Dog ACL Injuries and the Slow Road to Recovery

Dog ACL injuries are common and vary in degrees of seriousness. Read on to discover what your dog may require on the road to recovery from an ACL tear.

As Wally can attest, dog ACL injuries are all too common.
As Wally can attest, dog ACL injuries are all too common.

It’s a cold winter evening. My dogs go out for their last little romp before nestling snug in their beds.

Wally, the 11-year-old Cocker Spaniel, calmly walks up the two little steps to the deck, turns quickly to check on me, and turns his leg on the icy step.

A tiny yelp, barely audible in the quiet of the starlit night, and there goes his cruciate ligament.

Oops, there it is. A tiny yelp that could cost $3,000 to repair.

The most common orthopedic problem in our pet dogs is not broken bones or hip dysplasia. It’s the knee! Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), also known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), is all too common.

Knee injuries can be complicated to diagnose and to fix. There is controversy about when a dog needs surgery, and which surgical procedure is the best. When there’s controversy about how to solve a problem, like the best way to fix a dog knee, it usually means we don’t have all the answers, and this can frustrate owners. It frustrates me, too.

Add another factor to this mess: The cost. Surgery to repair a dog’s knee starts at expensive and can proceed to very expensive. Think anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000.

“Okay,” says the dedicated dog owner, “so I’ll cough up the bucks and then Chester’s knee will be fine, right? Oh, and what does he come home with? A cast or something? He’s good in about two weeks, right?”

Not so fast, Chester’s dad. Do you want the troublesome news or the bad news first? Chester’s knee has a good chance of being fine but it’s going to take a while. And no, the recovery is not a walk in the park, so to speak. Chester is going to be limited to very short walks in the park for several months.

And during that time, Chester’s overall activity has to be limited. He can’t do stairs or run free. You need to be willing to do some doggie physical therapy, or bring him to a canine rehab facility. After all that, any dog who blows out one cruciate has a 30 to 40% chance of tearing the ACL in the other knee some time down the road.

But Chester Just Tripped!

It doesn’t take much for your dog to sprain, partially tear or completely tear his cruciate ligament. He might jump off the bed and just land funny. She might walk up two front steps and trip. Maybe he jumps up for a frisbee, like he’s done 1,000 times before, but comes down wrong on the rear leg.

Or, maybe she took a walk by the stream and stumbled on a rock. Many times, the owner brings the dog in to me for what he thinks is a minor sprain, only to learn the upsetting news about dog ACL injuries.

Think of an ACL as a cable wire or a thick piece of twine. It is made up of many fibers. Sometimes the fibers are just stretched, strained or partially torn. Some dogs may improve if they have a slightly damaged cruciate ligament. Many, however, will continually limp on the leg, not be able to have a normal life and require surgery.

Risk Factors

  • Obesity. Fat dogs are more prone to knee injury. Listen to your vet and get your dog back to a normal weight.
  • Exercise. Dogs should have regular, daily exercise. If you want your dog to be more of an athlete, condition him as you would yourself. You wouldn’t run a marathon with no training. Neither should your dog.
  • The weekend warrior. Don’t let Elmo sleep on the couch all week and then let him run up Mt. Rainier on Sunday. Overdoing exercise with a dog that is not walking/running daily sets him up for injury, particularly knee injury.
  • Genetics and conformation. Even under ordinary circumstances, the dog’s knee is under more stress than the human counterpart, and is prone to injury more easily. Many ACL injuries in humans are athletic in nature, but the dog’s knee behaves like it’s on a basketball court in everyday life. In a human, it often takes a bad accident, like what Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn just endured. Now she has lots in common with Tiger Woods! Your pup doesn’t have to take to the slopes or the basketball court to sustain serious injury to his ACL.

Stifle What?

The knee is a complex joint. If you want to impress your friends, call it the stifle joint. There are two cruciate ligaments, two collateral ligaments, the lateral and the medial menisci, four bones and a knee cap (patellar).

Think of the cruciates as a crisscross of two bands holding your femur (top bone in your leg) to your tibia (lower bone). They rarely endanger the posterior cruciate ligament. When the ACL is torn, the entire leg is unstable, and the bones are rubbing, causing inflammation and degenerative joint changes.

