Signs of a Torn ACL in Dogs and Treatment Options

torn acl in dogs
torn acl in dogs

Are you worried that your dog may have a torn ACL? If so, we can help with that. 

In this article, we will outline the signs of a torn ACL in dogs as well as give you specific ideas for helping them be more comfortable during the healing process. Furthermore, we’ll cover things you can do to help them heal faster and keep them from getting hurt again. 

Symptoms of A Torn ACL in Dogs

There are several symptoms your dog may exhibit that can indicate a torn ACL. You may need to observe your dog for several days to confirm them. Be patient throughout this observation process and be sure to make an appointment with your vet if your pet is showing any of these symptoms.

Sitting Awkwardly 

If your pet seems to be sitting in awkward positions like with their leg to one side instead of underneath them this could be a symptom of a torn ACL. This is because the torn ACL is making it painful to bend their knee. 

Needless to say, it will also make it hard for them to walk as well. 

Walking Carefully

When your dog stands up they may automatically shift their weight to their other three legs. They may even avoid putting the injured leg down at all.

This takes the pressure off of their injured leg, but it causes them to have limited mobility, making them more prone to lethargy.


The injured leg may make them want to just lay around. They may not be interested in playing like they normally do. Don’t force them to move around too much if they seem to insist on laying around.

As a matter a fact, if they are laying around a lot more than usual, it could be a sign to make an appointment with the vet sooner rather than later. This lethargy may be caused by increased swelling in their leg and knee (in addition to other potentially non joint related issues.)


A ruptured ACL in dogs may cause swelling in their leg or knee along with discomfort. Subsequently, scar tissue can form causing the joint to appear larger long term. It’s important for you to speak to a vet as soon as possible if you notice any significant swelling.

How to Treat a Torn ACL in Dogs

If you think your dog may be suffering from a torn ACL you should call and make an appointment with your vet. They will be able to determine if it is a torn ACL and whether it requires any extensive medical treatment.

While you’re waiting for your appointment you can take these steps to make sure that your dog is both as comfortable as possible and also avoids aggravating the situation. Keep in mind most dogs can recover from a torn ACL with little to no permanent damage.

Restrict Movement

Rest is one of the best ways to help your dog heal. In fact, your dog may already be way ahead of you (see above about lethargy). You can help restrict their movement by making a few changes in your home. Do this by setting up a small area for them to rest.

When choosing the area to put them in, keep the distance from the door in mind. You don’t want them to have to go far to go outside to potty. You also want to choose an area that you and your family use a lot so they can feel close to you. 

Additionally, keep their bed as well as their food and water bowls close to this resting area. Feel free to also bring their toys into this area. A little pampering never hurt anybody ;-)!

If you have multiple stories in your home it may be a good idea to block off your stairs with a pet or baby gate. You can also use these in doorways to further restrict unnecessary movement. 

Diet & Supplements

Generally, for injuries of this nature, your furry friend will need to rest for about six weeks. During this time, paying some extra attention to diet may be necessary. If your dog increases in weight it may make it harder to heal since additional weight can put unnecessary strain on your dog’s torn ligament. 

You may also consider adding a joint care supplement to their diet. Our “Complete Joint Care For Dogs” supplement can help give your dog a boost in their recovery. In fact, even after your dog recovers, it is recommended to continue giving them a daily joint care supplement to support optimal joint health. Just one simple habit can go a really long way for preventing future issues.

Use a Brace

A brace can help give your dog some relief from their discomfort. Be sure the brace fits your pet properly and isn’t putting too much pressure into their skin. You should be able to fit two fingers in between the brace and their leg. 

The compression from the brace should help with any pain and swelling. That being said, brace or not, you should still be mindful and help your dog take it easy. Aggressive or high impact activities can do more damage during the healing process.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

If your home has hardwood floors or tiles, don’t leave towels or blankets on the floor. Hardwood floors and tiles can be slippery enough to begin with. You definitely don’t want them to misstep on a towel or blanket and hurt themselves more.

Another thing to pay attention to is to listen for possible clicking noises in your dog’s joint/s. This could be another indicator of a torn ACL in dogs. If you hear this, be sure to mention this to your vet. 

That’s all for now : -)

Hope you found this helpful and we’re wishing your pup a speedy recovery!

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