Dr. Lima performing an ACL

In addition, Carleton Veterinary Services ensures that your pet is provided with the Ottawa region’s most comprehensive post-surgical and canine rehabilitation care. Our clinic completes numerous canine CCL surgeries a year. Our post-surgical CCL patients continue to come to us for their treadmill and phototherapy sessions, they are referred to a fully licensed and registered physiotherapist in Kemptville which provides full canine rehabilitative services.

Other orthopedic surgeries we provide are:

  • Fracture/Fixation Repair
  • Luxating Patella
  • Amputation

Why are cruciate ligament injuries in dogs so common?

Like humans, a dog may experience severe pressure on its knee joint when it engages in physical activity such as running or jumping. If your dog experiences a sudden twist while engaging in this activity it can cause partial or complete rupture of the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (commonly known as “CCL” this is the ACL ligament in humans) which results in severe pain and lameness.

Dogs that have unfortunately been involved in a car accident may also have injury to its CCL. The extreme twisting of the leg or pressure on the knee joint may result in a rupture of the cruciate ligament.

The conformation of some dogs can predispose them to wearing of their CCL over time. This means that it is weakened and may not take a large impact to rupture.

Cranial Cruciate Ligaments are fibrous tissues which form bands in the knee. CCLs in dogs are responsible for preventing the tibia and femur ends from moving across each other in a to and fro motion.

CCL Surgery on your dog may be recommended if your dog is in pain or does not have support in its knee joint.

What can be done?

Our canine cruciate ligament repair first begins with an Orthopedic consultation with Dr. Lima. The purpose of this examination is to determine the dog’s knee motion and to meet with the pet owner. At Carleton Veterinary Services and Lanark Veterinary Clinic, it is our priority to ensure that pet owners fully understand all options available and the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.

If surgical correction is needed for the CCL injury, Dr. Lima discusses various techniques available. We use an Extra Articular Method as it is less invasive and has a great success rate. Owners are always informed during their consultation of what will happen before, during and post-surgery. A discussion on post-operative care includes information for pet owners regarding at home rehab for owners to do with their pets, to more in-depth rehabilitation services.

Owners are always sent home with the articles about CCL injuries and care to help owners make informed and educated decisions about their dog’s healthcare.

What to Expect Pre- and Post-ACL Surgery

Veterinary orthopaedicsHere’s a quick guide to help owners better understand what to expect when they bring their dog in for CCL surgery.


Generally, we ask that patients arrive at the clinic between 8 and 8:30 a.m. No food or water can be given to your pet after midnight the night before.

A surgical technician will greet you and your pet and answer any last-minute questions or concerns as well as ask you to confirm fasting, medications and any unusual behaviours you may have noticed your pet doing. Patient is then taken to our surgical pre-operative room. A small amount of blood is collected and analyzed. Pre-operative blood is very important as it allows us to ensure your pet is able to metabolize the anesthetic medications and that your pet is healthy enough to undergo surgery. If the bloodwork shows abnormalities the surgery will be postponed until the veterinarian can determine why the bloodwork is abnormal. This is because there are many times our pets are fighting an infection or disease and do not show any signs or symptoms. Undergoing such an invasive surgery while their system is going through another medical issue can be extremely dangerous.

An intravenous catheter will be placed in a front leg of the patient. Having IV access throughout surgery is highly important, in the case of a medical emergency, IV access can save a patient’s life. The patient will also be given pain medication, antibiotics and IV fluids through the catheter. Warmed IV fluids help to maintain blood pressure, hydration, body temperature, provide a medium for us to balance electrolytes if needed, and flush the anesthetic medication out of their system for a faster recovery.

The surgical leg is shaved, and induction takes place. Local anesthesia is used in the knee joint to further reduce pain felt during and after surgery. Afterward the patient is moved from pre-op into our surgical suite. The preparation for this surgery takes between 1-2 hours.


Annie and HL ACL SurgeryThe patient is maintained on oxygen and inhalant gas throughout surgery. Optimal body temperature is maintained with a warm air heating unit on the surgical table. The patient is hooked up to monitoring equipment which a surgical technician then monitors and fills out our strict and thorough monitoring sheet to maintain vitals. Surgical technicians are constantly using their skills to monitor the patient, they are trained to recognize any abnormalities or distress in the patient while they are under anesthetic. If any concerns arise the surgical technician communicates directly with the surgical veterinarian and action is taken if needed. The limb is surgically prepped by a second surgical technician and the veterinarian, after sterilizing their hands and scrubbing into surgical gear, begins the procedure. If needed, the veterinarian may request the second surgical technician to sterilize and scrub into surgical gear as well to assist with leg support or leg position for the veterinarian to properly correct the CCL. This is normal and ensures that the surgery will be a success.

This surgery takes anywhere between 1-2 hours. In some patient cases, surgery is needed on both of the patient’s knees in their hind legs. If this occurs, surgery time is then between 2-3 hours.


Patients remain in our hospital for two days post operation. During those two days of care, our staff monitors your pet to manage pain and ensure there are no infections. We will also begin some clinic rehabilitation along with icing and phototherapy on the affected area to decrease swelling and promote faster healing. For more information on how phototherapy helps our patients please visit our Underwater and Phototherapy page.

After these two days, the patient is returned home with home rehabilitation exercises, antibiotics and pain management medication. The owner returns with their pet after two weeks for a check-up with their surgeon. The rehabilitation program begins after this appointment with up to 12 scheduled rehab appointments in Kemptville at the Canine Rehabilitation Centre. Our CCL package also comprises of twelve canine underwater treadmill treatments and four to six canine phototherapy therapy treatments which we do on site at our clinics. In this time, our veterinarians also have up to 4 recheck appointments with the patient to make sure there are no concerns or issues.

After the CCL Rehab is completed, your dog will have one final post-rehab visit with the surgeon. After this appointment the surgeon will then give the patient a passing grade and official discharge from the CCL recovery process.

The general timeframe for a complete CCL surgical and rehabilitation program is 12 weeks, but we always inform the owners that, similar to if we needed knee surgery, proper monitoring and precautionary steps should be made to make sure that the knee(s) is not reinjured.