By the way, our four-legged friends are like us with only two knees. Dogs’ front legs are built like our arms. This may sound like a no-brainer, but many dogs come in with an elbow injury and their owners think they’ve hurt “a knee.”

Diagnostics

The best way to diagnose an injured knee is the good old fashioned way: the physical exam by your vet. A vet cannot always diagnose the exact nature or extent of the knee injury, but can give you guidance on how to proceed. If an ACL is completely torn, it is quite clear when your vet palpates the knee. There will be a back and forth movement in the knee called a “drawer” sign.

But to get more detailed info about the exact details of the injury, i.e., how many other structures are involved, etc., you need advanced imaging like MRIs or CTs. This is not usually practical for dogs, although we will probably be doing many more of these in the future as the technology becomes less expensive and more readily available.

Regular radiographs are usually taken to make sure there aren’t other significant changes in the knee or hip, but the exact damage to the ligaments in the knee do not show up on a regular radiograph.

Treatment

The very first thing your vet will probably tell you is to severely limit your dog’s activity and prescribe rest. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are also usually prescribed.

If the vet did not find significant movement in the knee, swelling or pain, she or he may recommend a short period of rest to see if this is just a seriously sprained knee, with the caveat that many of these knees do not improve and will need surgery. If your dog is walking well on the knee within a week or so, clearly the ACL was not severely torn. If the limp continues without improvement, you need to follow up with your vet.

A small dog may do better with some ACL injuries without surgery, while a larger dog is most likely going to need surgical repair. I find most dogs thirty pounds or over require surgery.

Disclaimer: If the ACL is completely torn, even tiny dogs most likely need surgery, particularly if they’re active.

Surgical Repair

Here’s the part of the story I don’t like. There are at least three well-known surgeries commonly used to repair a cruciate ligament. They are all very different, and there are significant differences in cost.

Even though ACL tears are so common, and thousands upon thousands of surgeries have been done to repair dogs’ knees, there is still no clear consensus in the veterinary community as to which procedure is best for which dog.

Geometry, You Say? In a Knee?

There are three commonly used procedures to fix a knee:

  1. Lateral suture technique. This older, more common and still highly recommended repair consists of placing a synthetic suture in the knee to restore stability in place of the ACL. In the hands of a good surgeon, this surgery is recommended for many dogs, particularly dogs under fifty pounds.
  2. TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy). This is a referral orthopedic procedure. This surgery actually changes the conformation of the knee. The tibia is cut, moved and reattached. If done without complication, this surgery may result in less arthritic changes, and is often recommended for larger dogs.
  3. TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement). This surgery also requires a surgeon with specialized training. In this procedure, the tibia is cut and allowed to heal at a different angle, lessening the mechanical stresses on the knee. Both the TPLO and the TTA actually change the geometry of the knee joint. They are much more expensive than the lateral suture surgery, and require veterinary surgeons who are specially trained in the procedures.

Discussing these surgeries in detail is far beyond the scope of this article. Take-home message: Consider at least two opinions when your dog is diagnosed with an ACL injury, or ask your veterinarian if he or she is willing to talk in depth about ALL options available to you.

Beware: I think some surgeons go straight for the more involved procedures when this may not always be your best or only option. Get as much information as you can based on your particular dog, and the specific injury.

Wally, on the road to recovery
Wally, on the road to recovery

Recovery

Recovery is slow, with physical therapy done by you, or with the help of a trained canine rehabilitator.

If you have some money left over after surgery, and the time to go to some rehab appointments with your dog, professional rehabilitation is great. The fact that our pets need PT after trauma or surgery seems like a no-brainer, but it is a fairly new field in veterinary medicine. We will be doing more and more of it.

There is a lot of information on the internet suggesting dogs with ACL injuries don’t need surgery. The claim is they just need physical therapy. Although dogs with incomplete tears, smaller dogs and dogs that don’t do much in life can benefit from weight loss and physical therapy, I think these claims are misleading.

Many dogs limp continuously with a knee injury, never improving with conservative treatment, or their condition worsens. If surgery should be done and is not performed, the dog can suffer arthritic changes to the knee, the hip and the other leg. This is a painful situation that also limits his life as a happy, frolicking dog.

