Cruciate Cruciate Rupture: Missing The Big Picture

"I have just discovered that my mom's dog, Dodger, has a cranial cruciate tear, and possibly a meniscal tear as well. The vet recommends surgery ASAP, but it sounds costly and dangerous. Also, the pain medication makes him much more miserable than nothing at all. Is there an alternative treatment that can help Dodger? In the meanwhile, he's really mastering walking on three legs."

This month has seen three emails about dogs with cranial cruciate ligament injuries, so it seems a timely topic to cover. As with most things in disease, there's a deeper story that's often missed in the rush to "fix what's broken" that conventional medicine is so good at.

You know the surgeon's motto, right? "A chance to cut is a chance to cure."

It's a shame that they don't know what cure really looks like.

No, surgery does not cure patients, especially torn cruciate ligament patients.

Here's another example from my inbox this week:

"My 5 year old yellow lab Ginger, is as healthy as a dog can be - very energetic, happy, and just an overall joy; however, two years ago she tore her ACL (or cruciate) and we had the TPLO surgery done (as you know, a very expensive surgery). The surgery went well but she started developing some arthritis and would limp a little after a long walk. Just about a month ago, she leaped up the stairs, and the Vet told us that she has torn the other leg's cruciate. Considering I am getting married this year, the last thing I would like to do is spend $4,000 on the surgery and have to see her such a mess the weeks after surgery."

What's Wrong With This Picture?

We're talking about damage to connective tissue, ligaments holding bones together, in this case in the knee, aka stifle in our animals. Humans have anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) and animals have the very same ligaments, called cranial cruciate ligaments (CCL). When a football player "blows out his knee," that's usually a cruciate ligament injury, and its usually a result of extreme contact in the game.

How about dogs?

The rupture of knee ligaments in the dog is often not a result of strenuous contact, though a dog stepping in a hole while running can be part of the history in some cases. But we really need to look to those who study these cases carefully to find the deeper reality.

Fact: Knee inflammation usually precedes rupture.

Fact: Many dogs present with bilateral (both sides) rupture. Do you suppose they fell in two holes? No, of course not.

Fact: Just like Ginger, a rather large percentage go on to rupture the other side after the original one has been repaired at great expense and lots of awkward cage rest. This study of close to 400 dogs in three geographically different groups showed 54% rupturing the other side within two and a half years of the surgery. These figures were remarkably close to several other studies cited by the authors.

As you can imagine, cure has in no way taken place in those dogs who were operated on, right?

Cure is, by definition, not only symptom relief but the overall betterment of the patient's health and well being.This state persists without the continued use of medicines.

If more than half rupture the other side later on, it's not difficult to see the underlying disease was not cured.

And did you notice both writers above used the words "costly" or "expensive?" Yes, thousands of dollars to "fix" a lameness that's likely to come to haunt the other leg.

Not a great investment, is it?

Missed Understanding: Inflammation First, Rupture Later.

The researchers in the study linked above, and those in this one, and this author, all saw inflammatory markers in the joint fluid of animals presenting with cruciate ligament disease. The last one spelled out clearly that this is a disease of multiple joints.

Why the inflammation?

A common theory is autoimmune disease, the attack on one's own tissues by a confused immune system. The balanced immune system should be watchful for foreigners and leave "self" alone. When the difference between foreign invaders, cancer cells, and one's own tissues is blurred, we have the very large group of diseases known as autoimmune.

Autoimmune? Oh Oh.

Why would the immune system attack the individual it was designed to protect? There are reasons, all of them man made:

  1. Vaccinations. The biggest reason for immune confusion ever.
  2. Exposure to solvents. Ever notice the high percentage of ingredients in your topical flea treatments that are called "inert?" Yep: solvents. They'll take the color off your leather couch, if you're not careful.
  3. Heartworm preventatives. Jean Dodds' work showed this in DVM Magazine years ago.

Some truly scary autoimmune diseases include:

  • IMHA--Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (attack on one's own red blood cells)
  • IMTP--Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (attack on one's platelets, the cells that help blood to clot)
  • Addison's Disease (adrenal gland attack by self)
  • IBD--Inflammatory Bowel Disease (chronic inflammatory vomiting and/or diarrhea. Super common in cats..)
  • pemphigus and lupus (skin deterioration from immune attack)

Prevention Causing Autoimmune Disease? Damn.

Well, if you're counting, you'll see the top three reasons for these illnesses come from the "prevention" promoted by Dr. WhiteCoat. Have you stepped out of that paradigm yet?

If you were to take just one step to safer ground, it would be to opt out of repeated vaccinations in adult animals, regardless of species. You know they don't work, right?

Treatment Options for Cruciate Ligament Disease.

So, to sum up, the underlying reason cruciate ligaments fail is likely man made multiple joint inflammation (ever see a wolf with a bum knee? Me neither.) That inflammation led to weakening of the ligaments of the knee which eventually ruptured, causing your dog to be lame.

Likely you've been offered a state of the art, multi-thousand dollar surgery called TPLO to "put things back together." Weeks of cage rest follow, so your expensive investment doesn't fall apart and the other knee blow from overuse.

Whoa there. Check this research first!

There's a study here, published in the AVMA Journal, showing dogs who got this TPLO surgery were 40X more likely to develop bone cancer.

Guess where it occurs?

Right in the "proximal tibia," i.e. the site of the bone cutting surgery!

Not only is this osteosarcoma a horribly painful cancer, it's pretty much uniformly fatal, even if they "take the leg" off that has the tumor.

How about drugs, instead?

Common drugs used for bum knees include the NSAIDs which damage joints while dampening the pain signals that would tell your dog to slow down, and take it easy. Likely Dodger's stomach was upset by these drugs.

