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Erin

Torn ACL--Any experiences with this? (in dogs! ;)

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Baxter is 7 1/2 years old. As a working cow dog, he's had his share of kicks, bumps and bruises. So when he would occasionally gimp around, we just wrote it off as the latest in the series.

Until last week that is when he refused to climb the stairs.

 

Of course that made red flags go up for my husband and I. That's when I started putting things together (the limping, the "bunny hopping" in the back, etc), did some 'net research and thought we probably had a classic example of hip dysplasia. It was nice that it had waited to so long to surface.

 

Just took him to the vet this morning who tells me he thinks it's more likely to be a torn ACL. No, he didn't do x-rays because he said examing the hips he didn't really think there was anything at all back there that was wrong. Just the ACL.

 

He mentioned that like people, dogs often will get a surgical repair for this, but that recovery was kind of questionable. He said he's known younger dogs that bounced back really well and older dogs that couldn't keep from just tearing it up again.

Either way, there's only one vet in the area (100 miles away) that does surgeries like this. We're considering getting a second opinion from him (and our vet suggested we might want to do so). But, for now, we have him on aspirin and glucosamine/chondrointin supplements.

 

Has anyone else dealt with this? What was the success of the surgery (or lack thereof)? Did they ever go back to work?

It's not a terrible tragedy for *us* if he never works again (he's currently flopped on his back, half propped up against the couch with his nose wedged under it... sound asleep) but it always breaks Baxter's heart when my husband heads out on horseback without him. We were hoping to work him long enough to get a younger dog going, but if that's not to be, that's okay, too.

 

Anyway, any thoughts or ideas are welcome!

 

Thanks

 

Erin

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Guest hdk9s

Well, I have seen a lot of them. The vet I worked for in CA, had a Ortho surgeon some in to do our surgeries. It would be well drive. His success is great. Most dogs go back to working, showing, hunting after the recoop time.

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Well we are about the get the surgery for our 7 yr old Akita mix. She weighs in at about 90 lbs plus, but is not a working dog by any means. I also talked to a woman who recently had the surgery for her 7 y/o dog, a Lab, and said she did quite well, an recoverd as good as new. My vet said we did not have to do the surgery. Sitka could probably get around fine without depending on her right hind leg, but as she gets older and the chance of anything happening to her other leg, we are opting for the surgery. I really don't want to do this to her, but she looks so pitiful holding up her leg, and when she does throw caution to the wind and plays with Phoenix (our almost 6 mos old BC), she really favors it alot, later in the day and all the next day. Our Dr. said the surgery is pretty routine these days, and she is otherwise healthy, sooooo I suppose we will go ahead and do it.

We always go to Va. Tech. Animal Hospital for anything serious, which is a 5-6 hr drive for us, but they have the specialists and they are a teaching hospital and I swear by their care and expertise.

Good luck with your dog.

JoeAnne Mirra, Sitka, Phoenix and crew

JoeAnne Mirra, Sitka, Phoenix and crew

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oooooops!!! there really is only one group of

JoeAnne, Mirra, Sitka Phoenix and crew...(of which my husband is grateful!!! L O L !!!

don't know how that happened!

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My Labrador Retriever had a Tibial Plateu Leveling Osteotomy for his torn ACL in 2002. His recovery went smoothly, and he is able to use that leg as if nothing had ever happened.

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My mum's Yorkie fell off the step (a 6 inch drop) and tore his Acl. The surgery was very successful and Spike is back at his work - keeping my mum active and letting her know when the phone rings, kettle boils etc.

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Whether you have the surgery done is a personal decision, but a second opinion is a good idea. I know of working dogs who have had TPLO and have done quite well afterward, but then I have heard of problems with the surgery too. You need to gather as much good *veterinary* information as you can about your options and then make an informed decision (that is, we're good for anecdotal information here, but for decision-making purposes you might want to do more in-depth research).

 

It would also help to know if it's a compete tear or a partial tear, as that may have a bearing on your decision as well.

 

Whether you decide to go the conservative route and try to let it heal without surgery or have some sort of surgery done (I believe there's another surgery option besides the TPLO), the success of recovery will depend largely on your willingness to do the physical therapy that is the required follow up.

 

The advantage of surgery over conservative treatment (no surgery) is that once the repair is made on that ACL, it's not going to tear again. The disadvantage is that there is a school of thought that believes the surgical repair may result in additional strain on other ligaments in the joint and put them at greater risk for injury. I don't know enough about either side to give you good information.

 

For one of my open trial dogs with a partial tear I went the conservative route with *lots* of physical therapy and had her running in open again within 6 months after diagonosis (I say after diagnosis because there's a strong possibility that the partial tear actually occurred during a prior accident, but because of injury to her hip at that time, the ACL went unnoticed). I have a friend whose dog tore his ACL and she had the TPLO done. She also followed the physical therapy protocol, and her dog is again working, also within 6 months of the surgery. Both of these dogs were 7 or older at the time of the injury.

 

So the best advice I can give is to get a second opinion, and maybe even a third from someone who wouldn't have a vested interest in telling you to do the surgery (i.e., a vet you trust or is recommended to you who is not the orthopedic surgeon). Review the costs of the various options and the effort that will be required on your part to get your dog back working and then make your decision. If there is a vet school anywhere near you, consider getting a referral for a second opinion and perhaps even the surgery if you plan to go that route. No matter who you talk to, make sure they understand that this is a working dog and that you depend on him to help on the farm. Vets often give advice based on the large part of their market, which are pet owners, and may have different advice for working/performance dogs.

 

**Note: One HUGE no no for dogs with injured ACLs is going up and down stairs. If there is no way around the use of stairs, try to build a small ramp, or carry your dog up and down. Even when the dog is feeling better (after surgery or crate rest or whatever), do not allow him to run up and down stairs--once he is doing better, he can be allowed to take stairs, but should be made to walk.

 

Hope that helps some.

 

J.

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