We are seven weeks post-op Wally’s ACL surgery and he is doing great. Walking him under icy conditions this winter, and carrying him up a long flight of stairs at night, has not been easy, but it’s been worth it.

He is slowly getting back to his old routines, tolerating his physical therapy every day, and should be back to normal by spring. Hats off to his surgeon (not me), his owner (me) and to Wally!

vet-cross60p

This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed Feb. 27, 2013.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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52 Comments

  1. Odie's mom
    March 02, 2013

    My 8 year old cocker spaniel just had surgery. I’m glad to know yours is recovering well and hope mine does too. I’m still getting over the shock of his exposed and swollen leg. Somehow the whole post op experience is more overwhelming than what I gather from my vet and online reading before the surgery. I sure hope its all worth it in the end.

    Reply
  2. Michelle
    May 22, 2013

    Can you please tell me where the statistic of 30-40% chance of tearing the other ACL comes from?

    Reply
    1. Kmix71
      September 24, 2014

      Not sure that this is a statistic but I’ve had 2 dogs now with CCL tears. The first tore the second one a year (to the day) that I picked him up from his first TPLO surgery and the second tore the second CCL one week (to the day) after the first. I can testify that it’s common. 🙁

      Reply
  3. Jes
    August 13, 2013

    I agree that conservative management isn’t alway appropriate, but I don’t think it should be ruled out entirely as an option. My dog was too old to have surgery when he tore his ACL. What were my choices? Ignore it? (no) Put him to sleep? (no way) or maybe try something unconventional and see if it works. So I bought a woundwear brace. Although I was skeptical, it was the least that I could do for my friend. Even though, he’s not the dog he used to be (a status he wouldn’t have been able to achieve even with surgery), he’s way better off than he was and I hope that I’ve given him a few more years to his life 🙂

    Reply
  4. Amber C
    October 04, 2013

    The vet said my basset hound puppy tore his acl, but on pain meds there is barely a limp. Is that normal or is the tear not as bad?

    Reply
  5. Debora lichtenberg
    October 04, 2013

    Amber, It’s possible your dog suffered a severe sprain of the ACL or a minimal tear that has almost healed. In my opinion, you should bring the dog in soon for a re-check with the surgeon. If there is no movement in the knee, it may be possible to treat this conservatively. Good luck!!!

    Reply
  6. shelly
    October 30, 2013

    My dog had acl surgery about 6 months ago, and is still not fully healed. He occasionally is still limping, or not putting any weight on it at all, and flinches in pain. I’ve brought him into the vet a few times when this happened, very worried that it was torn again. It always turned out to be okay. Everything I have read says that it shouldn’t take this long. I am concerned. I want him to heal up, not feel pain, and be able to enjoy being a puppy again. Is there anything you can suggest?

    Reply
    1. Benjamin Spaethe
      December 01, 2014

      Hi Shelly, what kind of dog do you have? We have a pit bull puppy who just turned a year old. He’s limping, so we took him to be seen and they said he needs ACL surgery. We didnt see the surgeon yet but the vet said with his breed, he likely will need it done to both legs. If your dog is the same breed as mine, I would love to know if you have any tips or online links you can steer my way? We love our Maxie and dont know what to expect. I hear from this article that surgery can cost a lot of money and recovery can take 6-9 months and I suspect recovery visits can be pricey and numerous. Anyway, if you have the same dog breed as ours, can you offer any tips/links as to what I may expect? I would sure appreciate anything. Thank you and I hope your pup is doing well these days 🙂

      Reply
      1. Bossman
        December 03, 2014

        HI Shelly i have of pit bull he is 7 year old .He just had ACL surgery a day of go & yes the cost was insane from my vet.so i went to the web and start look affordable and i found HELPING HAND VET.I CALL .best thing is i save 3gran

        Reply
  7. Star
    October 30, 2013

    I have read alot since a vet said my 85lb bully had bi lateral acl in his back legs, a week after he was neutered. He does not limp, just walks slower and whines when getting up from laying down. He still goes to the bathroom the same just doesn’t squat down as far. I followed my instinct to rush him into see a vet and regret that I left him to be sedated and x-rayed because he seemed to be in worse shape then when I took him in. Symptons are confusing because he doesn’t walk with a limp or seems lame, just more careful. He is on pain meds and supplements with very restricted activity, this is the end of week 1 on meds but 2 weeks from start of injury. Should I continue to follow conservative management to see if he improves slightly and maybe does not need surgery?