So, who you gonna call?

I've treated a handful of these dogs over the years, and none have had to go to surgery. They've become sound to a large extent, with homeopathic treatment tailored to the "whole animal." They are treated as individuals, so there's no "one size fits all remedy" as is common in conventional medicine.

But I've also seen some simple acute remedies help in the short term, and I cover my cruciate protocol in the my acute homeopathy membership group, Vital Animal Alpha. Who knows? I may add this protocol as a bonus to signing up for my Vital Animal Pack (you'll see how at the bottom of this post). My pack members are the first to hear of all new courses, and they may receive an early bird discount.

To get to the depth of this cruciate disease though, view it as the chronic disease that it truly is. Hire a veterinary homeopath to help you steer a course to curing the dog who has the disease.

An acupuncturist who knows her stuff may be another good option. But emphasis needs to be placed on cure, not just pain relief.

Meanwhile, at home, get a well made knee brace. That's especially helpful in the bigger guys (over 50 lbs). My friend Jim Morrison offers professionally made braces. Click here to get in touch with him (and tell him Vital Animal sent you).

Ever had a dog who had this disease? We welcome your stories in the comments below.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Print This Article

Click below, press print, and enjoy offline reading.

[social_warfare buttons="print"]


Leave a Reply Cancel Reply


  1. Cathy Thomas on October 5, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Very good information! I have had 3 Presa Canario dogs have torn CCLs and I elected not to do surgery…they weighed approximately 100 lbs each. With high doses of chrondoitin and glucosamine and Accupunture all dogs healed with same “leash exercise” and eliminating running during recovery. All ended up having normal activity of running and swimming after recovery!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 6, 2021 at 10:50 am

      That’s great news, Cathy! Dogs that big, I’ve often thought braces would be necessary, but you’ve proved that wrong. Bravo!

      On average, how long did it take to get to full recovery where you could allow running again?

  2. Emily on September 8, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I have a 3 year old English Bulldog who has had issues with both his back leg CCLs over the past year. I have fed him raw since a puppy, don’t vaccinate routinely—only required vaccines, don’t use heartworm/tick meds, and give many supplements. He has no health issues except a hiatal hernia which was surgically repaired earlier this year and he’s doing great since the surgery. No skin issues…a truly healthy bully. He pulls terribly on the leash so that’s why I’m assuming he’s had knee issues. Luckily I have a physician medicine and rehab vet in my area who I sent him to for much rehab after he “partially” tore his left and months later his right. At that time, the surgeon in the group saw him and said he felt he didn’t need surgery and to continue with rehab. When he injured each leg, he was slightly lame for a couple days each time and that was it. About two months ago he was outside and started major lameness on the right leg that persisted for 3-4 days so we carried him around as didn’t want him to further injur his leg. I gave arnica, 2 weeks later Ruta, then a month later Calc carb. He went to therapy 8 times over the past month without any lameness and is doing very well…never shows signs of injury or pain, just his legs don’t look super straight and upright which is concerning. Just last week I had the same surgeon evaluate him and he said the right leg was fully torn and had much fluid and arthritis on the right knee and suggested he have surgery on that knee….nothing urgent and elective but would give him a better quality of life down the road especially since he’s so young. He’s a very active bulldog and my baby so can’t imagine him having limited mobility when he’s older as I’d feel terrible for not doing the surgery earlier but at the same time wonder if he needs surgery since he’s walking just fine and shows no signs of lameness or pain. What should I do? Kills me as everything I read says feed raw, don’t give chemicals/meds, and don’t over vaccinate and I do all those things.

  3. Diana Welsch on May 16, 2021 at 8:42 am

    My rescue Ridgeback had the surgery and died four years later of osteosarcoma in the exact spot as the surgery. She was rescued as a senior and the damage was done. She had seven teeth pulled shortly after adopting her. She smelled and her coat was sticky. Of course no vaccs, flea and tick, or heartworm during the four years I had her, and excellent diet and care. Can we also talk about spaying and neutering too young? My first rescue Ridgeback was spayed at eight weeks old. She died at the age of five of thrombocytopenia, after a stroke. My third rescue Ridgeback was vaccinated every time she hit the shelter (I was her third owner by the time she was one years old). She was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur, but hopefully with good care, she will live a long life. What needs to happen so that we change the frightful things we impose on our pets?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 16, 2021 at 10:03 pm

      Knowledge needs to change. And with more of it in the minds of animal caregivers, empowerment blossoms.

      Only then will unnecessary and potentially harmful vet recommendations be refused (or, minimally, postponed, while more research is done). No more blind trust of “prevention” recommendations. That’s where the trouble usually begins.

  4. Francene on February 3, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    My English Bull mix, Lola, had the TPLO surgery on both knees, just six months apart, to the tune of over $8000. Took me 2 years to pay it off. I was made to feel that the surgery had to be done ASAP, and I couldn’t stand to see her in pain. She couldn’t sit or lay down without help getting up. She is 11 now and is very active though she looks a bit pigeon toed. She has been on a raw diet for the past 4 years and I’ve stopped all chemicals and vaccines. (Since I lost my beautiful Boxer to bone cancer, I have done a lot of research and I feel so guilty about believing everything the vet told me). I had no idea that her knee issues could have been related to the vaccines.

  5. Donna on January 31, 2021 at 10:02 am

    My 10-year-old Pyr ran into some deep snow after a fox. Tore her right CCL. Yes, sadly, I was made to feel like a degenerate owner for considering no surgery. Had the fishlike surgery done followed by rehab. She is now 12. Her right hind leg shakes a lot.

