Dog injury: I could use a Vet's opinion

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by BarkerChickens, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    My dog has a partially torn ACL. The injury is due to impact. She is at a healthy weight (55 lbs) and very muscular (Australian Shepherd/pit bull mix). Our regular vet (great vet!) referred us to a specialist. We met with the specialist today and she does not recommend surgery for our dog since she is 10 yrs old and in great athletic shape. Another reason why surgery is not the first option is that Casey is hyper (she thinks she is a puppy in a 10 yr old body) and to keep her down for an extended period of time for recovery is not going to be easy. She says that she can tell that Casey's (our dog) leg muscles are stabalizing her knee well and that with conservative treatment, Casey's torn ACL should heal fine. She said to let Casey stay active since she is in such great physical shape, so that her legs won't atrophy and potentially allow for further injury. This is, of course, opposite from what our regular vet stated; however, both agree that they cannot get Casey's knee to slip due to her muscle mass. Both vets' recommend Fish Oils and Glucosamine/Condroitin supplements. I am fine with all of the above with some hesitation on her activity (oh, the injury is now 2.5 mos old and has not worsened nor gotten better). Oh, the vet can feel the healing scar tissue and Casey does NOT have fluid on the knee. The vet also recommends laser therapy and regular leg massage to stimulate healing.

    What I am not sure about is the Laser Therapy. Is it helpful or will we be wasting money? I have looked online for resources and it seems helpful, but I am not yet convinced either way. Does anyone have experience with Laser Therapy in general or with cruciate ligament injuries?

    I want Casey to heal, but I don't want to take someone's word on something and later find out that it was more detrimental than helpful to Casey's knee. This dog is VERY active and this knee injury is getting in the way of her play time [​IMG] (she gets antsy very easily).
  2. farrier!

    farrier! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2009
    Southern Illinois
    Not a vet but I have been very involved with horse injuries for decades, both ours and clients.

    Ligaments take months to a year or more to heal. There is little or no blood flow to them. You need blood flow for healing to happen. Lasers and all other therapies are an attempt to increase blood flow and lessen healing time.

    Time is the best healer. I have not been impressed with what I have seen with anything used to increase blood flow, laser, ultrasound and others. Healing seems to take just as long. These therapies seem to help the owner feel like they are doing something to help in a situation that simply needs months and months to heal.
  3. lockedhearts

    lockedhearts It's All About Chicken Math

    Apr 29, 2007
    I agree with Farrier, our recently deceased Cocker Spaniel tore his ACL a few years ago, same position older not a candidate for surgery. We could not afford the therapy, but since I had experience with torn supensories in horses I treated myself. I used DMSO and time. He was fine , unfortunately Cancer ended up taking him but he was good for 3 or 4 years after the ACL injury. You could use Magnetic THerapy, results vary, if you can find someone with a magnetic set up for horses (they have large and small items for horses) that you could borrow it would be a lot cheaper than therapy.
  4. Whispering Winds

    Whispering Winds Chillin' With My Peeps

    All I can say about cold laser therapy from working at a chiropractor, is its amazing what it can do for the human body. I saw people with chronic pain who had suffered for years happy to get up in the mornings after the laser therapy. Good luck!
  5. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    I could see it working for pain management and DH used it to help quite smoking before, but healing healing an ACL seems iffy to me. [​IMG]
  6. BarbK

    BarbK Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2007
    I have not been around the laser therapy so I can't comment on that.
    Like farrier stated ligament damages take forever to heal. So if Doc. is feeling scar tissue great. The body is doing its job.
    Massage does a lot towards helping the body heal. I would highly recommend it.
    Sounds like your specialist is on track. I would listen to her. Also talk to her/him about you hesitations to use the laser therapy. See if she will give you case examples of patients that she has treated. That way you can find out how it has worked on her other patients.
    Physical therapy is an up and coming form of treatment in the industry. A lot of the things you see in human therapy will/is used in animal therapy.
    Massage, low impact excersise (in the water), manually manipulating the limbs....
  7. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Not a vet here either but in the past 6 months I have had two dogs tear their ACL. The first dog was 9 years old. The specialist we saw immediately wanted to schedule TPLO, the bone cutting surgery. That was a huge NO for me. We went to another vet who did the traditional extracapsular "fishing line" repair technique. This is where the joint is stabilized with a strong material that performs the same action that the ligament did. The leg then forms scar tissue over that. She was our ranch dog and an active Queensland Heeler mix. She did extremely well, her leg was stabilized and she was able to use it without discomfort. Unfortunately I lost her to thyroid cancer a few weeks ago.

    The second dog is my 2 1/2 year old Rottie. Had the same procedure done two weeks ago and he is doing extremely well.

    I have no experience with laser therapy, this was never mentioned to me by any of my vets.

    The torn ligament will never truly "heal", the dog is always going to be lame in that leg. What will happen is scar tissue will form and will help stabilize the joint. The problem with conservative management is that many times severe arthritis sets in later no matter what supplements or therapy you use. This was why I made the decision to do the repair in my 9 year old dog. But she had a complete tear, was in a lot of pain and unable to use the leg at all. If a dog was using the leg somewhat, had good muscling and was building up scar tissue I might be more tempted to leave it.

    It's a hard decision. One you will have to make based on your dogs current quality of life and use of the leg. If she is healthy and active she could easily have 5 or 6 years ahead of her yet. I definitely would never recommend the TPLO for an older dog but there certainly are other techniques out there that will stabilze the joint and improve the situation.

    Sorry for the long ramble, just wanted to share my experience with this with you. Best of luck to you!
  8. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    Quote:You weren't rambling. [​IMG] I greatly appreciate you telling me your experience. If surgery was recommended, it'd be scheduled already. TPLO is EXPENSIVE (between $4000 and $4500)! Casey can use her leg since it is a partial tear; she just limps after resting (it's stiff) and after running around. If it was a complete tear, I think surgery would be the best option. But, given that it is a partial and that she is muscular (the knee is not slipping), I am fine with conservative treatment. Of course I'd rather not spend the money, but really the money isn't the issue with the laser therapy. We were expecting surgery, so it really is cheaper. I just don't want to spend money on something that isn't gonna work.

    The Vet said that Casey'll likely get arthritis in that knee regardless if we do conservative therapy or surgery. The risk with surgery on Casey isn't so much her body (she is VERY healthy and doesn't act her age. She's only mildly less active now than she was when she was a puppy!). The risk is that it will be nearly impossible to keep such an active and hyper dog down for the length of the recovery period and she may not return to her previous activity level afterward (which will end up aging her).
  9. aggieterpkatie

    aggieterpkatie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2009
    My 50 lb Airedale mix partially tore his ACL when he was 10. The vet said surgery was an option, but I decided against it. It was expensive, it wasn't guaranteed to work, and it would place more strain on his other knee while he was healing. I got pain meds for him to manage the pain. A LOT of rest and about 6 months later and he was good to go. I didn't let him run or jump on anything (no couches, no beds, etc. ) while it healed. He's now almost 14 and still doing good. He's got arthritis issues in his whole back end, but not really the knee.
  10. sgtmom52

    sgtmom52 Birds & Bees

    My sister's Rottweiler/Dalmatian mix, Sadie, tore her ALC when she was 9 years old. She did opt for the surgery (I believe it was the "fishing line" one). She healed well and had an active life until she passed away several years ago at the ripe old age of 15.

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