Caring for a Dalmatian with an ACL Injury

Dalmatians, like any dog breed, have certain illnesses, health issue and diseases that they’re more prone to. These health issues are why it’s so important…


Dalmatians, like any dog breed, have certain illnesses, health issue and diseases that they’re more prone to. These health issues are why it’s so important to make sure you learn about and understand your dog breed before you get a dog.

Although he may be a big baby, Roley (my current Dalmatian) seems to be made of strong stuff. With that said, recently all of the hyperactive running, jumping and bouncing around (and clumsily falling over) has caught up with him. Over the fast couple of weeks, Roley has been suffering with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. Due to his breed and his love for energetically bounding around, it was kind of inevitable that he would end up damaging or potentially rupturing his ACL. In fact, ACL ruptures are one of the most common diagnosis’ in dogs.

A torn ACL is, understandably, painful for your dog. Helplessly watching Roley go lame and be unable to put pressure on his rear leg without falling and screaming (yes, actually screaming and not just yelping) was heartbreaking. Although, you may feel helpless when your dog has an crucilate ligament injury, there are things you can do to help ease the pain, promote recovery and hopefully offset the likelihood of them needing surgery.

1. Buy a good quality dog bed (Such as Bunty)

Bunty Pet Products kindly gifted me a product of my choosing. With Roley having just been diagnosed with an ACL injury, it came at the perfect time to choose a new dog bed for him.


Although his current dog bed was only a few months old, it wasn’t necessarily the highest quality dog bed which led me to worry that it may be contributing to his discomfort. After scrolling through the wide variety of dog beds on Bunty, I eventually chose the Anchor dog bed. Calllum’s family have the Anchor dog bed for their pug so they were able to attest for it’s quality, reinforcing my belief that I’d made the right choice.

With an ACL injury, it’s important that your dog has a comfortable space where they can go to rest and recover. As they won’t be able to jump or stretch up onto high surfaces, it’s advisable to make sure the dog bed is low to the ground and easily accessible.

When the Anchor dog bed arrived, I was amazed at is quality. Whilst, I’d already seen the Anchor dog bed before at Callum’s family home, I hadn’t realised just how cushioned it was. It’s perfectly cosy for Roley’s leg, offering the perfect amount of comfort and support. The wipeable, durable and waterproof material also means it’s the most perfect dog bed for my boistorious monsters and if I ever brave taking them on an outdoors trip/ UK staycatian (which I would love to do!) then this will 100% be coming with us.

I’ve got to admit, the one benefit that’s come out of Roley hurting his cruciate ligament is that he no longer steals all the space on the sofa! Now, he lays happily by my feet in his dog bed. But of course, I would happily let him jump up on the sofa again if it meant he was injury-free!

2. Limit your dog’s exercise routine

Now, I’m going to be honest and say, limiting my Dalmatian’s exercise routine seriously worried me. Despite being 11 years old, he still has the energy levels of a puppy so I was concerned that putting him on rest would cause him to act destructive or boisterous as a result of having excess energy.


I was worried that having an ACL injury meant that my dog wouldn’t be able to go for walks anymore. Luckily, we haven’t had to stop his walks altogether. When we visited the vet to get some medication for his pain, they recommended giving him short, regular exercise. We noticed that Roley’s ACL flared up and caused him pain in two situations:

  1. If he hadn’t moved for a while
  2. If he had been too active and over-exerted himself

Since his Vet visit, we’ve only taken him on short evening walks on the lead. At first, it was just a 5-minute walk round the block to see how he got on. As his leg didn’t cause him any discomfort or show any signs of lameness, we increased the length of his walk the next night to 10-minutes. Over the next week we slowly increased the length of his walk every night up until we reached 30-minutes.

Being careful not to over-exert him or cause his ACL damage to worsen, we stick to an evening walk of 30-minutes or less. If he seems to be having a bad day, we’ll skip it and let him having an evening of rest instead. As much as he loves to be let off his lead so that he can sprint around, it isn’t something we’ve allowed him to do. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to mind too much!

3. Get medical treatment for your dog

Of course, before you try anything at home to alleviate your dog’s pain, you should seek medical advice from a vet. Your vet will be able to do a physical examination and checks to provide a a proper diagnosis.


When visiting our vet, Roley had a physical examination and we talked about his current daily routine and changes that could be made to ease his pain and reduce risk of further injury. She also gave him some medication to reduce inflamation and some glucosamine with MSM for joint care.

We’re also booked in for blood tests to ensure the tablets aren’t having any detrimental effects. After all, as a Dalmatian, he is prone to stomach sensitivity. If his condition worsens, we’ll likely go for x-rays and will have to consider surgery as an option. Surgery can be expensive so it’s really important that you have pet insurance that will help towards the costs or ensure you are able to cover the costs yourself.

4. Stock up on supplies for mental stimulation

There are many supplies that we need for our pets at the best of times. Bedding, food, toys, and health care supplies are just a few that spring to mind. But when your dog has an ACL injury, the type of pet supplies you need may change slightly!

You are going to need to increase the amount of mental stimulation they are receiving at the very least, especially as they will be getting a lot less physical exercise. If you own, or have owned, a dalmatian then you’ll know that they are very, very, energetic dogs!

There are plenty of options to choose from at Time for Paws from toys, to puzzle, treats to hygiene products which will be delivered to your door, saving you time spent away from your poorly dog. Making sure that you’re doing your best for your dog can feel difficult, but keeping them as active as possible and keeping on top of their pain management is going to help them recover.

Final thoughts on caring for a dog with an ACL injury

There are other steps you can take to further help your pet with recovery so make sure you do your research and always get an opinion from a Vet that you trust.

If your dog has issues with their weight, you should consider putting them on a better diet to help with weight-loss. As their exercise will be limited, it’s important to reconsider their diet if you or your vet believes their weight could be contributing to their discomfort.

To help with excessive energy due to minimised exercise or to help with muscle strength and recovery, swimming is a great form of exercise and therapy. Find a nearby swimming pool that allows dogs and engage your dog in some dog swimming sessions to help them to keep their muscles toned and also stimulate them mentally.


Hopefully, we’ll see an improvement in Roley’s ACL and he won’t need surgery. Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on his progress, doing what we can to help with his recovery and having regular check-ups with the Vet to measure his progress and determine if surgery will be needed.

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