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ACL injury in dog

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  • ACL injury in dog

    My dog injured her ACL this week. Vet said 3 months of no activity and it should heal. She said surgery could have her walking on the leg faster, but still would need 3 months rest. Vet said she wouldn't go the surgery route at this point.

    She is a 6 yo Golden Retiever and so far is doing OK hopping on 3 legs to get out to potty. She doesn't seem to be in pain, but is on meds for inflamation and pain.

    I'm concerned of additional injury especially as she starts to heal.

    Anyone have any experience with this type of injury in a dog? Would love to hear from anyone that has dealt with this and has any advise to pass along.

  • #2
    SUPER common. Ensure your dog is lean, obesity is the #1 culprit in cruciate tears.

    Radiographs are a good idea to see whether medical management is going to work. If you have concerns, a discussion with an orthopedic surgeon is a good idea. They can go over the benefits and problems with conservative management vs. surgery.

    There's never a rush to get into surgery, so trying conservative management for a few weeks is a good idea. You should see significant improvement within a few weeks with rest and antiinflammatories, but will take a while to get back to full use of the leg. Usually with conservative management the dogs are never 100%, but pretty close. Its a good idea to ensure they lead a slightly modified life afterwards (low impact exercise, no agility or flyball etc.) while keeping them lean is essentail. With a TPLO surgery, there is better stabilization so a more active life (ie. agility) is more attainable. It really depends on what your goals for your dog are. Obese or super active? I would recommend surgery. Lean and not a working dog? Conservative is absolutely worth a try.

    Keep a real close eye on improvement though, arthritis can build up mighty quick without surgical intervention. If you want to go the conservative route, look for a certified/boarded rehab specialist to show you the proper routine for conservative care.

    Comment


    • #3
      what I know about ACL injuries is this.

      they scare the you-know-what outta me. *raises eyes* pleasepleaseplease no ACL injuries to my dogs!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
        SUPER common. Ensure your dog is lean, obesity is the #1 culprit in cruciate tears.

        Radiographs are a good idea to see whether medical management is going to work. If you have concerns, a discussion with an orthopedic surgeon is a good idea. They can go over the benefits and problems with conservative management vs. surgery.

        There's never a rush to get into surgery, so trying conservative management for a few weeks is a good idea. You should see significant improvement within a few weeks with rest and antiinflammatories, but will take a while to get back to full use of the leg. Usually with conservative management the dogs are never 100%, but pretty close. Its a good idea to ensure they lead a slightly modified life afterwards (low impact exercise, no agility or flyball etc.) while keeping them lean is essentail. With a TPLO surgery, there is better stabilization so a more active life (ie. agility) is more attainable. It really depends on what your goals for your dog are. Obese or super active? I would recommend surgery. Lean and not a working dog? Conservative is absolutely worth a try.

        Keep a real close eye on improvement though, arthritis can build up mighty quick without surgical intervention. If you want to go the conservative route, look for a certified/boarded rehab specialist to show you the proper routine for conservative care.
        Thanks for the reply! You have passed on some great info

        In all my years of dog ownership I have never come across this issue until now. Seems everyone I tell about my girl knows of a dog who has the same injury.

        My pup is not obese and on the fit side - we walk for excerise together 7 days a week from 2 mile --> 4 mile walks at a swift pace. She is not an agility dog unless a squirrel comes into play (hence this injury). Her normal day is house dog, barn helper and walking partner.

        From reading on the web I should also start her on Glucosamine supplements. My DH saw a brace used for this injury. She is now 5 days post injury and I see her touching her foot to the ground at times. Not sure if this should concern me or shows improvement in her condition. I plan to discuss the supplement and brace with her vet this week, but if anyone has goods or bads please let me know.

        Comment


        • #5
          Our 15 yr. old Lab tore her ACL in late September. For various reasons, she is not a candidate for surgical repair. At the recommendation of our vet, we elected to try laser therapy instead. We've done it for 5 months, starting with 3x/week and gradually decreased the treatments to once every two weeks. She also takes Tramadol as needed and Glucosamine and Previcox daily. We watch her activity level and carry her up and down steps (as much to do with age as the injury). She was 3-legged for about a month, but now happily does her version of running with our other dogs. We have always kept her on the leaner side, and I think it has made a huge difference in her ability to get around since her injury. She no longer has a great deal of strength in that leg, but she can now get up on her own. At 15, she is quite happy and we are grateful for every day we have with our old girl.

          I would definitely recommend trying the laser therapy, if it is available to you. I've heard mixed reports on having the surgery done; much of which, I'm sure, has to do with the individual animal. Good luck to you and your girl. I'm sure it's got to be much harder to keep a 6 yr. old quiet
          ~*Friend of bar.ka*~

          Comment


          • #6
            2 of my dogs tore their ACLs.

