If Your Dog Has A CCL Tear Or Suffers From Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) It May Be In Part To A Lack of Manganese In Your Pups Diet

Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) disease is an all-too-common problem in canine companions today. If you’ve known a dog with a CCL injury, you know how serious and debilitating it can be. Certain breeds are more prone to this disease.

Chesapeake Bay RetrieverRottweiler
Labrador RetrieverSaint Bernard
MastiffStaffordshire Terrier

Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands have an actual genetic mutation that can contribute to CCL disease

The are two main causes for CCL injuries

 1) extensive physical trauma (notable injuries), and 2) nutritional deficiency, which weakens the ligaments over time, predisposing the animal to rupture without notable trauma. Nutritional therapy is the best way to prevent a CCL injury, especially in genetically predisposed dogs.

So obviously injuries happen and common wisdom is that if one leg is injured the the second one will eventually have a tear but there may be away to help minimize or prevent CCL tears through diet and weight management.  It appears that low levels of Manganese may play a big role in CCL tears.

So what is Manganese and how does your dog get it

From Dr Becker see link for full article below

The Missing Ingredient: Manganese

I continued my research and came up with one recurring factor in connective tissue resiliency: dietary intake of manganese (Mn). Manganese is required for healthy, strong ligament development and maintenance. A dog’s manganese requirements are high. Food sources vary on the amount of manganese present.

Look at the difference between wild duck meat and domesticated duck meat as shown in this chart, developed by pet food formulator Steve Brown:

NutrientUnit/1000 KCalWild DuckDomesticated Duck

Unfortunately, I still have clients who don’t believe in following recipes when home-preparing food for their dogs. Most of these “prey model” feeders erroneously assume all the minerals are present somewhere in and amongst the variety of free-range, organic meat, bone and organ blends they feed their dogs.

But clearly, the number of non-traumatic CCL tears my veterinary orthopedic surgeon counterpart was repairing was telling a different story. Many of my clients who made their dogs’ meals at home were missing this critical mineral (among others) in their diets.

Manganese in the Canine Ancestral Diet

So where does manganese come from in the ancestral diet? Steve Brown also answered this question for me. Minute amounts come from meat, liver and bone, but not nearly enough to meet a dog’s daily requirements (and hence why so many dogs become manganese deficient). The richest source of manganese comes from the animal pieces and parts none of us feed, primarily hair, feathers and wool:

Where Manganese Is Found in the Bodies of Animals
Bone1.5 to 2 ppm
Liver1.4 to 2.5 ppm
Pancreas1.2 to 1.6 ppm
Testes1.3 ppm
Hair of adult cow12 ppm
Hair of goat11 ppm
Pullet feathers11.4 ppm
Lambs’ wool18.7 ppm

The ancestral diet and lifestyle provided an abundance of opportunities to consume manganese, a very different story than feeding today’s dog. The ancestral diet provided, on average, 3.1 mg of manganese per 1000 kcal (calories). This was, indeed, a naturally very ligament-supportive diet!

The Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) minimum manganese requirements are 1.8 mg per 1000 kcal of food (and these are new standards, the old standards were less at 1.4 mg per 1000 kcal). This is roughly 50 percent less than what the ancestral diet provides!

This meant my conventional veterinary colleagues who were recommending regular “dog food” (kibble formulated with AAFCO minimum nutrient requirements) should also be seeing an abundance of non-traumatic CCL injuries. And indeed, this was true. CCL injuries are the most common soft tissue injury seen in veterinary medicine today.11

Homemade ‘Prey Model’ Diets Provide Very Little Manganese

A homemade prey model diet of “80/10/10” lean beef (blend of meat/bone/organ) supplies 0.22 mg Mn per 1000 kcal. Chicken 80/10/10 supplies 0.12 mg Mn per 1000 kcal. What does this mean? These excellent-quality, meat-based diets are even more deficient than AAFCO’s too-low recommended minimums.

These facts highlight two things. Number one, the difference between supplying just enough nutrients to survive (AAFCO standards) vs. supplying the vast nutrients needed to thrive (the ancestral diet nutrition parameters) means lots of commercial diet/dry food-fed dogs end up at the veterinary orthopedic surgeon’s office.

