Thank you for your question. Anterior cruciate ligament disease or rupture is a common cause of hindlimb lameness in the dog, usually due to ongoing degeneration of the ligament with age.
There are alternatives to surgery, however they are usually more effective in small dogs less than 15kg. What does your dog weigh?
The alternatives to surgery are strict rest and restricted exercise for a period of 6-8 weeks, for example by confining your dog to a dog cage or one small room where it is not able to climb up onto furniture. The dog should be taken outside to the toilet on a lead only, and should not be allowed to run around or climb any stairs. After 6-8 weeks of rest, you can gradually re-introduce small amounts of controlled exercise whilst on the lead.
Your dog would also need some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, which will give good pain relief. This will be available on prescription from your vet, and it is usually given for at least 6-8 weeks during the rest period.
Around 85% of small dogs less than 15kg will have a good outcome with these alternatives to surgery, however they may have a quicker recovery if surgery is carried out.
An advantage of surgery is that a quicker recovery may be possible. Also, it is common for dogs with ruptured cruciate ligaments to also have damage to another part of their knee joint known as the 'menisci' - surgery allows the vet to also inspect the menisci for any damage, and to repair it if necessary.
Hope this helps and best wishes,
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