    She was vaccinated when brought into rescue at 6-months-old. As time went, I had her rabies done a couple of years later. She developed itching so she was scraping herself along the road. Prednisone was given. I turned down the kibble. At that point I questioned what was making her so itchy. Fired that vet. At about three, I got her into raw. And itching stopped.

    Found a wholistic vet only in the last year. Herbal remedies helped.

    I am hoping that her other leg doesn’t go. She does have DM, something that seems accepted as part of an aging large breed.

  6. Joy Metcalf on June 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Years ago, I had a terrier-shepherd cross that blew her cruciate ligament while we were playing. The vet told me it was the way she landed (she was holding onto a stick while I spun her around once, her favorite game). Whoops! So I opted for the surgery and after a long convalescence, she recovered. Within TWO MONTHS, the other cruciate ligament went, and without any play whatsoever. “Oh,” says my vet, “that’s common. When one goes, the strain from putting weight on only one side weakens the other.” So, I opted for the surgery again. The dog was only about 4 or 5 years old, and I loved her dearly.

    That was back before I lost two cats and a pregnant mare to vaccines, discovered alternative medicines (especially homeopathy), and smartened up. My last two dogs have been adult rescues, and once they’re with me, they never get another vaccine. I wish I’d known sooner.

  7. Kristi on June 21, 2020 at 9:15 am

    At 8 1/2 my 18 lb dog had a partial tear, running and darting. I had been warned it was likely with this particular knee. I ordered a brace and gradually it repaired itself. She hated it but oh well. Now at 10 1/2 , raw fed, on joint supplements, turmeric, green lipped mussel she is doing well.

  8. mark on March 5, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    This happened to my extra large labrador golden retriever mix. After running hard, he was limping, then only able to walk on three legs. Then a few days later, a loud cracking sound, which I came to learn that was the damaged meniscus. I went to several vets, all were adamant about tplo surgery as the gold standard, but after researching the dangers of tplo, and pain and suffering and No guarantee the surgery would go well and after surgery, he may never walk normally again, I decided on NO surgery. With more research, came across the posh dog knee brace. We tried that and it did work wonders at supporting the knee for short dog walks right away. No cage time needed. We followed the protocol and in less than a month the cracking sound stopped, so the meniscus had healed. Then wearing the brace twice daily for dog walks and the dog walks were longer and longer, and his walking improved to normal. We kept using the posh brace for dog walks for many months to make sure the knee was better. He was walking normally in only a few months. He hasn’t worn the brace for over a year now and has been normally ever since. With the support of the posh brace, the other knee never failed. Never bought the painful tplo or tta surgery. I found the posh brace at Best decision was avoiding the tplo or tta surgery nightmare. The posh brace made this possible.

    • Leah on December 12, 2019 at 12:48 am

      What was the protocol that you followed? Was it from push dog knee brace?

  9. Debbie Baran on February 14, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for your suggestions. I would have no idea where to look for a NR golden breeder. I’m actually on a wait list for a puppy from Callie’s sire’s original breeder. Breeding hasn’t occurred yet. While I am waiting, I will see if I can find a natural breeder. I plan to raise the next puppy as natural as possible and am thankful found your site. I beleive Callie was healthy and I did most things right to keep her healthy. One thing I question now though is the diet as I fed her grain free boutique foods (Fromm, Zignature) and these have now been linked to DCM. I don’t feel that the answer is to go with conventional foods and still believe strongly in holistic diets, raw diets, etc. I know to avoid feeding legumes bc it blocks taurine. Not sure how I feel about feeding grain though since the researchers caution about feeding grain-free diets. I am curious about your thoughts on the latest research regarding DCM and the grain free foods and how to avoid taurine deficiency. Thanks again.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on February 20, 2019 at 3:21 am

      A balanced and varied raw diet will trump anything, and meat is a great source of taurine. Here’s one I’ve liked for years:

      Also, supplemental sardines (in oil or water) are a very high source of taurine.
      Just avoid a mono diet. No wolf would ever eat that way.

  10. Debbie B on February 12, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Forgot to give Callie’s age in above comment. She had just turned 8 before we lost her in July 2018.

  11. Debbie B on February 12, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    So I have just “stumbled” upon your site after reading about you on the Golden Retriever Forum from another member. My golden, Callie, partially tore her CCL November of 2017. We saw both a conventional and a holistic vet. Took her to holistic vet for acupuncture, underwater treadmill PT, cold laser, rested her, and supplemented her already holistic diet with ligaplex and other supplements. I was conservative with vaccines and worked with my conventional vet in not over vaccinating. I did however give the 3 year rabies vaccine as scheduled. Titer one time for distemper and parvo and one was “low” so I was talked into revaccination for that. Fast forward, she had a setback, sprinted to my neighbor’s and ended up tearing the CCL completely in June 2018. This happened after having gone for the PT and acupuncture/chiro tx for about 7 months. So it didn’t stabilize enough with the holistic tx unfortunately. After the tear, I panicked, took her to conventional vet who confirmed full tear. Consulted with a surgeon who ended up doing TTA surgery. We unfortunately lost her 3 weeks post surgery . The ER vet suspected a blood clot. I will never know for sure what happened to cause her sudden passing. What I do know, is I lost the love of my life and am deeply heartbroken. I Will be for eternity. I wish I had some answers. Perhaps what you have written about regarding CCL really being an autoimmune disease. But we tried the holistic route and it wasn’t enough. Maybe you can give me some insight bc no one seems to be able to do that. And I am on a waitlist to get another golden and need to figure out what to feed, vaccinations, and preventing this from happening again. I also worry about DCM bc I fed Callie a grain free diet primarily and much of the foods I had been feeding are suspect foods according to the UC Davis research. Please help.

