ACL surgery in my Golden Retriever

wisroseMarch 10, 2008

Hi All...I'm hoping for some good advice regarding recovery for my dog after her surgery. My Golden had the "nylon thread" surgery performed on her hind leg on Thursday. I am supposed to do Physical therapy exercise 3x a day, it is basically just bending her knee a little bit, done while lying down on her side. She does not like me to do it, I am very gentle and barely bend it. It has been 4 days now and I feel like this really needs to get done but I can't stand the thought of hurting her. What would you do? She is on Tramadol, and the vet said to muzzle her and hold her head down if that's what I need to do. Now I realize how important this is to move the joint but if she is in so much pain I feel I shouldn't push this. MY Question is; What kind of physical therapy have you all had to do for your dogs after ACL surgery and how soon after surgery was it done. Also I am suppose to be walking her for 10 minutes 3x a day for week 1 and move up to 20 minutes week 2...she doesn't want to walk that long. The sidewalks are full of ice so I can only walk her in circles around the driveway. I am so worried and frustrated... I don't know what to do.

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It seems that you are in a tough spot. It also sounds like you need to have a heart to heart with your vet. Your dog is in pain, there simply has to be a way of dealing with this, perhaps by using a pain reliever.

If you haven't already, I would tell your vet, in detail, what is going on and what your concerns are. State that you are concerned about the pain your dog is experiencing and ask for an alternate way of dealing with this. I would also ask if things are not being pushed a bit to fast for your dog.

I've not had to experience this (or any other type of surgery aside from spaying) but I have had numerous health issues to deal with. I now have three large rescue's. I always make my case that I am very close to my dogs and I think I know lots concerning their needs.

You might also research on Google (if you haven't already)the type of surgery your dog had and ways of dealing with it.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:37PM
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One of rotti had ACL surgery on both knees.
My vet never ask me to bend his knee.
And i would not have done it.
Your dog is in pain.
To start PT is way to early.
My vet told me to keep him of his legs for at least a month,
just for the bathroom breaks.
And he was on Demerraxx for pain.
I did not forced my dog to walk.
It was all up to him. It was hard for him to get up also the first two weeks.
Please don't hurt her by doing this.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 2:41PM
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Oh my god...thank you so much for telling me this, it is exactly what I need to hear, She hurts so bad sometimes she justs lays there and shakes. She takes Tramadol for pain, 2pills, 2x a day, that is 12 hours apart, does tramadol last that long? I just gave her 1 of her pills 3hours ahead of time because of the shaking, it hurts me so much to see this. I have never heard of Demerraxx, is it a narcotic like Tramadol? Is there anyone else with post-op instructions from your vet regarding ACL surgery? Texasgirl thank you so much for answering my plea, did your Rotti have the nylon thread technique or that other real expensive technique. How is Rotti doing now?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:31PM
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He has the nylon thread on both knees.
He is doing great.
He is 9 years old and running and jumping like a puppy.
I have to stop him sometimes.
I never heard of Tramadol.
Demerraxx is a bit more expencive but you need less.
Don't remember if it narcotic, you can do a Google check
and get lots of info.
He needed only 1/2 a pill 3x a day.
I know it's a good pain reliever and i would'n give my dogs nothing else.
Just let her knee heal. She let you know when she is ready to walk more each day.
Give her a kiss on the nose from me.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 8:56PM
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The medication is called Deramaxx not Demerraxx. Sorry.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Hi wisrose
How is your golden girl doing??
I hope she feels a little better by know.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 2:39PM
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HI.our golden had this done a few years ago..I dont think I would ever go through it again..she was in so much pain afterward..It took almost a year to recover..Ive heard of different non surgical options if it ever happens in her other leg, which is really common..but during recovery I never had to bend her knee at all..and I wouldnt of done it either