            1 1/2 yr old dobie needed surgery. We did the TPLO the following day.
            Her partner in crime wasn't so bad but he tore his about 8 months or so ago at that time we did medical management. He is a 2 1/2 yr old boxer. We just did a TPLO on him about a month ago now.

            Both dogs are super fit and active. I wish we had not waited to do the boxers surgery. He is having a harder time with recovery and now goes to rehab 3 times a week as he is still not using the leg. The dobie was back to normal with in a few weeks post op.

            Comment


            • #7
              If your dog is lean, get radiographs and have the tibial angle measured. If its greater than it should be, surgery is likely your best bet to prevent it from happening again. In most cases, lean dogs tear their cruciates when they are compromised by a bad knee angle. If the angle is ok, then you will at least know giving conservative management a try is worth it. If the angle is steep, you are fighting a losing battle and the longer you wait the less chance there is for recovery. Radiographs arent too pricey, and can give you a wealth of information on conservative vs surgical management.

              Comment


              • #8
                Without radiographs, it's very difficult to tell if you are dealing with a partial tear or a complete tear. If it's partial, then yes, the dog can be medically manged. If it's a complete tear, then surgery is the only way to fix the damage. Depending on the size of your dog, she may be a candidate for a TTA (typically a little less expensive) instead of a TPLO. Since she's a Golden, I'm assuming she's over 40lb, which pretty much excludes her as a candidate for the lateral suture (AKA fishing line) procedure. If you do choose medical management, it should include STRICT cage rest with leash walks for potty breaks only, no off-leash running, no stairs, etc.; plus pain meds and anti inflammatories. Laser therapy is fantastic, as is appropriate physical rehabilitation exercises.

                Our 55lb dog completely tore her cranial cruciate ligament (proper term in dogs is CCL vs. ACL) a couple of years ago. She was squatting to pee and a rabbit started running, so she took off after it; she yelped and fell over like she'd been hit with a brick. Completely non weight bearing immediately. We knew she had really straight stifle angles and some joint degeneration ahead of time, so weren't exactly surprised when it happened. Luckily we "got away" with a $2200 TTA. (That actually ended up being closer to $3k over all ... the initial sedated rads were about $300, the ER vet visit the next day to replace the staples she chewed out were $300, and the second type of antibiotics that we had to get to replace the ones that gave her blowout diarrhea added about $50 (including the recheck exam fee.)

                Sarah King, RVT who works with three board-certified veterinary surgeons
                Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I learn so much here. Thanks everyone for the information on angles. Had no idea.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would be worried that it is still non weight bearing.
                    My Aussie injured her ACL also a couple of weeks ago when we were cross country skiing (she took off after something.) She yelped and came back on 3 legs and I knew right away what it was. Took her to the vet's the next day - she was diagnosed with tear although we did not do xrays - just history, palpation and sit test.
                    Was put on generic Rymadil for 10 days and restricted exercise. She has been fully weight bearing since then (is off the meds now) so we'll probably wait for surgery but are keeping a close eye on her.
                    "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BEARCAT View Post
                      I would be worried that it is still non weight bearing.
                      My Aussie injured her ACL also a couple of weeks ago when we were cross country skiing (she took off after something.) She yelped and came back on 3 legs and I knew right away what it was. Took her to the vet's the next day - she was diagnosed with tear although we did not do xrays - just history, palpation and sit test.
                      Was put on generic Rymadil for 10 days and restricted exercise. She has been fully weight bearing since then (is off the meds now) so we'll probably wait for surgery but are keeping a close eye on her.
                      Aussies generally have decent knees, and as they are smaller breeds often they do well with rest. The ones that generally visit the surgeons are labs, goldens and german sheps. Of course there are others, but those are the common 3.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        appropriate thread for me.
                        My 8 yr old 40 kg lab started limping a couple of weeks ago. He was weight bearing and did not seem in pain. We had a very busy few days and had to go away and we boarded him at the vet's for 3 days asking them to keep an eye on it. Finally today I took him back and the vet thinks cruciate ligament. Argh,.. he will be on Metacam for 7 days to see if it makes a difference. Then we will probably proceed with xrays of knee and hips. The result will determine if he needs surgery or not. Of course, being a very active dog, he will require the TPLO surgery. He is very lean, but tall and she said his weight is great and is helping.
                        There is a travelling ortho surgeon who comes to the clinic on a regular basis, brings his own tech, does the surgery and the regular clinic takes over. I was quoted $3K not including the $470 for xrays first.
                        Sigh, when it is not the horses, it is the dog!!! I am NOT made of money guys!!

