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How I Treated Our Dog's Partial Cruciate Tear

A few years ago I received an email from a fellow dog lover whose dog was diagnosed with a partial cruciate tear and I realized that I never updated my blog about Sydney’s condition.

Before you read further, please know that a partial cruciate tear is very serious and if you suspect that your dog has a tear, please contact your vet immediately.

What’s a Cruciate Tear?

“Cranial cruciate rupture is the tearing of the cranial cruciate ligament; it is the most common cause of rear-leg lameness in dogs and a major cause of degenerative joint disease (progressive and permanent deterioration of joint cartilage) in the stifle joint; rupture may be partial or complete.”  Source:

How Sydney’s Partial Cruciate Tear was Diagnosed?

Sydney had been limping pretty badly and didn’t want to put weight on her rear, left leg.  Our veterinarian did a physical exam with Sydney standing up (she wouldn’t lie down) where she tested her motion, watched her walk, and felt her knee area for movement.

Sydney was prescribed pain pills for a little under a month along with rest.

Because it wasn’t a full cruciate tear, surgery wasn’t recommended.

Diet and Exercise to Help Repair a Cruciate Tear in Dogs

We limited Sydney’s exercise, curbing her zoomies around the yard.  I walked with her (mommy and me time) while J played with Rodrigo, Scout, and Zoey.  This was the easy part because Sydney is like me, she’s a couch potato.

The diet part was harder and this is where I made one crucial mistake.  I did reduce the amount of food she was eating, but I did it by sight.  She was still eating too much for her decreased activity level and she gained 10 pounds over the year – that’s a lot for a dog.

J purchased a new digital scale that’s more accurate than the one I was using and I weigh all of our dogs’ meals.  This and light exercise is helping Sydney finally losing weight, however, she didn't keep it off.  My girl's sedentary ways kept bringing the weight back and I had to find a right balance of food to help her lose – I learned a lot about calories, fat, and fasting, which I will discuss below.

Supplements for a Partial Cruciate Tear in Dogs

The following supplements were added to Sydney’s diet per discussions with our nutritionist and they work to boost joint and bone health.

Diet and Exercise to Help with Weight Loss in Dogs

Ronny LeJeune, a professional dog trainer in Louisiana, helped her dog, Loki, heal from a cruciate tear and her dog is in amazing shape.  I mention Ronny because she's a good person to follow on social media to learn about dog training and canine body awareness.

I learned a lot from Ronny about helping my dogs stay in shape and to specifically help Sydney get back into shape.  Today, I follow the following regimen for Sydney:

Exercise Regimen for My Dog

WALKING:  Sydney and I walk twice a day at least 5 days a week allowing rest days for her muscles to repair and build.  I walk her for a short time in the morning and for longer (or two short walks) in the evening.

EXERCISE:  To keep Sydney's knee flexible, I do an indoor exercise to get her to put weight on both of her back legs.  She loves to be brushed and will use her back legs to scratch her sides.  Through grooming, I get her to do three sets of scratching on each side (hope that makes sense).

STRETCHING:  Sydney doesn't always stretch on her own so I stretch her legs, moving them in their normal range of motion, for a few minutes after a long walk.

Diet for My Dogs

DECREASE THE FAT: I made the mistake of switching Sydney to an all tripe diet; at the time, I didn't realize how high in fat tripe is and she gained weight.  Sydney still enjoys tripe, but it's part of a meal instead of an entire meal.  I also feed more lean proteins like rabbit and beef.

DECREASE THE SERVING AMOUNT: I decreased Sydney's meals by 40%.  I was worried about hunger pukes, but that hasn't been a problem because I make up half of the difference with fermented vegetables or thawed green beans.

INTRODUCE FASTING:  I now fast all of my dogs once a week.  On Friday night, they get a big meal, a few ounces more than I usually feed them, and they don't eat again until Saturday afternoon.  If my dogs are begging for food, which has happened once, so far, I give them a small meal of goats milk mixed with turkey broth from Answers Pet Food.

How Sydney is Doing Today

Sydney is doing great.  There was a time when she was more active and playful, and she was walking up to 2-3 miles, and she’s walking on all of her legs.  She had a setback, which sucked, so we're working our way back.  Today, she's back to her happy and playful self and she's walking up to 1 mile a day.

There was a time when she had regular appointments for chiropractic care and acupuncture, but that has decreased to quarterly and we've introduced Bowan therapy, a holistic technique that involves moving the muscles in a specific way, working on the soft connective tissue of the body. Bowen therapy treats musculoskeletal, sports injuries, and chronic conditions.

Sydney isn't a fan of going to the vet, but she loves how she feels after she leaves and when we get home, she sleeps for hours and then she's ready to take on the world.

I’m not a veterinarian so I can’t tell you that what I did will work for your dog.  This is what worked for me and I don’t believe that it’s a happy coincidence, but I have no scientific proof to offer either.    I do know that better nutrition leads to healthier dogs and natural supplements are better tolerated by dogs and humans.

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