The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs provides stability to the knee (stifle) joint. Any strain, tearing or rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament can, and will, result in knee (stifle) instability. A strained cranial cruciate ligament can, in many cases, be repaired or heal itself without surgery. Strains should be treated with conservative management. Tears and ruptures of the cranial cruciate ligament require more drastic treatments such as orthopedic surgery. When it comes to surgical repair of the CCL, there are multiple CCL surgery options available and it is always best to consult with your veterinarian prior to deciding which option is best for your dog.
The necessity of the cranial crucial ligament (CCL) can be compared to the necessity of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that is found in humans. While there are people who have bypassed having surgery with a torn ACL, their knees are typically less stable for the remainder of their lives and their activity has to be severly limited. The same holds true for canines – should a torn or ruptured CCL be left untreated, the dog will survive, but may display lameness in the limb with the torn ligament, and the dogs activity level will not be the same as that of what it was prior to damaging the ligament.