseases originate with nervous system dysfunction of the spine, chiropractic evaluation and treatment can be helpful as well. In fact, I find it quite ironic that animal guardians pay thousands of dollars to have these expensive surgeries performed on their pets (sometimes on either stifles or knees) but most surgeons acknowledge that even with surgery, these pets will develop degenerative joint disease in the future.
Using joint supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin products like Super Joint Enhancer, fatty acids such as Super Omega 3, as well as antioxidants such as Proanthozone can all work together in helping strengthen the ligaments of the stifles. All natural white willow bark from taacan also help as natural anti-inflammatories. If necessary, veterinarians can prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, Metacam or Previcox to ease inflammation. However, it is important if your pet is on nutritional supplements, to make sure that your veterinarian is aware of what you are giving, as on occasion too many supplements and/or interactions with prescribed veterinary drugs can occur.
With time, patience and exploration of these various other modalities, many pets with at least partially torn cruciate or meniscal injuries of their stifles may be able to avoid the pain and expense of veterinary surgery.