    Reply
  8. Debora lichtenberg
    October 30, 2013

    Most dogs are walking quite well by six months, although my little cocker was off and on limping until about seven months post-op.
    Physical therapy can be a great help in this situation. Try to find out if there is a practice in your area that does a lot of orthopedics and has a connection with a trained PT.

    Reply
  9. Debora lichtenberg
    October 30, 2013

    Every case is different. My advice is to have him re-checked after 2 to 3 weeks of rest and meds.
    Statistically speaking, and realize I am not examining your dog, but an 85 pound dog with complete tears of both ACL’s will not do well long term.

    Reply
  10. Gherkin Merkin
    November 13, 2013

    My (on the larger side) pom/maltese x had an on and off limp for a long time. It would usually happen following a fight with one of the other dogs and i thought she was putting it on since she was usually the one starting the fight. The limp would stop as soon as she walked away. One day though, I came home and she wasn’t putting any weight on it at all and she looked particularly uncomfortable. Off to the vet. Torn ACL. Likely it had minor damage and then she has completely torn it. She was 11.

    AU$2000 later, she had the lateral suture technique. I kept her completely confined for a good 10 days. After that she seemed to look after herself and took it relatively easy without my interference. She walked on 3 legs for a while and would use the sore leg to balance when she stopped or walked slowly. She slowly used it more and more herself, over time. We didn’t take her for any big walks for a good six months.

    It has been a year now and from her general demeanor following the procedure and recovery (trauma), i’d say it probably took a lot out of her. She definitely seems slower and quieter but she was already old, and now she’s 12, so it could just be old age mixed with the trauma of such an event.

    She does everything she used to do before, jumps on and off furniture, and she seems happy enough and doesn’t limp at all anymore.

    Reply
  11. Jocelyn Wilson
    June 09, 2014

    Hi

    I’m just wondering if you could share some of the physical therapy techniques you used? My dog is going in for the traditional operation today.

    Thanks
    Jw.

    Reply
    1. Pets Adviser
      June 09, 2014

      You might find this post-operative care guide to be helpful reading:

      http://www.twincitiesveterinarysurgery.com/docs/ACL.WP.pdf

      Of course you should speak with your vet/surgeon about specific care for your dog. Consider this care guide to be for information purposes only.

      Good luck on the road to recovery!

      Reply
  12. Julie Parton
    July 23, 2014

    I understand that this is a very old post, but I am seeking any advice that I can find. In March of this year my year old English Mastiff slipped on the snow and tore her right cruciate. We immediately had surgery. I was working through her rehab and at week 3, she tore the left cruciate. Again, we had surgery. Now we find ourselves in June….my baby girl is STILL not walking. The vets have been amazing and taking her every day for rehab. Her legs are stronger but she is still not extending her hind legs at all. She can’t walk. I don’t know what to do and the vets feel as though they have exhausted their ideas. Do you have any suggestions on what to do for my girl? Have you ever seen something like this happen before? I never imagined that she would never walk again. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  13. Joan Peterson
    August 20, 2014

    My 100 pound shepherd cross had knee surgery almost 4 years ago. And sadly, today I think he blew out the same knee. He is only 6 so I think I will try surgery again. He is such a sweet boy and I don’t want to euthanize him. If they can fix him up, that will be great. But if this were to occur for a third time and at 8 or 9, I would likely make the decision to euthanize him.

    Reply
  14. Kelly
    September 11, 2014

    My dog Lucy is steal healing from an ACL tear but she never had injury…I was too scared to do it!! I was trying to find non-surgical ways to help her and I came across Woundware. I got her a brace and it has been working wonders! Although she is not healed fully yet 🙁 she is not wobbling anymore and can go on short walks with me again.

    Reply
  15. Olivia
    September 18, 2014

    My 5 year old Cavachon has this surgery yesterday. It seems like she is having trouble chewing and her eyes appear to be bugged out. Could these side effects be from the medication or is there a bigger concern

    Reply
  16. Kmix71
    September 24, 2014

    HELP! My dog tore (complete tear) both CCL’s. I’ve been to three surgeons; one that wants to do the lateral suture – one knee at a time and two that want to do the TPLO – one wants to do both knees at one and the other wants to do them one at a time. My 6 year old pit mix is almost 80 lbs and, from what I seem to be finding, is not a good candidate for the lateral suture. However, the vet claims “that it will work just fine.” I don’t know what to do!