    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 4:56PM
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Tramadol isn't a narcotic actually. It's an excellent pain med, and won't have the side effects of NSAIDs like Deramaxx. So preferable for pain. Agree with the others that your dog is in pain, do talk with your vet about the dosage. I think I'd ask the vet to increase her meds just for today, and get her in for a recheck tomorrow.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 6:22PM
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Tramadol do has a few side-effects.
Upset stomach, Constipation,Panting,even Decreased heart rate.
I like Deramaxx. My dog reacted very good on this Med.
Sometimes when the weather changes he has a little
Arthritis in one of his knees and he don't wanne get up.
I give him a 1/2 Deramaxx and his is fine.
Every dog is different, just like humans.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 7:55PM
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Hi - This is new for me. I have a 9 month old golden who may need knee surgery. Does anyone know if the filament knee surgery works on a golden about 70 lbs? Our vet mentioned the TPLO surgery, but our dog is only 9 months old and I am worried he wouldn't grow right if they cut the bone. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Also I am in South Jersey - any good orthopedic surgeons near us? Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 10:10AM
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The recommendation for which surgery would benefit your dog has a lot to do with the geometry of your individual dog. Doing the filament surgery on a dog with rotated bones will eventually fail, and you'll need to get the TPLO eventually anyway, or at least some surgery that corrects the rotation. There are other surgeries besides the TPLO which correct the geometry problems, such as a wedge osteotomy. The best surgery for your dog is determined by the surgeon.

Generally, the ACL doesn't rupture for no reason. There is usually a geometry problem that causes undue stress on the ligament. Dogs that rupture one ligament are likely to rupture the ACL in the other knee as well, because geometry problems are usually bilateral and congenital. There are some instances where the filament surgery works- for example if the dog experienced a trauma and his geometry is normal. But generally the filament is under the same stress as the ligament was, and unless that stress is corrected it usually fails eventually. At least, that's what the orthopods at school say.

Here's a link to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons website. It has a link you can follow to search for a board certified surgeon in your area. It's a good place to start. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: ACVS

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 7:30PM
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Thanks for the info. What about getting an MRI to make sure that he has a torn ligament? He walks and runs around and maybe twice a day will lift that back leg a little and then limp for a few steps and then he is fine again. I hate to operate on him if there is a chance it is not torn. Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 4:01PM
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Sedation and physical exam is the best way to tell if the ligament is torn. If the ligament is torn, then there is a movement called a "drawer" that is possible. If the ligament is intact, it prevents the drawer movement. Sedation is usually necessary because otherwise the dog has too much muscular resistance. It would also allow a better evaluation of the patella, in case a luxating patella is the problem. But save your $1200 for the MRI- a PE with sedation is all that is necessary.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 4:55PM
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Do NOT allow anyone to sedate your dog and then manipulate the stifle for drawer movement. It is not necessary and can cause further damage because the dog may not be able to display a pain response. My vet made this claim as well, but the ortho was able to diagnose easily with the right movement.

Tramadol is a good pain medicine, I take it daily for chronic back pain, but it really just takes the edge off, does not eliminate pain. I've given my dog some (following appropriate dosing guidelines, of course) for his knee, but he does not exhibit noticeable relief. I would think something a bit stronger would be appropriate for post-op.

I am researching TPLO and possibly the TightRope method for my 6 year old 85 lb lab, but am interested in learning about non-surgical options. I think it's hard to get a truly objective opinion from a vet or ortho who has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and staffing.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 3:03PM
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We opted not to have surgery for my older dog when he tore his ACL.

I think it requires a specific set of circumstances to make the decision. My dog's tear was a result of a specific event and not the result of bone position. My dog was older and not extremely active.

Mainly the treatment was anti-inflammatories, pain relievers and restricted mobility. He was crated or kept on leash at all times for about two weeks to minimize any running or jumping. He limped for about a week.. then he didn't limp at all after that...

Here is a link that might be useful: Past post about ACL non-surgical options

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 5:07PM
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My dog has had the TPLO surgery 3 weeks ago. She is a Staffy X Kelpie, 2 1/2 years old and she is full of energy. The day we picked her up from surgery she was already weight bearing so we have had to really keep her locked up and making sure she doesnt run or jump. But its been 3 weeks now and she is ready to bolt!
This surgery from my own experience and from all other research I have looked in to, is by far the best option for dogs over 20kg or for dogs who are very active. I am very pleased with it but still need to wait for up to 8 weeks for the bone to heal.