    Thanks, Debbie

    • Will Falconer, DVM on February 14, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Hey Debbie,

      I’m so sorry for your loss. 8 years old is way too young to die, though every soul is born with its death scheduled (I’m told from sources I deeply trust).

      What we have in our hands are choices. When we learn more, we can do better the next time around.

      What I’d suggest now is:
      1. find a NR breeder of these dogs, one who’s avoided vaccinating the breeding stock, feeds them balanced raw food, and uses pest controls that aren’t poison for fleas and heartworm.
      2. Be sure you’re on my course wait list and looking for an email about my Natural Rearing Roadmap Course. In it, I teach you how to make all the best nature-based decisions for a new pup, from conception to 1 year of age. Currently in line for a late May enrollment opening.

  12. TinaT on July 30, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    My big girl – 160lb english mastiff – tore her CCL while hiking at age 5.5yrs. She finished the hike with a bad limp… we rested it, but it never went away and we finally got it diagnosed by the vet: CCL tear; surgery recommended.

    After researching the options, cutting bone to heal a ligament just did not sit right with me. I found a Conservative Management support group, and they’ve been awesome.

    It’s been 1.5 years since the injury, and my mastiff has been back to 90%+ of all activity for about 4 months now (we’re adding more activity back slowly). The second knee is still fine (although our current vet did say it was a little ‘loose’, so the potential for injury is there). We have exercise “homework” from our vet to regain muscle and flexibility, and balance her gait again, which is all doing wonders. We did get a Posh brace for her, but she did fine without using it much.

    She’s a happy girl, and I’m very glad we never put her through the pain of bone-cutting surgery.

    I will say, being a mastiff in a pretty laid back family, the extra R&R required to heal the knee has not been a huge problem for us. A more active dog might have a harder time with it.

    • Suzanne on February 16, 2023 at 1:36 pm

      What is a conservative management group?

  13. Joellyn on August 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I have two Havanese. Both of them have torn ACL…back right leg for one, both back legs for the other. Initially I took the first one to a board certified orthopedic surgeon. He saw dollar signs and tried to push me into a very invasive TPLO surgery using a lot of scare tactics and guilt-tripping. Luckily, I was led to, who is now, my primary vet – 30 years conventional medicine turned animal chiropactor, homeopathic and nutritional vet. He uses micro-current to aid the body’s natural healing abilities to heal itself. It is time consuming, weeks of therapy, and not cheap…but neither dog has had surgery and the tears are healed. I dodn’t see micro-current mentioned so I wanted to throw that into the mix.

  14. Gloria on February 12, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I had posted this as a reply on an older question, but thought I would put it here for general anecdotal information. I rehabilitated my Rottie from 2 knee injuries (RR and 2 weeks later LF) using the tiggerpoz site information. Basically what you are doing is allowing scar tissue to develop, which stabilizes the joint. Yes it takes quite some time to fully heal and yes it is very hard to keep a puppy or even young dog on very limited mobility. Sammy’s injuries happened when he was going through a huge growth spurt when he was 8 months old. Their joints are very unstable when that is happening as everything does not grow at the same speed.
    This winter (he is almost 3 now) he started being a bit slow getting up, especially after a lot of activity. (Overnight rest would make him fine in the morning) I started researching turmeric as I had success with my own tendonitis with it (nothing else would work). On FB, there is a group called Turmeric User Group which was started by a vet in Australia (Doug English). You make a paste called Golden paste with organic turmeric, coconut oil, fresh cracked pepper, and Ceylon Cinnamon. It is cooked, and the extra ingredients make it metabolically available. Turmeric is a natural anti inflammatory and will relieve pain. It also has a lot of other great properties to promote healing. This is what I use for my Sammy and it works great. It has also helped me greatly with my arthritis in my hands.
    I am a huge proponent of good food, natural remedies, and do not believe in over vaccination of dogs, heartworm poison, or flea / tick poison (had a seizure dog previously, and learned way too much). I am so thankful that I found Doug English’s research. It is always great to find things that work with next to no side effects (after all, turmeric is a food). 🙂 I am also lucky that we now have a good holistic vet (certified vet, accupuncture, and chiropractic) in my town. Thank goodness after the abuse I received from my other local vet.
    I think vets are way too quick to jump to surgery conclusion. Not everything is fixed with a pill and surgery, and many times it does not work or causes more problems than it fixes.
    This is a great site, btw. 🙂

  15. thomas moore on March 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    i have a 15 year old jack russel male , dog who has started limping so i took him to the vets the vet said it was his ruptured ligerment and that it would be kinder if i had the dog put to sleep becouse he has a heart mermer and would more than likely not pull through an opperation on the back leg and the other leg would more than likely go the same way before the other leg healed ,. can you please advise me what i should do ive to come up with a decision by 17 /3 2016 would i be doing the right thing putting jack to sleep please answer,

