Torn ACL in Dog

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by bantamamba, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. bantamamba

    bantamamba Songster

    Jan 17, 2010
    Left our three year-old Saint Bernard mix out for three hours while we ran errands. Return to find her favouring her right hind leg. Turns out she tore her ACL and now needs a $3,000 surgery to shave her bone down and install some hardware.

    [​IMG]: [​IMG]: [​IMG]:

    So we're going to try and take out a loan.

    Does anyone have any experience with this?

    Edit: Wrong place, move if necessary.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  2. scbatz33

    scbatz33 No Vacancy, Belfry Full

    Jan 23, 2009
    South GA
    Our dog fell out of a truck at 75 mph. Tore his ACL. They told us we had to do surgery. We did not. He lived for another 4 years before his kidneys gave up.

    We kept him on drugs and rest for the first week or so. Then we took him off the drugs cause he felt good and would over do it. After that, he was very good and knew his limits. Even with two other dogs in the house.

    He would get stiff, especially in the rain or if he over exerted himself. But a bit of baby asprin and he was fine.
  3. HennyJenny

    HennyJenny Songster

    Dec 26, 2009
    Bennington, NE
    My Mom's little Bichon had this surgery - it wasn't totally successful - my brother's much bigger dog also had it after jumping out of a pick up truck and they had continual issues with the cast on the big dog. It is a very expensive surgery and I'm wondering if seeking out a second opinion on having it done on what I would assume is a pretty big dog might be a good idea. Maybe there are some other options?

    I'm sorry this happened - sometimes it's very hard to know what to do with an injured pet. And like it or not sometimes money has to be part of that decision. I'm sorry you're faced with it.

  4. bantamamba

    bantamamba Songster

    Jan 17, 2010
    At the moment she is basically three-legged lame. We were given doggie pain pills, but I can tell it hurts her a lot...the x-rays show her joint has slid way back out of place and is stuck there. I don't think I'd be comfortable making her live the rest of 9+ years she has left with a knee in that she is a bit of a retard and already bounces around on it, only to favour it even more afterward. [​IMG] In this situation the best thing for her is the surgery.

    We're doing something called "Care Credit"...seems alright. I am reminded of when I got quite ill during the interim between insurance companies and had to convince the county I was more or less homeless to pay for an $8,000+ hospital bill...

    I love this dog to death but she ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. For a while now she has insisted on crawling underneath the self-hung hammock, pile of kayaks, and through the chicken wire we mounted (to keep her from doing this, but she tore it down anyway) on the back porch, just to get to the side run, instead of simply using the stairs...perhaps that is how she hurt herself.
  5. bantamamba

    bantamamba Songster

    Jan 17, 2010
    Quote:Thank you. We might search for another opinion, but as I mentioned, the x-rays are proof enough that it's pretty bad. I like this vet place a lot, we've been with them for years...none of the others in this area seem to have a very good rep.

    Luckily she isn't too large...longer than tall.

    She's always been more of an indoor dog and usually loathes being left outside alone for more than twenty minutes. So I'm not all that surprised that she went and did this to herself after a three hour stint. [​IMG]


    It doesn't help that my mother and her SO are just about to take out a mortgage for a new house. I believe her credit is good enough though for two consecutive loans...
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  6. equine623

    equine623 Songster

    Mar 17, 2009
    NE PA
    I feel your pain, having had a dog with a torn CL. I also literally feel the dog's pain, having a torn ACL myself. First, x ray won't show the tendons or ligaments, the torn ligament is diagnosed through a specific motion test called "drawer" motion as well as clinical signs. MRI can diagnose too. The "Drawer" test is often not conclusive until the dog is under anesthesia as the tense muscles inhibit the forward motion of the leg that comes from the torn ligament no longer supporting the patella. If they are basing the diagnosis off an x ray, I would be a little leery. Soft tissue doesn't radiograph well. Are you certain it isn't a patella luxation? That would be seen on x ray, torn CL would not be.

    Here's what to expect. The surgery is expensive, as you know. Best case is to be referred to an orthopedist, don't let someone without a LOT of experience muck around in a joint. Too much risk. Expect to go home with a painful dog, expect extensive rehab in order to have a successful outcome. Swimming is ideal once stitches or staples are out. Recovery is harder if the animal is overweight. Depending on personality, it can be hard to keep the dog quiet as much as will be necessary, so be prepared with plenty of things to chew, etc to keep her occupied.

