Petplan's most common claim during the month of January in 2016 was anterior cruciate disease in dogs. I often explain this injury to owners by mentioning similar injuries to athletes which they are familiar with.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are commonly seen in middle-aged to older large breed dogs although they can occur in any breed. A veterinary surgeon once told me that a hindlimb lameness in a middle-aged to older dog is a torn cruciate until proven otherwise. The ligament weakens with age due to degenerative changes making it more susceptible to injury. Young dogs can also be affected. Cruciate injuries are uncommon in cats.
Many large breed dogs are also prone to hip dysplasia and it's not uncommon to have both problems at the same time. I once referred a dog to an orthopedic specialist for evaluation of a lameness I thought was due to hip dysplasia. He called me back and said it was cruciate disease that was causing the lameness and gave me the following tip. Dogs with hip dysplasia are able to sit squarely whereas dogs with cruciate disease sit with the affected limb extended outwardly. The most common symptom is a sudden "toe-touching" lameness in one of a dog's hindlimbs. Watch this video of a lameness typical of anterior cruciate rupture. Also, notice how the dog gingerly sits and lays down with the affected knee extended outward.
Although some dogs respond to conservative management - rest, anti-inflammatory/pain medications, and physical therapy, many dogs will need surgery to have the best long-term outcome.
Surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament rupture in the knee of the dog is the most common orthopedic procedure performed in veterinary medicine. The average fee for the procedure is close to what is highlighted in the table above. There are several possible procedures that can be done to stabilize the knee and the cost varies depending on which procedure is performed. A good overview of the various treatments can be found here.
Pet insurance coverage for this condition varies company to company. It is one of the conditions that fits the "bilateral condition" clause in many policies. This states that if a dog has a cruciate injury in one knee prior to purchasing a policy, cruciate tears in the opposite knee won't be covered even if it occurs after you purchase a policy. This is because dogs that have a torn cruciate ligament in one knee commonly have the same problem occur in the other knee within 6-18 months. Some companies will cover it after a 6 or 12 month waiting period. How a company covers cruciate injuries is usually distinctly stated in their policy.