Cranial cruciate ligament disease is the most common orthopedic condition in dogs. The overwhelming majority of cruciate problems in dogs can be attributed to ligament degeneration and is not typically a high energy traumatic injury like it is in people.
The condition is a degenerative one in dogs, with daily wear and tear resulting in damage to the ligament that cannot properly heal. Once the ligament has even a partial tear, the daily strains on the stifle with any weight bearing activity will eventually result in instability and abnormal sliding of the tibia with every weight bearing step (cranial tibial thrust). Certain breeds of dogs may have a body conformation that predisposes them to rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament even with normal daily activity.
Although a number of different surgical procedures may be employed depending on the patient's size, conformation, age, temperament and activity level, the basic premise of treatment is to remove the damaged ligament and stabilize the stifle.