    Understand the risks....most importantly is that in roughly 65% of cases (and that's a low estimate, honestly) the other leg will also blow its ligament within the next few years. So you may be doing this all over again in 6 months, or 3 years, but chances are good you will be doing it again.

    I'm not trying to discourage you, just want to make sure you are as educated as possible. She will most likely always be painful on that leg, the arthritis will eventually form particularly if the surgeon is not painstaking in his/her efforts to cut away ALL of the torn ligament, any small piece left behind will irritate the joint capsule.

    FYI I'm a vet tech, I've worked for a vet who did CCL surgeries (because in dogs its often the cranial ligament, not the anterior as in people) almost daily with great success. I'm not a vet, I'm not an expert, but I wouldn't butt in if I didn't feel like I could offer something useful to the conversation.

    Good luck. Its not an easy call. Don't rush into anything.
  7. bantamamba

    bantamamba Songster

    Jan 17, 2010
    Thank you for your input, equine623...[​IMG]
    I did forget to mention...yes, Molly was sedated so the muscles were relaxed, and the Drawer Test was performed. The x-rays showed the wonky position of the cap and the swelling. It's definitely the ACL.

    She prefers laying around and sleeping most of the day, only gets exuberant when initially let outdoors to go potty or on walks. Everything about having to keep her as quiet as possible was explained to well as the possibility of her blowing the other ligament. [​IMG] Would the swimming need to be in chlorinated water?

    My mother is thinking she can pay 1500 from the loan, and her boyfriend can cover the rest. We are looking to sell our little classic MG so perhaps that can help as well.

    We were told the surgeon here has had a lot of success with these injuries. Of course none of this is very comforting at all, but...hey, we can tighten our belts and help a family member out. It's either this or she'll be put down, and we're not quite ready to consider that yet.

    Can you tell me a bit more about what you experienced with your dog? Did you need consecutive surgeries? I am also personally familiar with large knee injuries, although nothing involving the ACL, fortunately...they are utter crap to deal with.
  8. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

    Nov 6, 2009
    I had this happen to a pregnant Rottie we brought over from Germany.

    One minute she was trotting through the park and the next she was pulling her foot out of a gopher hole.

    Since I had to wait till the pups were born and weaned I kept her from jumping, running. NO STAIRS! and I always give ACV to my animals and rubbed the leg down with Arnica gell a couple times a day as well as giving Arnica tablets (tiny little things).

    She limped for a couple of months, then the limp eased up. Within 6 months it was healed. No surgery.

    Same thing worked for a couple of different friends, so I know it works.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  9. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Songster

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    My poodle has had a torn ACL for over 5 years now. Somedays he limps on 3 legs, but mostly he walks just fine. Doesn't seem to be in pain at all. Of course, this is a small dog and he gets around well. He even gets up on the couch and jumps off too.

    My sister's german shorthair hunting dog had the surgery done for her dog. The surgeon told her that a torn ACL is becomming extremely common because dogs are becoming overweight and out of shape. He pretty much said if a dog is a "couch potato" then it becomes tricky, as far as the healing process after surgery. Her dog was a paid/trained hunter and in top physical condition and recovered with no problems at all. Good luck to you and I'm sorry your cutie got hurt. Hope if all works out well.
  10. bantamamba

    bantamamba Songster

    Jan 17, 2010
    I've heard good things about ACV...I put it the horse's water to keep mozzies from spawning in there and balance their Ph, not sure what good it does for the joints, however.

    Despite loving her naps, she's pretty fit and not at all overweight. We think she got the foot caught in the fence or something and panicked.

    I know people say their dogs have healed without surgery...but I do not want to unwittingly make her live in pain...

    Hmm. As we speak, mother unit is arguing with her boyfriend (who wants us to seriously consider putting her down). Of course even as a 21 year-old adult myself my own opinion won't matter. He's thinking about the money...yes, he just bought a $2000 top for his truck. Right now $3000 doesn't seem like much when I look at this dog who has only given us her complete adoration and loyalty for the three years we've had her, since her rescue from a hoarder. We've paid off larger debts...the vet didn't sugar coat anything, but she was incredibly optimistic about it all as well.

    Thanks everyone for the good thoughts...I think we can use them.

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