  16. Joanne Keenan on January 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I thought you might be interested in my experiment with CCL and my JRT/border collie Jack (and a protocol that includes chia seeds!). He is almost 10 and has been with me for 4.5 years. Prior to joining me, he was vaccinated annually and fed the worst kibble on the planet. Now he is raw fed and hasn’t been vaccinated since he joined me. The only consistency is his high energy level and his love of chasing balls, squirrels….. anything, really.
    For almost a year, he has been favouring his rear leg. Last June it was confirmed that he had cruciate ligament damage in that leg. I opted to practice R&R (almost impossible for a JRT) and your homeopathic protocol, as well as give anti-inflammatories like turmeric. I was fairly consistent through to Oct/Nov but nothing seemed to make a noticeable difference. He was now carrying his rear leg more than he was walking on it, especially after resting.
    Last fall, I tried to get an appt at a  canine centre that does physio and offers non-invasive treatments — but a referral was not forthcoming from my vet – other than a grocery list of pain killers!
    Through my work with Dogs Naturally and your newsletters, I learned about MANGANESE. So since Oct/Nov — about 2-3 months — I’ve been adding ground flax and CHIA SEEDS to the dinners of both dogs. As well, for a good 2+ months I’ve been making bone broth which they get 5-7 times a week. And I’ve tired harder to taper Jack’s exercise.
    AND THE RESULT – drum roll please:  Almost three months later — NO CARRYING OF THE LEG. NO LIMPING!!!  I can’t say definitively which was helping more — bone broth or flax/chia or slowing him down — but there is nothing else that’s any different. Pretty cool, huh? I feel that by supporting joint health, it’s helped immensely. I think our days of going to the park and chasing balls from the chuck-it are over but at least he still has his yard to run in, long walks and indoor play. 
    Bone broth isn’t the most appetizing thing to me, but I am using it in my soups so it is hidden. I was using it in soups for my mom (at 86 she has arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, low kidney function, overall weakness) but now that the doctor has her on insulin — Grrrrr — problem solved! — so she doesn’t need to watch her diet!  That’s a topic for another day!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 18, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Hey, that is cool, Joanne, and I agree, a bit hard to pin down the prize winner that helped. Bone broth certainly would “feed connective tissue,” being a similar substance from Nature. And the manganese: probably in the broth as well as the seeds, no?
      Oh, your poor mom. Might want to read up on the boron from last week’s newsletter. Arthritis, as well as osteoporosis (which I always assume in older women, as it’s so common) sound pretty likely to be helped.
      The (usually) good news with CCL in small dogs like Jack is that they are light enough to (again, usually) heal by running around on 3 legs. Very different story for the massive guys. Sounds like he needed your nourishing protocol more than he needed R/R.
      Hats off to his smart Mama!

  17. HEATHER on November 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I have a 90 pound American Pit Bull Terrier. He is now almost 16 months old. He has been showing signs of CLD since he was about 10 months old. It is in both back legs as he intermittently limps from one to the other. I really don’t have the money to do TPLO surgery. I think he would need it for both legs if I went that route. Additionally, he is very wild and I think the surgery would be a waste of money and just be putting him through something that eventually would not have a good turn out. What do you recommend I do for him? Also, do the Glucosamine supplements really have any effect? Most literature that I have read show no actual evidence to support them.

  18. Renee on July 9, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I am really fascinated by this article. In October our 6 year old mastiff tore both her ACL ligaments. We went through the surgery and recovery and things were going wonderful. We woke up one day early May and she as lethargic with pale gums. The next day after seeing a specialist she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. We had her hospitalize and were attempting to treat it when she developed blood clots and diabetes. We had to make the incredibly painful decision to put her to sleep. The vet said mosquito/tick bites could have jumped started the disease. We never treated her with preventative products but now I feel terrified something would happen to our other dogs and I am choosing to do preventive measures on them.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 10, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Hi Renee,
      Oh, what a great loss for you. I’m so sorry.
      Going through this dog’s story, I would take exception to what Dr. WhiteCoat told you. Much more likely than mosquito bites (he really said this??) or ticks would be the two best known “immune confusers” in conventional “prevention:”
      1. Vaccinations (commonly within a month of a disaster in health)
      2. Heartworm drugs. Especially Trifexis.
      I’d be interested to hear if there was history of either of these risky procedures in the month prior. It may help your decision process for future animal raising.

  19. Connie on June 2, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I just read about and ordered the protocol recommended in Dogs Naturally Magazine for ligament tears. I already have her on natural joint supplements and have discontinued her Rimadyl. I am working on gettting her weight down, but that’s not easy with her not being able to exercise. I don’t want to subject her to surgery.
    I am so glad I found your site.

  20. RaNaye on April 25, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    My dog is 9 years old and we thought he had hip dysplasia as he is Black lab/German Shepard/Mastiff mix so he is tall and over 100 lbs. This winter though it became clear that something was really wrong and so I was massaging down his back like before and decided to check the leg he is favoring, like before, only this time I found a rather large bulge on the inside of his joint. I worked with “Helping Hands for Pets” as I did not have the dollars to take him to a vet for something as expensive as this. Not only did they authorize enough to handle x-rays, they referred me to a vet that was different then my usual vet as they thought this vet would be better equipped to handle this particular injury. It turned out to be a veterinary that was also a homeopath. She was the first vet I had ever met that didn’t try to sell me on the “worst case scenario” and tell me surgery was the only way or I was a horrible dog owner. In fact, she suggested that surgery would NOT be the best route for him. She said he had torn ALL ligaments and tendons around his knee joint and that is we could keep him from jumping or running, the scar tissue would form and hold it all together. She prescribed a pain medication for him which we ended up going down to half the initial dose and found that to be effective. She had told us to do that, also telling us what to watch for. She also gave me the name of a Chinese Herbal remedy along with a homeopathic remedy to give him for 6 weeks and of course the glucosimine and msm and chondroitin. She didn’t take x-rays as it was obvious to her by the exam which I also found refreshing. This is they type of vet I have been looking for but hadn’t found in our area and she respected my decision on titer checking instead of another rabies vaccine. I have had vets get downright hostile when I do that so I was thrilled. Needless to say, I have kept her business card and will probably be going there again at some point. My dog is doing much better. We could not keep him down for 6 weeks and she did say walking short walks was okay but no jumping or running until after 6 weeks. Finally the snow has melted and we can close him in the back yard at night and take him on walks and he seems to be doing just fine!

