Canine Cruciate Ligament Disease

By Collen Lum, LVT

Also Known As, Bolt-Yelp-Three Leg Syndrome

It’s a nice, crisp, fall morning and you’re looking out through your window drinking a hot cup of coffee and your Labrador is beside you begging to go outside, so you open the door. He bolts out, jumping the decks steps towards an invading critter (i.e. squirrel, rabbit, unicorn, etc.)  and you hear a yelp. Sure enough he comes trotting back holding up one of his hind limbs. Sound familiar? More than likely, he injured his cranial cruciate ligament; possibly one of the most common stifle (knee) injuries in the dog.

The cranial cruciate ligament is one of the most important stabilizers of the knee joint in dogs, connecting the largest two bones in the hind limb together, and when it is injured can cause a lot of instability and pain. When it is torn, it is usually a result of slow degeneration (aging) that has been taking place over a few months or even years rather than the result of sudden trauma to a healthy ligament.

Factors and Predispositions

Therapeutic laser can be very beneficial for dogs with cranial cruciate ligament disease.

Therapeutic laser can be very beneficial for dogs with cranial cruciate ligament disease.

  • Middle aged dogs
  • Obese/poor physical condition
  • Highly active athletic dogs
  • Degeneration of the ligament (aging)
  • Genetics
  • Conformation
  • Breed
  • Previous injury to the opposite knee (40%-60% of dogs who have had CrCLD in one knee are more likely to injure their other cruciate ligament)

Diagnosis usually includes x-rays and examination of the knee by your veterinarian. Taking all factors into consideration will determine the best course of treatment for your dog (surgery vs conservative). If surgery is the best option, studies show that physical rehabilitation post operatively can speed up the recovery and improve the final outcome (website) as well as help prevent injury to the opposite knee. And in turn gets them back quicker to enjoying the things that they love.


Cranial Cruciate Disease. Website. .  Accessed on Aug 31, 2015.  American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Summers, Allecie. Common Diseases of Companion Animals 2nd Edition. Mosby Elsevier Copyright 2007

For Further Information:

  • Post  Surgical Rehabilitation for Pets
  • Case Studies
    • Doods – A corgi returning to agility competition after TPLO surgery
    • Spot – Orthotic Device for R Cruciate Tear
    • Zeke – A canine officer, returning to work after TPLO surgery
    • Dazy – L MRIT Surgery (Cruciate Tear) Post-Op Rehab