Does anyone know if short lead walks are ok earlier on before 8 weeks, I know my dog can handle it but dont know whether she should be!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:49AM
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We had Tightrope surgery done on our 90 lb Akita 4 years ago. She was only 4 years old at the time, but I thought the TPLO was way too invasive.
A week after surgery, the cast came off & we started 10 min walks 3-4 times a day, Never left the yard. we did put a ramp up the steps - they didn't want her doing any steps for 3-4 months. also had to keep her off the couch (no jumping) - so I had garbage bags of empty soda bottles that we would put on the couch to keep her off. Got quite a few comments & looks fromvisitors :)
We gave her Tramadol for the pain - which worked just fine. The vet also suggested water therapy. I couldn't find anywhere in my area for this - so we went to the lake 3-4 times per week & she swam.
Now - 4 years later, she doesn't seem to have any problems. Walks fine, runs & jumps -but on cold mornings, she is a little stiff until she gets moving.
All of the food & treats I give her are loaded with glucosamine & omega 3, which I believe has contributed to her recovery & maintenance.
We still swim as often as we can.
Kita is pure white & is still my lovable polar bear.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:58PM
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our Labradoodle had to have surgery for a torn ACL. Went in for the operation and had to stay overnight. Her recovery was for three months, she was to stay off of it, only allowed to get up for food and bathroom breaks and then back into her cage or if she laid, for example by the living room table then we tied her to it so she could not get up. I made a sling that went under her belly so I could take any pressure off of her when she walked or had to go down the three stairs to go outside. We did this for three months and she is now absolutely able to be a normal running dog again. You would never know she had a problem. She was given the Deramaxx for the first ten days and didn't need it after that. She has a titanium plate on the knee now. hope all is working out with your fur baby....

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 3:39PM
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A relatively new surgery is available nowadays that involves drilling a few holes in the bones, and using a kevlar strap to hold everything in place. The kevlar material is similar to what is now used in a lot of human joint surgeries and seems to have a much better life span than most sutures that have been used in the past for ACLs (those not fixed with TPLO or TTA). This newer method is far less invasive and costly (no bone cutting and not metal implants) than the bone sawing and metallic-brace surgeries most popular for ACLs now... so far it seems to be working out well, but in a few years we will know for sure.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 7:22PM
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how timely! my Mocha just had acl surgery as well. I had a "aero bed" that I inflated and put down for him to rest on. It's just killing him that he can't jump on the sofa or our bed to take his daily naps. Mocha is 10 yrs old (an aussie). He wants to play so badly but doesn't seem to recognize that he isn't able to right now.

The aero bed is acting like a ground-level sleep-number bed for him (LUCK DOG! I can't even afford a sleep number for msyelf!).

Also, just before his surgery on his ACL, I got him groomed and shaved down. Its making for much more grooming ease and helps with seeing how his injury is progressing.

Its killing us to keep him immobile as much as he should be -- he still has that aussie energy. However, our vet did give us some valium to help make him drowsier throughout his recovery period.

I would welcome tips on what everyone else has done (or is doing) to make this recovery period easier.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 3:15AM
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My 8 year old Lab had her first surgery on 4/14/12 and the second on 9/28/12. Yes less then 6 months apart. After the first one we done laser therapy cause she wouldn't touch the floor with it for 4-5 weeks. I know she was on Rimadyl and Tramadol. The Rimadyl caused liver levels to go up so they put her on Novox. After the second one they put her on Gabapentin and Novox. Novox raised liver levels too so now she's on Gabapentin and Tramadol. We started laser therapy on Oct.8 and after that she would not walk on her back legs at all till the next day. Did laser on Oct. 13 (today) and same thing. So first thing in the morning I will be calling the Vet. A friend that works at a Vet's office said she was in savior pain. So Gab. and Tram. are not strong enough for this. When she first started doing this it freaked us out cause we didn't understand why the laser was doing this. They never said anything about Physical therapy exercise. But I have been massaging both legs. I have looked up pain meds. for dogs and ACL surgery so many times it's not funny. I'm praying tomorrow we have her on something stronger.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 1:16AM
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I hope your Golden has improved and is walking again without pain.

My Golden tore her ACL CCL Crucial Ligament torn tendon in her back knee.

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?

I read very helpful info at

and VeterinaryPracticeNews has an article Questioning Canine Cruciate Surgery


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

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 12:43PM
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