  21. Ava on April 8, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Hello, My 9 year old golden retriever recently had a complete tear of her CCL (right hind leg) and has been recommended TPLO surgery. Being a complete tear, what are the chances of it healing using homeopathy and without surgery? Thanks, Ava

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      The chances are excellent. Dogs Naturally Magazine is gearing up to give away my protocol for this. Keep an eye on their pages.
      And don’t feel this is in any way a fire engine emergency. Just let her rest as needed or limp along for a while. Here’s a page that’ll help you relax and think more about how surgery is oversold and under delivering on a regular basis:

      • Matt on April 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm

        At around the time this was going on I had email contact with Mr. Tiggerpoz. He has nothing but anecdotal evidence to back up his theories.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on April 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm

          That’s certainly not what I read. Did you miss the JAVMA research showing close to a 90% failure of the latest surgery to result in a sound leg? I’d take another look. The anecdotal evidence is coming from the surgeons, who have a vested interest in selling you an expensive surgery.

          • Matt on April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

            I will look at that but while i truly believe and already do that many of the issues that can cause CCL,s to fail are valid What I’m not understanding is the mechanism that heals a torn CCL with out surgery. in your article you made reference to a human tearing their ACL. What athlete would not have surgery on that. Even though a dogs “knee” and a humans is completely different a torn ligament does not heal. How does the stifle become stable again.

          • Will Falconer, DVM on April 10, 2014 at 10:16 am

            Nature has a greater intelligence than you give her credit for Matt. The “how” is in her hands. The fact that it happens in many, many animals makes me certain it can happen in any football player just as well. We are really not all that different.

          • Matt on April 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm

            Also unfortunately any one selling you some thing they make money off of you must be wary of. from pharmaceutical companies to dog food to your local used car sales person it is the way our society operates.

        • TinaT on July 30, 2018 at 10:22 pm

          Here’s a link to outline how ligaments ‘heal’ without surgery:

          Scar tissue replaces the ligament for stabilization. It might not be as flexible and responsive as the original tissue, but it gets the job done.

          I’ve talked to humans with bad knees… the ligament replacement surgeries are complex and not always successful… and that’s on a human that KNOWS they need to stay off the knee (i.e. on crutches) to complete the surgical rehab. You mention athletes getting surgery – sure, if their life depends on their athleticism. For “normal” people, R&R (on crutches) is what gets the knee back in working order. And many people shift from jogging to bike rides due to knee issues.

      • inger gaar on September 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

        Dear Dr Will
        My border collie / lab mix was diagnosis w ALC rupture yesterday
        And I want to try your protol ?
        How can can do this
        Happy to pay for the homepathy course – which I have looked at and wanted to study anyways
        Spent hours researching options and surgery and drugs doesn’t
        Seem all to disturbing to me
        Hailey is feed a raw food diet, never had any vaccines since she way adopted at 8 month by me, prior to of course – a lot
        She take lots of holistically supplements and she is now of liquid biocell I use essential oils, cold laser etc
        How can I can a hold of your specific recommendation regarding
        Homeopathic protocol?
        I am more than happy to pay for your time, however my understanding is that you do not take any appointment ?
        I m such a fan of your work
        Inger Gaar
        Monterey CA

        • inger gaar on September 9, 2015 at 11:12 am

          Sorry about all the spelling errors
          Didn’t spell check before I hit the post button

  22. Matt on April 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I have some experience with a dog with CCL injuries and I read this article with great interest. With out going into all my thoughts just a few. One of my dogs a soon to be 10 male Aussie frisbee competition dog. i don’t consider my self holistic but 8 years raw food virtually no vaccines past the initial ones. No heart worm meds, very few tick meds. no flea meds. At about 4 his first CCL went I did a lot of research into the matter with the goal that he would play frisbee again (he lives for it). I had correspondence with Dr. James Cook ( university of Missouri ) in regard to surgery he gave me vets in my area that used his tight rope procedure. I spoke to numerous vets and I can tell you they all said this is most likely not injury related. In the end I found an excellent vet who performed an extra-capsular suture stabilization. at a cost of under $2000. He was never in a crate he wore a soft cast for 3 weeks started leash walks after gradually getting longer then periods off leash at 4 months he started playing with a ball then frisbee. 5 months he was playing again as he had. I realize this was a best case scenario i felt lucky. Not quite 2 years later the other one went if I had read your article after the first one maybe I could have prevented the second. I didn’t hesitate he went for the surgery in slightly less time he was back to playing again. I don’t believe this would have been possible with out surgery. Some times after a good work out when he gets up later you can see he’s a little sore but at his age I feel that’s to be expected. I have two questions. With out surgery what mechanism would have made his stifle stable enough to play frisbee again and mainly what can I do for him now to help with this he does get cosaquin every day since the first one went.

  23. Lynn on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Hi, I used to do everything my vet told me to do, good kibble, cooked bones because of bacteria, vaccinations, heart worm preventative, flea and tick poison. My Golden Winnie blew her ccl and had the tplo, next year other knee, a few years later she died of cancer at 9 and a half years old! Heartbroken and I decided I was doing something wrong and started researching. My dogs are rescues so they have had shots but now are on raw, get titers etc thru Dr Dodds. I clean my home with organic cleaner. I have just purchased a Papillon boy intact and un vaccinated. He will be my new agility dog when my older one wants to quit. He is the first dog I have purchased in 36 years! I hope he will benefit from my education and passion to do what is right for him and ignore the mainstream.

