Cruciate Surgery

Familypet Vet are experienced with identifying and treating cruciate disease and our vet’s are knowledgeable and caring about the most comprehensive treatment options.

Helping dogs stay mobile and active.

The stifle (or knee joint) of dogs is a very complex joint. Within the stifle are the cruciate ligaments which act to prevent the forwards and backwards motion of the bones within the joint. 

The cranial cruciate ligament acts to prevent the tibia sliding forward when weight is applied through the joint as your dog walks or runs. In most dogs this cruciate ligament undergoes slow weakening or degeneration over time. 

Eventually, this degeneration may lead to a partial or complete rupture of the ligament. Rupture of the ligament results in instability of the stifle joint as weight is applied through the joint.


Early signs of cruciate disease will appear as stiffness and a mild lameness of the hindlimb. Dogs may not place all their weight on the leg when standing or walking, and may be unable to sit straight. As the disease progresses these clinical signs become worse until dogs no longer want to put any weight on the leg.

When the ligament is damaged, it results in looseness and abnormal movement within the joint. This abnormal movement stretches the surrounding tissues causing pain. This movement can also damage the meniscus (cartilage pads) within the joint resulting in arthritic changes.

How is cranial cruciate disease diagnosed?

Often cruciate disease is suspected during a physical examination of your dog’s leg. However, definitive diagnosis will often require a general anaesthetic and x-rays.

During the general anaesthesia the joint can be palpated and laxity within the stifle joint assessed. An anaesthetic is required to avoid causing pain to your dog, and to relax the muscles, for the ligament to be appropriately assessed.

X-rays are also taken to help ensure a correct diagnosis, ensure there is not other disease, and allow planning of surgical repair of the ruptured cruciate ligament.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s mobility, or your dog is avoiding placing weight on one leg then please come in and see one of our vets who will be able to assess your dog and plan the next steps with you.

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