Hey everyone, posting this because I could not find any stories with this particular complication on the web.
I have an 8? year old rescued lab/pitt/dane? neutered male who weighs about 80 lbs. Initially presented with intermittent lameness on both sides (alternating) which finally made its source abundantly clear when he came in from playing with a non-weight-bearing right rear leg.
After much agonizing and research, I decided to go with the TPLO procedure to give him the best shot at returning to his normal self. Domino is a pogo stick. He has literally cleared 6ft kennels from a standstill. He jumped into my TALL 3/4 ton pickup, while the tailgate was closed. He loves to hike more than anything.
Surgery went well on June 12th. He came out of it fine…my ortho vet keeps the dogs for a week after surgery to head off most complications. I go to pick Domino up on the 18th, and while I am getting ready to lift him into the truck, he slides past me and jumps for it. He was on a leash…but he panics when he thinks I am going to leave him anywhere and I just wasn’t fast enough. Anyway, he misses, lands on his back legs, both buckle, and he falls to the ground. I am just sick to my stomach. He gets up after a minute, still walking on both back legs. The tech and I check him out, and he appears to be alright.
By the time we get home, he is starting to favor his left leg…the one he did not have surgery on. By 10pm that night, he is no longer willing to bear weight on the leg. He is now walking solely on his freshly surgical right leg. The left one hangs in the air. I know what the problem is already – he tore his other CCL. I call the clinic, they say up his Deramaxx and see if it helps by morning.
By the next day, he doesn’t want to walk at all. I can get him outside with a towel sling, but he refuses to urinate. If I remove the sling to encourage him to go, he collapses to the ground and lays there. I call the vet clinic, and they tell me they are going to need to x-ray him to make sure he didn’t hurt anything else. During this time, he is only on Deramaxx for pain. He is crated and I have to go to work, but I make an appointment for the following day.
By the time I get home on the night of the 19th, he absolutely refuses to move. He is panting and shaking, and I can tell he’s in pain. I call the clinic in an absolute panic, and they tell me to give him 100 mg of Tramadol. (I take it occasionally for back pain, but am more than willing to share with him.) I want to take him in, but I live in a rural area and the clinic is almost 2 hrs away since we have construction detours. They won’t stay open. (I was really pissed about that.)
I pill him immediately (about 4pm), and within about an hour he seems much more comfortable. He goes to sleep, and I give him another 100 mg at midnight. He sleeps the night through, but still hasn’t gone to the bathroom in over 24 hours. I am on the clinics doorstep when they open at 7:30 am. They do xrays, confirm that the surgical repair is fine, and a VERY positive drawer sign on his left leg confirms what I already knew. Domino is much happier with his pain management at this point, and willingly stands on the leg that had surgery – still non-weight-bearing on the left leg with its new tear.
The vet had discussed with several other ortho docs, and they determined that the best thing to do would be immediate surgery on the second leg. I asked about a brace, and had three docs tell me it was a bad idea. The brace stiffens the leg, which can change their gait, causing twisting on the fresh TPLO surgery. They said it’s safer to get the other leg done, and let the dog split their weight between the two back legs.
Had I known this was going to happen, I would have definitely done both legs at the same time. Domino makes no noise when he is in pain…you first figure out that he is having major issues when he refuses to move and starts panting. All three vets missed the signs that the second ligament was severely compromised, and I was too inexperienced to know what I was looking at. I also think that his pain management protocol was severely lacking. They said normally they are very careful about pain management because it can fool the dog into thinking they are healthier than they really are. They did not reckon with the fact that once Domino got home and relaxed, he couldn’t work through the pain he was in. He needed the narcotics.
I would tell other owners, if your dog is not getting around well on 3 legs after tearing one cruciate, if you ever see them get up and literally try to stand only on their front legs (lifting both back feet off the ground by arching their back), and if they collapse at any point before surgery while out playing (even if they get back up), you may want to consider a dual TPLO and save yourself significant costs in anesthesia and drugs.
I recognize that this was my fault as well for not realizing he would panic and jump for the truck, but I have no guarantee that this wouldn’t have happened at some other point in his recovery.
Second surgery is tomorrow morning, and I am so worried that he won’t be able to get around even after the second surgery…I will update information after I get it.
Update After Second TPLO Surgery
Things went great with his second surgery – he is more willing to walk on the first leg and toe touching on the second one…he’s apparently managed to go potty too. Hoping he stabilizes enough to come home on Thursday! The vet clinic is having trouble getting him to eat…he goes on hunger strikes when I leave him. Normally not a problem because after three days he finally gives up, but after so much surgery he needs the calories.