                        However, I would be glad NOT to have to go to OVC!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Our now 14 y.o. GSx tore her right ACL about 4 years ago. She did have surgery. About a year later, she tore the other. Apparently that is very common, so just be prepared, if you can.
                          Both surgeries went well. She is on 75 mg of rimydyl a day and gets Cosequin as well.
                          At age 14, her back end is definitely weakening. She has tremors in her back legs but stil has some bounce in her step.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tiz the season! Saw 14 with cruciate tears last week.

                            The good thing about TPLO's is that the failure rate is quite low. The nice thing is, once its fixed its fixed and they arent going to injure that ligament again, whereas conservative management wont make it stronger. $3000 is right on par for a TPLO without radiographs. Our hospital charges about $3800, but it includes all pre/post radiographs and the followups afterwards for free. They also do an arthroscopy of the knee to release the meniscus and tidy up any roughness in the joint.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              thanks Squish. I think that no matter how he reacts on the metacam, I will do the xrays just to know. I chatted with a barn mate whose lab had the surgery at 9 yo. He was put down two years ago for other reasons at age 14. She said it cost her $7500 at OVC, but he was totally fine after the surgery.
                              I am sure it will cost me more than the $3K + the xrays... but he will stay local. When I saved for my retirement, I did not expect to have animals who would help themselves to my nest egg at such a rate.

                              I am surprised though that he does not look in pain at all; he is mostly weight bearing too. And when he lies down, it's mostly on that side. The vet agreed that, yes, they all seem to do that.

                              He is a very active dog, running, swimming, on a 5K hike every day. Of course, he is now only being walked on a leash in the neighbourhood. He is not happy about that!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Be prepared for the other one to be affected as well. It is very common for them to injure/tear the other cruciate once they have one bad one. Colorado state's vet ortho service right now is doing a study on stem cell injections into the non-injured cruciate to see if it will help prevent damage to the other.

                                Unlike in humans, it's more of an inflammatory process rather than strictly traumatic process that leads to tears/damage so problems in the joints can be pretty influential. They can also have partial tears that progress. The meniscus can also be damaged and cause pain which is something to consider with medical management and what is causing pain.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you go with a TPLO, make sure the surgeon is very experienced. It is a very complicated surgery and you want a specialist. My vet sent me 2 hours away to a surigcal specialty center for my shepherd. He's had both knees done and you can't even tell. He's extremely active and there's no way anything else was gong to work. He is 5 months post surgery and completely back to normal activity by the 4th month. (Dennis' normal activity is racing cars along the fence line, bouncing and spinning at the end of the fence every day. So this is not a couch potato dog)!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My now 2yo golden retriever partially tore her ACL in her former home (I've owned her for almost 6 months now). They chose not to do surgery, and instead had her on Rimadyl and rest. She completely recovered from it, and doesn't have any resulting lameness. I do, however, try to set her up for success - reduced her weight, increased her activity (walking/jogging)...but those darn squirrels seem to like messing that all up.
                                    “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~Emerson

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I wouldn't wait to do surgery if the vet is sure it's completely torn- the longer the knee goes without adequate stabilization, the more likely arthritis will set in later and cripple the dog. If you buy a knee-brace and completely confine the dog for five to six months, it MIGHT heal on its own without later complications of arthritis, but you have to worry about quality of life with such a long confinement period; with surgery, the dog is only completely confined for about a week, and then the dog starts on physical therapy, much better for the dog's mind and body than crate rest for months.

                                      I wouldn't do a TPLO, either- the vets like to push them for bigger dogs, but there is no evidence that TPLO gives better results than any of the simpler types of repairs, and TPLO is incredibly invasive and can have some serious adverse events, such a bone cancer or infections at the site of the metal implant. If you can find a vet who does Tightrope repairs, your dog will have a much easier, safer recovery than with TPLO. Even the older "fishline" repair is better than TPLO.

                                      More critical in full recovery than the exact type of surgical procedure used is how quickly after the injury the surgery is done, and whether you do intensive physical therapy post-op vs. just resting the dog. People who "rest" the dog tend to have far worse outcomes than people who do the physical therapy.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Just sending best wishes. My old (now deceased) dog tore his and we did the TTA which was relatively new at the time. It was amazing how well it worked and how strong he was on that knee until he died at 14. It sounds like you've gotten a lot of great info here - hopefully you will not need surgery, but if so, find an experienced surgeon and definitely follow the post-op instructions. We never regretted the surgery although of course it was expensive.

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