ACL question

arbisiJanuary 10, 2009

My miniture American Eskimo was limping on and off for about a week that progressed to not using his rear left leg at all. Thursday I took him to the vet who took x-rays & ruled out bone cancer but did note that his muscles on his left leg were smaller than the right & predicts that he has a torn ACL. He gave him Rimadyl & referred me to a surgeon. After two days of Rimadyl Shylo is using his leg again with just a slight limp which I know isn't a cure just a sign that he is in alot less pain. My question is should I give it a few weeks(unless his limp gets worse)to see if he will heal on his own or go ahead with the surgical consult. I have read on other posts that surgery isn't always the best choice. I am keeping him as calm as possible & restricting his outside time to potty breaks only. We don't have any steps & he is not allowed on the furniture so climbing & jumping is not an issue.

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If the dog needs surgery you probably should do it. You didn't say how old the dog is, but my lab had to have the surgery four years ago when he was 8 and it was a lifesaver for him. He has been doing great (knock on wood) since the surgery. Delaying the inevitable may further damage the leg, but that is just a laypersons opinion. I'm not a vet and don't make any claims to have any special knowledge other than the experience of having the surgery done for my dog. It wasn't cheap but I have not regretted doing it.

Best of luck to you!


    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 10:44AM
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Not sure what would be gained by waiting? I'd suggest scheduling the appointment for the consult. If it seems to be healing on it's own by the time you get him in, you'll at least have established your dog as a patient with the surgeon in the event of (likely) relapse. I agree it's the NSAID that is making your dog feel better for now. You might also want to discuss with your vet whether waiting for the surgery could result in a less successful result later on. Delay could result in other injuries and more pain for your pup.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 1:30PM
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Ligaments will not heal well on their own. Find an orthopedic surgeon who is versed in TPLOs and ligament repair. Good luck

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 7:33PM
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My dog tore his ACL and we opted not to have surgery.

I would still have the consult with the surgeon, to discuss the extent of tear and discuss options both, with or without surgery.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 3:56PM
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Torn ligaments do not heal on their own. Even if they did, the cause of the torn ligament is a misalignment of the joint, so it would occur again anyway. The misalignment of the joint is almost always bilateral, so the other knee is a risk as well. The longer the surgery is delayed, the more degenerative joint disease occurs, and that is not reversible. If you are going to do surgery, doing it sooner rather than later allows the best results with the least amount of permanent degenerative joint disease.

There are pros and cons to surgery and to medical management. It is best to discuss your dog's individual case with your surgeon. Pain management is the most important issue- degenerative joint disease is progressive and painful. Surgery is painful in the short term only.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 6:11PM
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Thanks everyone. I will go for the surgical consult. Joepyeweed--what did you do for your dog instead of surgery & what has been the outcome?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Well that dog has since passed. He lived until he was 14. He was a hound dog mix about 45 pounds. He had a partial tear of his left rear ligament at the age of 10. I know exactly when the tear happened, he was playing with my sister's dog (who was much larger than him), while running and chasing the larger dog rolled the smaller dog. So it wasn't a necessarily a defective joint issue, it was the direct result of an trauma injury.

He got up from the roll and stopped using his rear left leg. We crated him to keep him from using it and got him to the vet the next day. Xray and MRI showed a partial tear. He was just starting to be past his prime, and wasn't necessarily very active anyway...and the vet said, if we thought we could keep him from being active, running and jumping for a few weeks, the stretched muscles around the tear would heal and help support the knee. He was on medications for pain and swelling... I forget which ones (that was 5 years ago).

So he was crated or on leash for several weeks. He limped for a the first week and then seemed fine forever after that... if he was a younger dog or a larger dog we probably would have done the surgery. Well fine for an old dog...we started him on condrotin and glucosomin therapy and some other geriatric vitamins after that. He was mobile right up until the day he died (eventually a brain tumor got the best of him).

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Minor correction: I was thinking about the timeline in my last post, and I think he must have been 7 or 8 when he tore his ligament... based upon my memory of where we lived at the time....

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Joepyweed--Thanks for the info. My Eskie is about 6 or 7 years old ( not sure--he was an abused shelter dog when we got him). He is 23 lbs so not a very big guy. He is doing so well on his meds that I think I am going to wait a week before consulting a surgeon. Money is a real issue as my son is seriously ill & we have hospital & doctor bills out the yang right now. If Shylo's leg gets worse then I will definately look into the surgery but for now I am taking a temporary "wait & see" approach. The vet didn't say it was positively a torn ACL. He just said it MIGHT be. All the joints & bones looked fine on the x-ray. We didn't get an MRI yet.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 6:57PM
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They can't be positive without the MRI. And if your dog is using his leg, I too probably would wait and see. You'll need to restrict the dogs activity for a couple weeks. Keep him walking, but don't let him run or jump. If he is still limping after a couple weeks, you probably should follow up with the other Vet. You need to be mindful that he will always be prone to re-injury, which at that time you may be able to afford to do more.

