Cruciate Ligament Injury in a Small Dog?

Question by llibmum: Cruciate ligament injury in a small dog?
I have a mongrel dog jack russell/king charles cross who injured her cruciate ligament exactly a year ago. Took her to vets for a costly operation and she recovered really well. Sadly though she has started limping again and cant seem to put her foot to the ground very well. She is 13 years old and part of the family and I dont want to put her through another operation. Anyone any info on this, is it really painful for the dog and what can I do to help her.
Not sure what non-surgical rehab consists of. She only got a year out of her operation and I wouldnt want to go down that route again.

Best answer:

Answer by woerden
I had a giant breed dog (Great Dane) who, after a tiny limp, was recommended by an expert in that field to have bi-lateral TPLO surgery ($ 6,500).

Now, granted, she had a barely perceptible limp, and was back to looking perfect about a week after the diagnosis of a partial CCL tear in one stifle. By the time her first surgery date rolled around, she’d already spent several weeks without any signs of pain or discomfort (although kept on exercise restriction). I just couldn’t go for such a radical surgical procedure when she was, for all intents and purposes, perfect. So, after a great deal of research, I opted for non-surgical rehab. (Something that many suggest is “impossible” for giant breed dogs…Yet something I knew was entirely possible, considering my own partial ACL tear that healed without any medical treatment whatsoever.) She was 8-years-old at the time, and never had another problem with her stifles for the rest of her life.

The cost wasn’t at all an issue for me. …Would’ve paid any amount… But it is a factor for some.

That said, your dog does have much more severe symptoms. I’d say the best bet is to have a discussion with your veterinarian about options. A good surgical prognosis could mean several more years of pain-free activity for your small dog, while non-surgical rehab may be just as effective. If you don’t feel like you can talk about these issues freely with your veterinarian, find another one. You should feel comfortable telling your veterinarian anything, from financial concerns, to worry about your dog’s physical and emotional well-being.

Good luck!

EDIT: “non-surgical rehab” essentially means physiotherapy. What I did with my dog was primarily exercise restriction, gradually allowing slightly more and more activity each day/week. In total, I did that for about 6 months from the time of diagnosis.

Exercise restriction consists of starting from zero. In the initial stage, you don’t permit the dog to do anything but walk from its sleeping area to it’s water/food dish, and outdoors, just to potty. If you can help it walk (with a sling, if the limping is bad) then do so. Once the dog can walk a bit better, gradually allow it to do so a wee bit more, each day.

You keep a close eye on the dog, to see if it’s showing any signs of stiffness or discomfort during or after exercise. If so, you stay at that level of exercise or reduce it for awhile, until the dog is no longer demonstrating those signs. Then, begin gradually increasing exercise again. Keep it limited to simple walking. No running or jumping until you’re well along the road to recovery. Swimming would be ideal, if you have access. (We didn’t, really. I mean, I could have, but I opted not to bother.)

In your case, you had surgery. There are a couple of procedures you might have had done. The popular ones utilize a wire to stabilize the stifle joint. Since the dog is limping, it would be important to have the joint radiographed, to make sure there hasn’t been some sort of failure. You may also be able to see if arthritis is developing.

Barring another surgery, a veterinarian might recommend exercise restriction for a period of time, then gradually allowing short amounts of walking, building up to normal activity. He/she may also recommend supportive therapy like glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. A daily NSAID, such as Metacam/meloxicam, might be a short or long-term recommendation.

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