What are Symptoms of a Torn ACL in Dogs?

There are many things you can look out for if you’re worried your dog injured their leg. Limping, while always a cause for concern, isn’t guaranteed to be caused by a leg injury either. So if your dog is limping, take them to the vet, but don’t panic about it being a symptom of a torn ACL in dogs. 

No matter what though, the first step should always be to contact your vet if you suspect your dog injured their leg. Researching through a blog post can only do so much compared to a real medical diagnosis. 

So, with that out of the way, what should you look for if you suspect your dog tore its ACL?

Is your Dog Showing Signs of Lameness? 

Lameness means your dog can’t use its leg properly. It often comes with pain or is caused by an injury, though it may be caused by an underlying disease or old age as well. However, one of the more common causes of lameness is a soft tissue injury, like a mild sprain or a tear, an injury to a ligament, bone or joint, or dislocation. 

In some cases, lameness develops slowly. If you notice your dog slowly losing its ability to walk, it’s probably not due to an injury, but you should still take them to see a vet to check for degenerative diseases, cancer, or arthritis.

 If the lameness is sudden, then it is likely caused by an injury. Your dog can hurt their legs by running, turning too quickly, jumping and landing wrong, or stumbling over something; any incorrect movement can cause them to hurt their leg. 

Lameness can happen in both legs too. In fact, dogs that tore their ACL in the past are more likely to tear their other leg’s ACL. This primarily happens during the recovery phase of the injury due to your dog not wanting to put all of their weight down on their injured leg. This causes a dramatic weight shift to their healthy leg, this increasing the chances of them hurting it too. 

Just remember that lameness may not be a sign of an injury at all! It could also be a sign of another joint or limb issue, like arthritis. Or, it could be as simple as your dog being stiff from laying down too long. Just keep an eye on them. If their condition doesn’t get better, contact your vet. 

Does Your Dog Sit Abnormally?

Like with lameness, your dog sitting in a weird position is not always an indicator that something is wrong. Some dogs just sit abnormally! Especially puppies, as they are more flexible and can get comfortable in the strangest positions. 

But if your adult dog is sitting or lying with their leg sticking out to the side rather than tucked in like normal, they may be trying to show you that it hurts to bend their knee. But if your dog normally sits like that or “sploots” (has all of their limbs stretched out while they lay on their stomach), then it’s probably not a cause for concern at all. 

Contrary to popular belief, the way your dog sits does not contribute to joint degeneration or cause arthritis. It may be a symptom of both, but the way they sit will certainly not cause it. 

Is Your Dog’s Knee Swelling?

This is a telltale sign that something is wrong. Swelling on any part of their body is never a good thing and often a sign that your dog is hurt. In the case of a torn ACL, there might be swelling around their knee. The swelling is caused from the joint bleeding after it’s torn. The swelling may not be too severe, as the ACL does not have a lot of blood flow going through it. 

Compare your dog’s two legs. If the one you think is injured looks bigger than their healthy rear leg, it might be a symptom of a torn acl. 

Does Swelling Mean My Dog’s in Pain?

If your dog’s leg is swollen, it doesn’t mean they’re in pain from it. ACLs don’t have nerve-endings, so they probably can’t feel the tear at all. That doesn’t mean they’re not feeling pain, though. Putting weight on an unsupported joint is uncomfortable and your dog may avoid using their hurt leg for a while. 

Is Your Dog’s Leg ‘Clicking?’

Yes, we do mean clicking. If your dog’s leg is making an audible sound when they walk, something is probably wrong with their knee. 

When they walk on an unstable knee, it puts more stress on other parts of their leg. The meniscus, which is cartilage around the knee and ACL, can easily tear from this stress. If it does get torn, it might create a clicking sound when your dog moves its knee while walking. A meniscus injury is quite uncomfortable and may also cause some degree of lameness in your dog’s affected leg. 

Can I Prevent Any of This?

If you went to the vet and found out your dog’s limping or lameness was caused by something easy and treatable, like a burr stuck in their fur, you can rest easy. A dog ACL brace can help prevent more serious injuries so you may never have to feel the same fear that you just did. 

Our braces are perfect for preventing an injury before it occurs. They are extremely durable and designed to withstand even the most enthusiastic dogs. 

Ordering one of our dog ACL braces online is easy! Head over to our sizing page to find the right fit for your dog.

If you have any questions about the brace or sizing, contact us at support@doggybrace.com

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