Cracker the German Shepherd Cross -cruciate ligament injury

Cracker shares more than just his name with a football player; a cruciate ligament injury too!
Cracker the 10 year old German Shepherd Cross was brought to the Reservoir Veterinary Clinic after he yelped and was unable to walk on his right hind leg while running in his backyard. Dr Andrea performed a full examination and when she found something of interest.

Dr Andrea checked Cracker's right stifle she found that he had cranial draw which indicated that he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. This ligament is one of two found inside the stifle joint (knee) and is often injured by dogs (and footballers). The ruptured ligament meant that Cracker's knee was unstable which causes pain, discomfort and arthritis.

Dr Wayne admitted Cracker into the hospital one week later so that he could have surgery to repair his knee. Prior to his anaesthetic Cracker was placed on intravenous fluids (drip). This was performed so that his blood pressure was maintained during his anaesthetic as well as to support kidney function by ensuring there was adequate blood flow to them. The intravenous fluids also assisted Cracker in excreting the anaesthetic drugs from his system. Before Cracker was anaesthetised Dr Wayne administered some opioid analgesia to Cracker so that he would experience minimal pain and this was repeated throughout the surgery and when he was in recovery.

Dr Wayne took radiographs of Crackers hips and spine while he was anaesthetised to assess if he had developed any arthritis as he is no longer a ‘spring chicken'. Surprisingly his radiographs showed that he had minimal arthritis development in these areas.

Dr Wayne surgically opened Cracker's knee joint and removed the torn cruciate ligament, while nurse Sommer carefully monitored his anaesthetic. Dr Wayne fashioned a graft of tissue from the knee cap ligament and placed this where the cruciate ligament should be. Cracker stayed in hospital for 24 hours after his surgery so that we could administer him appropriate pain relief until he was able to hop around on three legs. Cracker is now touching his toe to the ground and is bearing some weight on his ‘new' leg. It will take another 4 weeks until it is completely healed and then he will feel like a new dog again.

How can you stop this from happening to your pet?

  • Tearing of the cruciate ligament occurs when the ligament is diseased and/or there are excessive forces placed on the knee.
  • It most commonly occurs in overweight dogs when they are exercising.
  • You can prevent this from happening to your dog, by keeping him/her at a healthy weight and managing any arthritis or joint pain that they may develop early on.