Alternatives to Cranial Cruciate Ligament Dog Surgery: What Are Your Best Options?

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CCL dog surgery

Your dog loves to play frisbee, leap into your truck, and chase your kids around the yard. Unfortunately, that much movement and energy has the potential to cause painful injuries in the future. 

It’s estimated that 85% of all orthopedic canine injuries relate to the cranial cruciate ligament, a ligament very similar to a human’s ACL. Even minor CCL tears cause significant pain, but left untreated they become debilitating. 

Before you make the assumption that surgery is the only option to treat your dog’s CCL tear, take the time to learn more about stem cell therapy, a new and innovative cruciate ligament dog alternative to surgery. 

What Causes Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?

A dog’s cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) functions just like a human’s ACL. It crosses over another cruciate ligament to create an X-shape inside the middle of the knee. Together, these ligaments allow a dog’s knees to hinge in motion without moving forward or backward in the joint.

However, a dog’s body isn’t built for straight and locked knees like a human’s or a horse’s. Instead, dogs always stand with a slight crouch to their back legs, placing excess tension and stress on the cruciate ligaments.

Most people would need to be tackled by a professional football player to suffer an ACL injury, but it’s much easier for dogs to experience a CCL tear. Dogs generate so much force and pressure in their knees that they can tear or rip them just by being overly active. As our dogs jump onto the couch, catch frisbees, and chase tennis balls, they are bringing themselves one step closer to rupturing or partially tearing their CCL.

Some dogs experience this as an acute injury that develops instantly. Acute CCL injuries are easy to identify because they’re painful, traumatic, and immediately alter a dog’s range of motion and behavior.

Other dogs experience a slow development of ligament problems, possibly due to years of arthritis or unresolved joint injuries in the past. Just like humans, dogs automatically shift pressure away from their injured or painful joints, which places undue tension and stress on the CCL ligaments instead. It’s only a matter of time before serious damage occurs.

Does My Dog Have a CCL Injury?

Your dog can’t talk to you and explain their pain, so interpreting their symptoms can be tricky. There’s one symptom that defines a CCL injury or CCL disease more than anything else: three-legged lameness.

Three-legged lameness occurs when your dog avoids placing any pressure or weight on one specific leg. They’ll barely touch the paw of that leg to the ground and limp as they walk. It’s important to understand that even if your dog exhibits three-legged lameness, they might not cry, whine, stop eating, or show other signs of pain. This is because they’re avoiding pain by limping and avoiding use of the leg with a CCL injury.

If your dog was forced to put full pressure on the injured leg, you’d most definitely hear and see signs of pain and agony.

What Are Surgery Options for Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury?

Just like an ACL, your dog’s CCL may suffer a partial or full tear. A partial tear is much easier to treat and responds to a wider range of therapies, whereas a full tear can only be addressed with surgery.

Two Main Surgical Options

The first surgical option for dogs with fully torn CCLs is a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) procedure. This advanced surgery involves changing the joint angle to help dogs bear weight comfortably. During TPLO surgery, the head of the tibia is cut and rotated to eliminate the need for a CCL at all. A titanium plate and screws anchor the tibia together. After a few months of recovery, canine patients can walk with relative ease.

The second method to address full CCL tears is a synthetic fiber anchoring procedure. Synthetic fiber is used to mimic a healthy cranial cruciate ligament and create a hinge joint. This restores stability and helps injured dogs place more weight on their legs.

What Happens If My Dog Doesn’t Undergo CCL Surgery?

A full CCL tear is a serious injury, but it’s still one that can be resolved with surgery. If your dog suffers a full CCL tear but doesn’t receive any surgical correction, the complications become unbearable.

First, your dog is nearly guaranteed to develop aggressive arthritis. The body instinctively triggers an arthritic response any time it senses instability in a joint; arthritis is the body’s way of attempting to fuse the injured joint solid to stop painful, damaging movements.

Arthritis is extremely painful, so without surgery you’ll watch your dog become progressively uncomfortable, irritable, and depressed. Even if your dog is only three or four years old, their knee joint will sustain the arthritic trauma of a 15-year-old dog’s within a year of their CCL tear.

But the damage doesn’t stop there. All the inflammation and destruction triggered by arthritis will cause your dog to shift all their weight to the opposite leg. This instinct protects your dog from additional pain, but it also forces the healthy leg to carry double the weight that it’s meant to carry. So much undue stress puts your dog at extremely high risk of rupturing the other CCL.

A dog with two blown CCLs can’t do anything without assistance. Even moving from a lying to sitting position becomes incredibly difficult, and the need for surgery extends from one leg to both legs.

Cranial cruciate ligament treatment

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery Cost for Dogs

The cost of TPLO surgery averages between $2,500 and $4,500, plus the costs of blood work, testing, pain medications, and follow-up visits. Due to the invasive nature of the surgery, anesthesia is required, along with an 8-12 week recovery period. This recovery time is critical for rehabilitation, and when done correctly it improves the likelihood of a safe and successful recovery.

However, it’s important to understand that dogs who completely rupture their CCL have a 50% possibility of blowing the other CCL on the opposite leg in the near future. This requires an additional surgery and doubles the cost of care.

Cruciate Ligament Alternative to Surgery: Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs

In the past, if your dog suffered a partial CCL tear, the injury created a ticking time bomb. Despite preventative measures like NSAIDs and rest, the majority of dogs with partially torn CCLs would suffer a complete rupture within a few months. It wasn’t a matter of “if”; it was a matter of “when,” since joints and ligaments under tension don’t heal well on their own.

This led many pet owners to put their dogs through CCL surgery before the full rupture had a chance to occur. They didn’t want to watch, wait, and hope for the best — they wanted to get ahead of the damage and make it impossible for a full rupture to ever occur.

Fortunately, stem cell therapy is changing all of that. Pet owners and their dogs now have access to a natural alternative powerful enough to heal partial CCL tears and prevent full ruptures in the future.

How Does Dog Stem Cell Therapy Help Torn Cruciate Ligament?

Stem cell therapy is an innovative natural therapy that stimulates healing in some of the most challenging parts of the body. Joints and ligaments have very poor blood supply, which explains why they can’t heal effectively on their own.

Stem cell therapy counteracts their poor healing mechanisms by reducing inflammation, triggering regeneration, and accelerating the body’s natural healing processes. Stem cell therapy infuses potent stem cells directly into your dog’s partially torn ACL. Those stem cells immediately anchor themselves to damaged tissues and secrete their own chemicals to reduce inflammation and direct other nearby cells to reverse the damage and stimulate healing.

The Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that cranial cruciate ligament dog surgery costs are unappealing — not just financially, but also physically and emotionally. Stem cell therapy has emerged as a cruciate ligament dog alternative to surgery. It saves dogs with partial CCL tears from the trauma of surgery by stimulating deep healing in the affected ligaments and joints.

For only a fraction of the cost of CCL surgery, stem cell therapy can even prevent the need for surgery on the second leg later by restoring your dog’s ability to once again bear weight normally on their legs.

You’d do anything to protect your dog’s energetic zest for life, so find out if a veterinarian clinic near you offers this powerful HUC-DT stem cell therapy.

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Is Stem Cell Therapy Right For Your Dog?

Download this free report and learn:
1. How & if stem cell therapy can help your dog
2. What you need to know before treatment
3. How stem cell therapy can save you money