    Reply
  17. Kelly
    November 14, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your story about Wally 🙂 My dog, Button, is a little Yorkie and she tore her acl about a month ago. She is so tiny I was too scared to put her through surgery. I ended up getting her a a-trac brace from Woundwear and it has been wonderful! She had to get used to it but after she did I could tell she was happy to walk around again. Thanks for sharing your story!!

    Reply
  18. Cheryl
    December 04, 2014

    This just happened to my 5 year yorkie terrier mix today. She jumped off our driveway retaining wall about a foot high off the level ground. We took her to the vet as soon as she yelped and started limping with no weight on the leg. I thought I was going to pass out when the vet said surgery probable if it doesn’t get better within a week. Anyway, thank you for this article. We have a good pet therapy place near us and I’m hopeful our active little dog will get back to herself eventually, surgery or not.

    Reply
  19. brianpmalone
    December 08, 2015

    Oh man, pretty sure my 6yo mutt has torn his ACL (single vet visit, she thought it might be torn and prescribed some anti-inflammatories), but this sounds awful. He’s already endured (and so has my wallet) an invasive PDA operation and recovery as a puppy, and I’d hate to put him back under again. But he cannot put weight on his back leg. Confusing part is that he appears to be in no pain and completely unaffected by it, but I suppose that’s the resiliency of animals/dogs, in general.

    Sigh.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      December 08, 2015

      brian, dogs can be incredible. When I was young, we had a mixed breed that actually got hit by a CAR and was walking around fine an hour later! If you are not sure, it’s never a bad idea to call your vet. Let us know what he says!

      Reply
  20. senojydna
    February 22, 2016

    My 115-pound bloodhound mix is 5 days into a TPLO recovery. After sleeping through the first few days, he’s now alert and quite bored. Much to our combined chagrin, he has 7 more weeks of recovery before he can have an off-leash adventure.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      February 23, 2016

      senojydna, hang in there! I am really glad to hear that he’s doing so well — must be that TLC you’re giving him!

      Reply
    2. Daniel V
      December 08, 2017

      Hey @senojydna:disqus , Just found out that my 6year old Lab has two torn CCLs. The surgeon recommends that we go through a TPLO. I’m a little concerned (due to lack of knowledge) about the recovery process. Having gone through it yourself a couple years ago, i wanted to see how your dog is doing now. Has she fully recovered? Is she back to her pre-surgery athleticism? Any complications or side-effects from the procedure?

      -Nervous doggo dad

      Reply
      1. senojydna
        December 08, 2017

        Hey @disqus_U8TVvxHdf8:disqus , I don’t know what the larger research says about efficacy of the procedure, but it really couldn’t have worked out better for my guy. Even a couple of months after the surgery, he had recovered to what I would say is 90% of the movement/stamina/usage of the leg. His ligament in his other leg is torn, but he gets along extremely well on “three good wheels”. He even runs well.

        The recovery was hard for both of us, but he seemed to understand his limitations (maybe due to pain?) and didn’t push himself too hard. I definitely walked him a bit more than doctor’s orders a few weeks after the procedure, mainly because I hated seeing him bored.

        There have been no complications or side effects. In fact, the cost of the operation was 100% worth it — I believe it might have even extended his life. He’s 10 and a half now, and is doing extremely well for a dog of his size.

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          December 08, 2017

          Thank you so much for coming back to reply, and I am so glad to hear it worked out so well for you and your pup!

          Reply
  21. shannon Snell
    April 19, 2016

    Our American Bulldog looks like she will be going for surgery shortly 🙁 , we tried rest , Laser therapy etc etc she comes out of surgery HORRIBLY so we wanted to try a couple things first …. I have read many blogs …. woudl you say the first few days are the hardest ? Do they start to “try” tjeir leg after a few days

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      April 19, 2016

      Hi Shannon! This is actually a great question for some of our members! We have a thread about this here: https://www.petful.com/general-discussion/dog-acl-rehab-questions/

      I haven’t experienced this myself, so the members would be more help than I on this one! Best of luck with the surgery, I’ve got my fingers crossed!