  24. Nina on April 4, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Wow, this is a side of cranial cruciate ligament ruptures that is not often talked about. Sadly, the “man-made preventions” are things that are given very little consideration because they are so commonplace. After reading this, I am alarmed I never considered it myself! I went the brace-route via woundwear when my dog had this injury. I still feel good about my decision, knowing that he didn’t have to be sedated and given heavy pain killers after the surgery. I got a lot of heat for not putting my dog through surgery and this article has given me even more food-for-thought.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Nina, and welcome to the natural path comments. I’m glad you had a good outcome for your dog, and glad I got you thinking about prevention (and the inherent risks involved in the conventional medical model of that).

  25. Monique on March 31, 2014 at 9:13 am

    My Siberian Husky tore his cruciate ligament on the left knee, going on three years ago now. This was before I seriously started looking into homeopathic meds and treatments and so I went to my trusted vet, who has been treating my dogs for 10 years. I had read up about the possible operations to “fix” a cruciate before I went in, but my vet uses a completely different method. I forget what it’s called, but he basically ‘made’ a new ligament using sinew that he took from my dog’s thigh. No fake anything in that knee. What he reattached in surgery was live tissue. It was an incredibly painful operation, and costly and not something I would ever want to put my boy through again. I immediately retired him from the working dog exercises we participate in (he was never that keen anyway). Getting back on four legs completely still took about 5 months but three years down the line the knee has made a full recovery and is still holding. I’ve not had any problems with the other knee and he zooms about the yard and jumps around for food with no problems. So that’s my cruciate story in a nutshell. I am however now using alternative homeopathic treatments for my dogs, for everything, as much as possible.
    Conversely, I have a friend whose dog also snapped a cruciate, had the very expensive and painful TPLO surgery and a year down the line, THAT had to be redone and at the same time they discovered that, the other knee also went. Poor dog was lame in both back legs and she had to fork out another lot of money to repair the second knee.
    Thank you Dr Falconer for sharing your knowledge with us and helping us to better the lives of our furry friends. I have learned so much already!

    • kathi richards on April 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Monique, the procedure that was done on your husky is what was done on our chow mix almost 15 years ago. She was 11 at that time. We were off leash walking when it happened. She saw a rabbit cross the dirt road and went after it. When she came back she was limping though still putting weight on her leg. I thought that maybe she had just sprained her leg. I waited for a month and when it didn’t get better I took her in to our vet at that time. He was great with her and me. Explained what had happened and showed me the knee moving from side to side. Not supposed to do that. He also said that chows have more of a vertical knee than other dogs. It was a $600 fix and it did seem to fix her. She was walking on it the next day to the doctor’s surprise. She recovered well, and quickly. It was years later, about 4 that she finally passed from cancer. Had I known then what I know now I would have had her treated much differently.

  26. Michelle on March 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Have you dealt with much Auto-immune diseases? I have a female pomeranian 2 years old , cared for by a holistic vet . … only 1st puppy shots .. no rabies or anything else … feed raw and have worked my hardest on trying to be healthy (still have a lot to learn)… and last fall there was a progression of events that happened .. ie bladder infection that got worse and worse .. didnt respond to homeopathic remedies nore antibiotic prescribed etc. .. but ended up in white coat emergency because she started doing a neurological twitch (homeopath wasnt available) .. scared me to death .. they sent me to neurospecialist — who did mri and spinal tap (she had brain swelling and some swelling in neck) .. tested her for approx 4 common possible diseases to cause these type of symptoms all came back as negative .. so they just clumped her into the “autoimmune disease” category.. holist vet not experienced in this …. white coat neuro is convinced this is what it is … ME in my gut I think she caught some bacteria from Dog shows I took her too (I show dogs for a hobby)…. Been on prednisone by the white coat neuro since thanksgiving .. down to .25ml every other day.. but it makes me sick to my stomach … I wish I could find someone that has experienced this and would know what to look at and do to “cure” her … all they did was cover it up/ surpress and I am afraid it might flare back up again and then we will repeat white coat treatment … ;0(

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Michelle,
      To an experienced homeopath, there are no disease labels (like “autoimmune”), there are only sick patients expressing their symptoms in unique ways. When we see those ways clearly, we find the remedies they need along the path to cure.
      Challenging work, but cure is possible with homeopathy. Right now, it’s not, as you rightly surmise. Pred is only suppressing while her disease grows slowly but surely.
      You need a professional on board who does homeopathy mostly or only. My Resources page has a link, and my Contact page will tell you how I work and charge.
      Best of luck with your little girl.

      • Michelle on March 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm

        Thank you !!

  27. Ann on March 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    A year ago my black lab and I came home from the park where we played our tennis ball game (of which a lab never tires) . Only after entering the house did I notice she was limping. Her limping progressed throughout the evening. We took her to the next morning. The vet recommended TPLO surgery and referred us to a specialist. The specialist would x-ray and then consult . The surgery would be immediate . We were so sad and upset as this surgery is vile and expensive with a long re-hab. She would have been kenneled post surgery for a very long time and allowed out ONLY to go the bathroom. This ,followed by physical therapy and or water treatments. I shudder to think of the cost but I shudder to think of the awful and grueling procedure that she would have undergone. It just didn’t seem right to us. So we began extensive research and found a man on line who does NOTHING but help people , such as us, who are in this same situation. His name is Max Tiggerpaw. He advised us and coached us and we indeed opted out of the surgery. Our lab is healthy and beautiful. She shows no weaknesses at all. We put her on a raw diet and we do give her joint supplements daily. We rested her for many months which is not easy with an active lab who is only 2. That is all we did. She is wonderful and such a joy. Thank you for your articles as well. PEOPLE need to know the truth . Thank you.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks, Ann. Chalk another one up to nature doing the healing. Glad to hear of such a nice outcome.

