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How Long Does it Take for a Torn Dog ACL Tear to Heal Without Surgery?

Derrick Campana

You never want to see your pet suffering. This is why it's so difficult when they have a torn dog ACL and you're not sure how to help. Is surgery the only option for healing? We'll look further into this question in this blog.

Table of Contents

  • Do Dogs Have an ACL?
  • Will a Torn Dog ACL Tear to Heal Without Surgery?
  • Alternatives to Surgery
  • Knee Brace for a Torn ACL/CCL

Do Dogs Have an ACL?

Technically, no. There is no anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in dogs. The ACL is a thin connective tissue in the middle of human knees. Dogs have something similar, though. The connective tissue in dogs is instead known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). It connects their bone below the knee (tibia) to their bone above the knee (femur).

It is important to point out that the CCL is always considered "load-bearing" because dogs never unbend their knees while standing. It is subject to greater wear and tear than the average human's ACL for this reason. A dog's CCL naturally has to withhold greater stress, and is sometimes injured.

Certain breeds are more prone to these injuries, including Labrador retrievers, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers.

Will a Torn Dog ACL Tear to Heal Without Surgery?


You can still call the dog's CCL an ACL if it is easier for you to remember, and your vet will still know what you mean. When discussing the injury with your vet, you should ask whether or not surgery is right for your furry friend. There are a number of different repairing surgeries that may help your dog based on dog breed, age, and size.  

An Alternative to Surgery

Without surgery, the lameness caused by a partially torn or ruptured ACL will improve or go away completely in many dogs, especially small ones. You can expect this to happen within three to six weeks. That doesn't mean sit around and let your dog suffer for a month and a half. They still need special care from you.

Surgery isn't the only option for healing, and it isn't right for every situation. There are a number of effective treatments available for a pet with a torn dog ACL. Your vet will take your dog's lifestyle and energy level into consideration, plus your dog's weight, age, and size.

Knee Brace for a Torn ACL/CCL


One we encourage you to pay special attention to is a knee brace. Treating a torn dog ACL with a knee brace is a non-surgical option that will help to stabilize the knee joint. It will also give the ligament time to scar over and repair itself. 

In order to be effective, a knee brace (also called a stifle brace) should be sized to fit your dog exactly. In addition to wearing the knee brace, your dog should have dramatically reduced activity levels. 

Bionic Pets is always here to help your dog in any way we can. That's our mission! If you have any additional questions, like if your dog is a candidate for a knee brace, reach out and ask us.