Secondly, prey model feeders — those people who are spending a lot of money to feed unbalanced, fresh food diets to dogs with torn cruciate ligaments — need to reassess how well “balance over time” is really working.

Other Sources of Manganese

By now you might be wondering what other foods contain manganese. Steve Brown put together some numbers for that question as well, based on USDA food data. Unfortunately you can’t (or wouldn’t) feed the following foods in high enough concentrations to meet your dog’s manganese requirements, but adding them in small amounts can be beneficial (the foods in red font are suitable for dogs):

Manganese Content of Selected Foods

FoodMg Per 1000 KCalGrams Needed to Obtain 1 Mg ManganeseKCal Total After Adding 1 Mg Manganese
Cloves, ground22524.5
Cinnamon, ground12768
Wheat bran, crude61916
spinach, raw4311123
mussel, blue, raw412924
Rice bran, crude40725
Wheat germ, crude407.525
blackberries, raw2415542
lettuce, green leaf, raw1940053
Oat bran, cooked1510468
spirulina, dried553200
beef liver, raw2.3323418
beef heart, raw0.328573053
chicken dark meat, lean, raw0.1555566528
beef, ground, 90 percent lean, 10 percent fat, raw0.061000016955

Preventing CCL Injuries

My recommendation for avoiding CCL injuries is simple: Don’t guess at your dog’s diet. Feed a homemade, fresh food diet you know is balanced for optimal nutrient intake (and not just manganese, all nutrients). Keep your dog in shape, intact (opt for an ovary-sparing spay or vasectomy, when possible), and titered.

I am a firm believer in nutrigenomics; you can up or down regulate genetic potential by what you feed your dog. If dogs are eating a ligament-supportive diet they should not have degenerative cruciate damage over time, unless hit by a Mack Truck. How do you know you are feeding a manganese rich diet?

  • Follow a homemade recipe that gives amounts of manganese per serving or 1000 kcal
  • Call the company and ask what guidelines they follow, or how much manganese (per 1000 kcal) is in their food, so you know you are meeting optimal intake for your dog
  • Supplement, as necessary (with whole foods or a supplement such as Standard Process E-Manganese) to meet Mn requirements

If your dog has sustained a CCL injury, partnering with a good canine rehabilitation facility and proactive veterinarian will offer your dog the best chances of recovering from this common injury.


Below are a few Acupressure points to help prevent CCL tears or to add to your recovery plan if your pup has a CCL injury

Bai Hui At the lumbar sacral space or the universal spot on dogs there is a little dip and it is right before the tail meets the lumbar spine; this is a great point for lower back and hip and leg stiffness and pain and a great calming and connecting point

BL 40 Right behind the knee use in conjunction with Bai Hui on both legs. This is the master point for hip and back benefits low back hip and strengthens stifles. Also benefits the hip and knee joint pain)

ST 36 find the front of the knee and slide your finger down into the little groove on the lateral side of each knee  helps with fatigued extremities and lower back stiffness and physical stress that produces stiffness. It is also a great immune point and supports the immune system in case it has been over stressed

GB34 Between the head of the tibia and head of the fibula on the lateral side of the back leg down from the kneecap you can feel a space between the two bones and there will be a stop where the bones meet and a little depression that your finger will fall into.GB34 it is the influential point for tendons and ligaments. helps strengthen tendons and ligaments in hind legs, also helps with blood flow.

KI3 BL60 top of the hock thin skin your fingers will slide into it on either side it is kind of like our Achilles this is two points Ki3 and BL60 K3 is a source point good for the kidneys which house original chi this will tonify source chi and give a little boost also helps with arthritis fear based issues and circulation. Kidney’s Sister Meridian is the Bladder so that is helpful as well BL 60 is called the aspirin point and is good one to help with pain and stiffness in body.

SP6   2 fingers above the medial malleolus or ankle bone for large dogs 1 finger width for small dogs.. this point is on the bone so just follow it up two finger widths on the inside of the back leg. This is a great point to increase blood flow and healing. It also reduces inflammation and supports liver kidney spleen

LIV3 between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal balances out the liver great point for detox also helps tonify tendons and reduces stiffness

LIV2 medial aspect of the 2nd digit distal to the metatarsal phalangial joint Relieves liver fire, dispels wind, invigorates the blood