Kerwin says if your pet shows signs of an injured leg, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian who will conduct a lameness exam in order to diagnose the problem.
The injury is often treated in cats with medical management by placing overweight cats on a strict diet with exercise restriction for three to six weeks, followed by a check-up measuring progress. If the injury fails to heal, surgery is often recommended to explore and stabilize the joint.
But when dogs are afflicted with CCL injuries, many times the best option is surgery as quickly as possible.
"Dogs often don't do well with medical management, the injury will often worsen over time as the arthritis in the knee builds," explains Kerwin.
Dogs often require 8-12 weeks of recovery including strict rest and rehabilitation
Once your pet has undergone the recommended period of exercise restriction, it is important to encourage it to exercise its leg with slow leash walks or through playtime activities.
"The biggest way to prevent CCL tears is to keep your pet at a proper weight," Kerwin says.
It is very easy for animals to gain weight, especially if they spend most of their time indoors, because they do not get the same level of exercise. Your veterinarian can advise you on the proper weight for your dog or cat.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.