      Reply
  22. Celine Kahwagi
    May 11, 2016

    can my 1 yr old labrador heal from a partially stretched ligament without a surgery?
    its been 7 weeks since his injury, with restricted exercise (no playing,no jumping, no long walks,no running). he walks just fine, but when i test him by making him run a few meters,his leg is still weak and he doesnt put much weight on it.
    do u know how long it will take him to heal? and will there be a risk of a ligament rupture once it is healed and back to his normal dog life

    Reply
  23. Pippa Elliott
    May 27, 2016

    Hi Frenchlad,
    What a difficult position to be in, I do feel for you.
    Dr Deborah’s article is a great summary of the options with cruciate injuries. Unfortunately, for a large breed with a full cruciate tear, surgery is the best option otherwise you are on a slippery slope of muscle wastage, early arthritis, and damage to the other leg.
    There are different operations, of which the lateral suture is usually the least expensive. Be honest with your vet and explain finances are an issue. Ask if the lateral technique is appropriate for your dog. [This is an old-fashioned technique and some vets dismiss it out of hand because of this. However, what goes around comes around and some vets are re-adopting this technique. However the results are best in smaller dogs.] Likewise, ask about a payment plan to spread the costs.
    In the meantime make sure she is on pain meds, and consider giving her a nutraceutical supplement to promote joint health such as those containing glucosamine or chondroitin, Oh, and without wishing to make a bad situation worse, the extra strain on her other back leg isnt great, so try to find a way forward sooner rather than later.
    Wishing you luck.

    Reply
  24. Joseph
    May 27, 2016

    My beagle tore her ACL over a year ago and we went with the Lateral suture technique surgery. It was a tough decision to make because of how much contradicting information there is out there on the internet, and even depending on the vet that you talk with. I got several opinions from different vets and I also did a lot of research into the different techniques on my own, as well as balancing out the conservative treatment option. For several reasons we went with the surgery and I can thankfully say that it was successful. We ended up also getting her a dog knee brace from Ortocanis that I could start using about 5 days after the operation. Whether or not that’s an option that will work for everyone I don’t know, the only thing I do know is that we managed to get our healthy, happy and active dog back to normal again.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      May 27, 2016

      Thank you for sharing, Joseph! So glad to hear your beagle is doing well. It’s hard to know what to do when there is so much conflicting information out there!

      Reply
  25. marie
    July 17, 2016

    there are organizations that help pay for vet bills if the owner can not afford it. I live in mass and found this info at the emergency vets office. my dog had the surgery almost 3 weeks ago and is doing well. contact your vet an ask if they know about these organizations that help pet owners with their bills. I wish you the best

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      July 18, 2016

      Great information, Marie. Thank you so much for sharing!

      Reply
  26. Countryboy
    September 29, 2016

    My breeder with whom I have remained friends with just had to put down her personal pet Rottweiler because of a severe tear in a tendon. It would require a breaking of the rear leg bone and then reattaching the tendon…. the $3000 operation then became $7000 once the surgeon went in there and saw all the damage. Even then it was explained the dog may never be well and the decision was made to put her to sleep.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      September 29, 2016

      I’m so sorry to hear this, it must have been such a hard decision for your friend.

      Reply
  27. Winston Smith
    December 11, 2016

    I have the same concern, we are 6 weeks post-lateral suture, our 10 +yo hyper beagle is going crazy! 6 weeks after we got her from a pet rescue she attempted to jump up some rockery and got clotheslined by her leash length, struck her knee in the rocks. I’m confused, prior to surgery she had the run of the house, but was basically calm indoors. We now keep her tied to a short cable or kenneled, but she does dances and ricochets off the walls in her kennel, my wife is hardcore about wanting to keep confined, but simple observation makes it appear counterproductive.

