5 Steps to Healing Your Dog’s ACL Injury WITHOUT Surgery

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My dog’s torn ACL ligament, the main knee ligament, had me worried. I wondered if it could actually heal without surgery?

I’ve learned that there are five steps you can do at home to help your dog’s torn ACL ligament heal without resorting to surgery.

Understanding the ACL

The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is the primary ligament that stabilizes the knee. It runs from the femur (the big bone up top) down to the tibia, from the medial portion to the lateral tibial crest. This large, thick fibrous tissue is crucial for preventing the cranial motion of the tibia, which wants to slide forward. The ligament keeps the tibia stabilized so it doesn’t slide forward relative to the femur.

Diagnosing a Torn ACL

To diagnose a torn ACL, veterinarians look for a “drawer sign." This involves firmly holding the femur and tibia and checking if there’s cranial motion of the lower bone (the tibia) in relation to the femur. A substantial motion indicates a positive drawer sign, suggesting a torn ACL.

Exploring Non-Surgical Options

Not everyone can afford surgery, and not everyone wants to go through the risks associated with it. A study comparing non-surgical and surgical outcomes in large and giant breed dogs that were overweight found that two-thirds of the dogs in the non-surgical group had successful outcomes. This is especially significant for large or giant breed dogs, where surgery is often seen as the only option.

Activity Modification

The first step in healing without surgery is modifying your dog’s activity. For the first two weeks, your dog should be strictly confined, with minimal movement to allow scar tissue to form and provide stability. This activity modification extends over at least a 16-week period, with gradual increases in activity every two weeks. It’s crucial to avoid any sudden movements that could strain the knee.

Weight Management

If your dog is overweight, it’s essential to focus on diet and help them lose weight. This means switching to a higher protein, minimal carb diet, and reducing the amount of food and treats given. An easy remedy to aid weight loss is adding green tea to your dog’s diet, which can help increase their metabolic rate.

Medications and Supplements

To reduce pain and inflammation and support cartilage, consider using conventional NSAIDs initially. However, there are natural options like a good quality joint support supplement, CBD oil, and 95% curcumin. Topical treatments like DMSO combined with CBD can provide local pain relief directly to the knee.

Dr. Jones’ Ultimate CBD Formula is a liquid, available in either a 5ml (0.17fl oz), 15ml (0.5fl oz), or 30ml (1fl oz) bottle, with a medicinal quality dropper for very accurate dosage measurement.

Rehabilitation Therapy

Think of this as physiotherapy for your dog, with you being the therapist. Passive range of motion exercises, massaging the muscles around the knee, and hydrotherapy are all crucial components. These exercises help produce joint fluid, build muscle, and provide natural pain relief.

Using a Knee Brace

A knee brace can help stabilize the injured knee and support the non-injured knee, decreasing the chance of a secondary rupture. It’s essential to get a well-designed brace that can support both knees, as dogs with a torn ACL in one leg are more likely to injure the other leg.


By focusing on activity reduction, weight loss, medication for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and using a knee brace, there’s a good chance of helping your dog heal without surgery. It’s essential to be patient and consistent with these steps to give your dog the best chance of recovery.

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1 thought on “5 Steps to Healing Your Dog’s ACL Injury WITHOUT Surgery”

  1. Excellent! I have found that many of these approaches to work on horses.Now I am doing this for myself. Some knowledge of Biomechanics is necessary but your explanation is really easy to follow.You Rock!

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