Many dogs and people live just fine with unrepaired ACL's...they may have to adjust to limited mobility, but its not a life threatening injury. I lived with a torn and stretched out ACL for about 5 years before it FINALLY snapped, and bunched up in my knee, blocking movement. Most people who aren't athletes don't really need their ACL's repaired either... I finally repaired mine, but not until the injury blocked movement in my knee. But I survived for years with a torn ACL. It doesn't hurt until it twists or tears even more. And actually my knee hurts more now after surgery, its just more stable... the surgery offered stability but cost some daily comfort. I would imagine, its similar for dogs...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:07AM
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John Elway won two Super Bowls with a torn ACL that was never repaired. Even the pro athletes don't always need the repair. Of course, he wore a brace and he did major conditioning work to keep the supporting muscles strong.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 12:49PM
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Don't remind me, I'm a Packer Fan!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 1:02PM
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arbisi - ask to work with your vet, there is a new company out called credit care and they will give you a low interest low in order to help pay for your dogs surgery. Many vets will work with you so you can afford to get your dogs surgery done. You can cut corners on many things from meds to hardware....please get a consult so your dog does not suffer too long. If it was you and you tore your ligament how long would you want to wait? Just because your dog seems to be doing better does not mean your dog is not in pain. Good luck

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 8:30PM
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IF she goes to the surgeon, they may already have a payment options. And if the dog is using the leg, she could wait for the surgery, and start saving money now for a future surgery.

If your dog is not limping, and you can handle his leg, its likely he is not in pain. Its too bad they can't talk, eh?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 10:34AM
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Your Eskie stays off the furniture??!! Even when you aren't there? My Eskie is almost 5 and weighs 23 lbs. - I refer to him as a large mini or a small standard. Personally, I would try to find a way to see the ortho and determine the damage. The MRI will be expensive (we used to have mini Dachshunds and my 2 special soulmate pups had worst case back/neck disc disease and the horrible surgeries - and they were very expensive (we are in Canada). I am sure you will understand that absolutely nothing scares me more than a dog who appears to have a problem walking. Hence we now have an Eskimo. Two years ago he suddenly became reluctant to jump up on the bed and I was very worried as I had just read on Eskie specific board of 2 Eskies that had disc related problems and their vets had suggested surgery - so within half an hour I was at the vets - they understood since they had lived through the Dachshund years and have many Dachshund patients. Fortunately, he had just pulled a muscle in his back. But as I look at his long legs I worry about Patellar Luxation and Cruciate Ligament injuries (not to mention blockages as he is a Hoover) with the jaws, teeth and claws of death. I he were to develop ACL or Patellar I would have the surgery done by an ortho. Some regular vets still do the procedures but due to the current trend towards specialization most regular vets have decided to defer to specialists. Our vet now calls in a specialist re "regular" ACL surgeries - performed in her clinic and if the more specialized procedure is called for, they are referred to the specialist licensed to perform that procedure. Often if one leg is affected, the other will follow. I fully understand the financial problems such a surgery would cause, particularly with the health problems in your family and the economy in general, but perhaps you could check out payment options/pet "credit cards" etc. that are offered in U.S. Eskies tend to live a long time and are puppies to the end so your pup has a good chance to live to be 17 and while arthritis is likely to develop, it will be much worse without the surgery. It is true that some dogs do not have the surgery and cope, but not all are so lucky. I really hope that everything works out okay for your fluffbutt.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 1:27PM
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Joepyeweed-I wish animals could talk too! He is barely limping now & I have cut his pain meds from twice a day to once so I am keeping my fingers crossed. If he gets worse I will go for the consult. I am really worried about surgery causing more harm than good & like you said many pets & people live for years without the surgery.
eccentric-- I'm serious about him staying off the furniture. All my dogs know my "no dogs on the furniture rule" but they prefer the area rugs on the wood floor since it is cooler for them (we live in Florida). Now if I could just teach the cats to stay off the furniture, beds, cabinet tops, kitchen table, counters etc...Oh well, I learned years ago to chose my battles LOL

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 8:43PM
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Gosh, I so agree with Meghane. My dog just had surgery for it a few months ago. As Meghane said, it's painful for them. Imagine two bones rubbing back and forth against each other. It will only get worse. It is an expensive proceedure. It cost me $4800.00 but he was worth every penny.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 2:54PM
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Some dogs, depending upon their size, function, age and extent of injury will need surgery - no matter what.

My point is that not all dogs will need the surgery. There is quite a bit of evidence that supports the fact that many of these surgeries may be not be that helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dog Knee surgery

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 3:42PM
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I hope your dog has improved and is walking again without pain.

My big old dog tore her ACL CCL Crucial Ligament torn tendon in her back knee. Too old for surgery.

I also read many many forums of those whose dogs had ACL CCL tendon surgery and it went badly, a nightmare. Or dogs that are under 2 years old, too young as bones and tendons are not fully mature until 2 years old.

I have been reading about Dog Knee Braces. Who has tried a Stifle Brace?
Who did you buy it from and what was your experience?

Brace and or Surgery articles... has an article
Questioning Canine Cruciate Surgery

Thanks anyone for sharing your experience with your dog wearing a Dog Stifle Knee Brace.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 1:05PM
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