    • Sheri Brooks on May 9, 2018 at 12:21 am

      I have a 56 lbs Boxer girl and I was wondering what kind of raw diet you are making for your fur baby

    • Ryan on February 20, 2020 at 4:46 am

      Hi Ann can you update me how things went after your post? I’m worried my 55 lb GSD husky mix might need surgery after limping a couple nights in a row. Vet gave us metacam and told us no quick movements for a few days and hopefully it was just a strain. You can contact me there

  28. Jackie on March 24, 2014 at 9:24 am

    My 14-15 year old Rottie mix female tore her knee ligament two years ago this coming June. She has been amazingly healthy raw feed canine but early on in her life , she was a rescue, probably not a stellar diet. And of course there’s the vaccines that she has NOT had over the last two years. Never again will she ever receive further vaccines nor heartworm or flea and tick chemicals. All that being said, I took the conservative maintenance route concerning her knee rather than opting for the surgery. I was nervous about her recovery, but chose to go with my gut telling me to seek out homeopathy, cool laser and continuing her raw diet utilizing supplements (she had already been on transfer factor, probiotics, and liquid glucosamine but I added green lipped muscle powder, Herbsmith herbal Sooth Joint and Standard Process Ligaplex II. Also to keep her comfortable, I went with Herbsmith Comfort Aches. Furthermore I did not crate her because she is not an over active pup and since she has never been crated would have added to her stress level. Waiting and watching for bits of improvement during the first 6 months of conservative treatment was tough because I wanted it to happen more quickly. In conclusion, today this senior girl walks and runs without a limp. She quite often gets the zoomies, where she runs in circles tucking her back end under making tight little turns in play. I am sooooo glad I stuck it out against traditional surgery mindset as she has recovered so amazingly well to being a vital animal. The amazing body truly has the ability within to recover from many injuries if supported in natural ways. Yea! Thanks Dr. Falconer for your wonderful website and “drawing outside the lines of Dr. Whitecoat” holistic veterinary work. You have opened my mind to understanding that has allowed my sweet girl to live a health happy life which has prompted me to tell this story for what it is worth.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 24, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Dear Jackie,
      An amazing story! So inspiring, isn’t it? I mean, she’s already outlived the majority of her breed from all your efforts, and she can zoom around joyfully and sound.

    • Megan Smith on February 18, 2016 at 9:45 am

      What’s your regiment of the supplements, how much do you give your dog. My 33lb terrier mix has the cruciate tear, which seemed to be healing well, but is now acting up a lot. I’m not sure if it’s the winter months?? Any help would be appreciated. She also has SLO, an autoimmune disease that effects the nails, so she’s on a high dose of fish oil, biotin, and niacidimide as well as glucosime supplements, MSM powder here and there and bone broth, which I just made recently. Would love any help or feedback!

  29. claire langford on March 24, 2014 at 5:34 am

    my mastiff had surgery for this it was very expensive and despite all her care after the op it didn’t work she still limps badly and the only way I can keep any muscle on that leg is by taking her swimming 🙁

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Hi Claire,
      A sad outcome, but here’s the silver lining: a good vet homeopath can likely get her sound. See my Resources page for a listing. It’s not over by any means.

  30. Linda Slabenak on March 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you Dr.Will

    • peggy on October 20, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Thank you for your info, yes my 9yr old cocker spaniel 25lbs. had just been diagnosed!! yes the vet recommends surgery?? I cant see it, age and the fact his right leg will go too is not helping.

      • Will Falconer, DVM on October 20, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        Hey Peggy,
        Some acute homeopathy and some “tincture of time” should get this guy back to fully functional. Less easy if he was a 180 lb giant breed, but a Cocker will do just fine on three legs for as long as it takes to heal.
        Time is on your side.

        • peggy on October 20, 2015 at 8:07 pm

          OMG thank you for the hope my boy will be ok!!

      • cindy on October 26, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        Peggy how is your baby doing? Do you have him on a good joint medicine? My 7 lb chihuahua was diagnosed with an acl tear on 9/20 just 5 weeks ago my vet said to try the
        conservative management and if she showed any improvement in a few weeks then she will probably do OK as long as there’s no jumping running or doing stairs. I still only take her out on a leash for short potty breaks. I think it takes several months to build up the scar tissue that Will finally stabilize the joint. She’s walking on the leg but still not putting all the weight on it yet. But she is putting some weight on it now, which she wasn’t doing at first.

        • Shelley on February 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

          Hi Cindy, how did your dog recover? I am currently in week 4 of rest with my dog and unsure of what the outcome will be.

    • Joy Metcalf on January 31, 2021 at 9:04 pm

      Many years ago I had a Terrier/Shepherd cross who ruptured one knee ligameht after a game of “tug and spin”. When she landed, she let out a yelp and couldn’t walk on that leg. A couple days later, the vet recommended surgery. It was, as I recall, about $600 or $700, but this was about 40 years ago and a real strain on my budget. Two weeks after she had recovered, a slow process, the other knee went, and we had to repeat the whole process.

      At that time, I didn’t know anything about homeopathy. If it happened now, surgery would definitely not be my first and only option.

    • Michaela on February 3, 2021 at 12:00 am

      Thanks for the great article. I struggled with this issue . . .
      My Giant Schnauzer / Golden Retriever, Heather, as a 6 month old puppy, sustained a cruciate injury. (She lives on a 20 acre farm with other canine friends.)
      After multiple opinions, I opted for acupuncture, laser therapy, nutrition and multiple braces (none of which lasted more than a day). Heather is now 6 years old prances with a gentle rear ‘swing’ and runs every chance she gets.
      The canine crowd here all grew up on raw food, no vaccines, fresh water, fresh greens (their choice) from the gardens, lots of running room and love.