    Reply
  28. Sharon Brucks
    March 12, 2017

    Two years ago, my 30-pound terrier mix tore his ACL after jumljng off a bed. The vet recommended surgery costing about $4000, with no guarantee that it was a permanent fix. I carefully nursedhim back to health, carrying him up and down flights of steps to go “potty,” until he was finally weight bearing on that leg. Then I started short slow walks, and he gradually got full use of the leg back. Then, this weekend, feeling frisky, he jumped from the back seat of the car to the ground (I had always been careful to make him jump from the floorboard before), and landed screaming. It seems he has injued the opposite leg now. I’m going to try repeating the rehab and see how itgoes. I read he can take 2 baby aspirin twice a day for the inflammation and pain (on a full stomach), so here we go.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      March 13, 2017

      I’m so sorry! Keep us posted on how he does 🙁

      Reply
  29. Josh Mason
    April 19, 2017

    My 10 year old pit mix who is an absolute sweetheart, started limping gradually. The vet said he had a minor ACL strain and has developed arthritis from it. He told us surgery would not fix it, and didn’t give us much of a rehab plan other than some NSAIDS for two weeks and restrict intense exercise. Several months later he’s on a roller coaster of recovery, some days walking well and even wanting to run, and then suddenly, he won’t use his leg at all. I’m really not sure what to do. We love Nui very much and feel helpless in getting him better.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      April 19, 2017

      Hi Josh! Poor pup; these types of injuries are really tough to live with for all of you. My mom has a Chihuahua who is going through the same thing. I think the first thing that occurs to me is that you could try limiting his activity even on days he seems okay. My dog had arthritis and the vet gave me pain meds for her to give as needed. Some days she needed a pill but others not. Maybe that’s an option?

      Reply
      1. Josh Mason
        April 19, 2017

        Thank you Melissa. I have tried a hodge podge of activity limiting. He’s getting old, so it’s seems logical that he needs to stay active if he is going to stay healthy. So I’ve been back and forth on this, especially as I don’t want to see his life slowly melt away. I’d definitely keep him less active if I knew it would lead to a fuller recovery, but the vet said that exercise is actually helpful for his arthritis. Any other thoughts on it? Really appreciate the insights you and others have shared.

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          April 20, 2017

          It’s definitely a tough call! The only other thing I can think of is to ask the vet if there is some sort of soft brace that you could use for his leg – kind of like the ace bandage that people use? Something meant primarily to add support?

          Reply
  30. James Fay
    June 17, 2017

    Today we took our 36lb frenchton to a specialist for his right knee. You see he thinks he is part gazelle and tried to jump a 3ft fence. He backed up, looked at the fence and took a running leap only to bounce off the fence backwards about 4feet. He started limping immediately the next day seemed fine. We took him to our regular Vet who pronounced him fine but gave us pain meds in case he started limping again. And he did! Today we took him to a specialist, he didn’t tear up one knee he tore both knees up. He is facing double knee surgery for tore ACL, TLPO. We are so nervous, he is only 15 months. We have his brother at home keeping them quiet and calm feels like mission impossible. The whole thing is going to cost $9,200.00. We are so scared.

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      June 19, 2017

      Hi James! I am so sorry to hear about your pup 🙁 I know it’s very scary, this is a big injury! I do want to say, you CAN get a second opinion. Your pup may indeed need dual surgeries – but with a price tag like that, why not just double check?

      As to keeping him calm, ask the vet if there are some sort of braces that will help support his legs and maybe slow him down a little bit.

      Reply
  31. Singing Bear
    March 13, 2018

    Our sweet 3 yr old 55 pd lab mix needs cruciate ligament surgical repair I am worried about having to give her too many post surgery pain meds and adversely affecting her kidneys. Any suggestions for her recovery are welcome. thanks

    Reply
    1. Melissa Smith
      March 15, 2018

      Hi Singing Bear! The best thing you can do is to sit down with the vet before the surgery and express your concerns. Find out what you can do from home to help mitigate any side effects that would cause kidney issues. Ask the vet what your dog’s tolerance is to the pain medication and how long she should take it. Find out if there are other alternatives to some of the stronger pain medications out there. Your vet should be more than willing to discuss all options and concerns.

      Reply
      1. Singing Bear
        March 15, 2018

        Thank you Melissa. Now if we can just get through the part where she’ll need to be contained. I’m thinking of a dog pen. She may be calmer there than crated.

        Reply
        1. Melissa Smith
          March 15, 2018

          A LOT of pet parents run into this issue, I know my mother actually had a brace put on the leg that was super awkward in order to slow her pup down

          Reply

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