I created this website to be all about the experience. The experiences we go through as owners of dogs with knee ligament injuries, and the experiences our dogs go through as a result of tearing their CCL. As a result of my experience I have been through both a Traditional Repair surgery and successful round of Conservative Management. The best advice I can offer to anyone considering Conservative Management with their dog is this – listen to your dog.
Many veterinarians, for one reason or another, are quick to jump the gun on surgery. Surgery is not the “quick fix” many people tout it to be. The surgical procedure and recovery process are long, painful, difficult and financially taxing for many dogs and their owners. Don’t feel pressured to have your dog go under the knife if you want to first try CM. You are not doing your dog any injustice by giving them the chance to heal on their own. The option for surgery is always there if you need it, but if you’re willing to give an alternative approach to healing a dog ACL tear a try, CM can be a successful route.
Overview of My Conservative Management Dog ACL Plan:
- Weight Management – Our first step in getting our American Bulldog’s weight down was to begin cutting out treats and snacks. I started making my own dog treats using a simple recipe with peanut butter as the main ingredient. Making the treats myself allowed me to make smaller sized treats, which I began gradually feeding less of. We also made the transition to a higher quality food, and once he was adjusted to the food we cut his portion size down by 1/3, continuing to feed him twice per day. With less weight on the injured leg it will give your dog a better shot at recovery.
- Inflammation – When Tucker first started showing signs of lameness in this injured leg we began giving him Rimadyl. Knowing we did not want to keep him on a NSAID for a long period of time, we immediately began looking for a more holistic option for inflammatory control. Along with the Rimadyl we started giving Omege 3 Fish Oil – one, 1000 mg capsule, twice per day. After 1 month of the Rimadyl I transitioned to Yucca Intensive, and give 9-10 drops diluted in food twice per day.
- Joint Support - A number of veterinary studies have shown that Glucosamine and Chondrointin supplements are good to support joint health in any dog. Many people believe different brands of supplements show different results, so plan on experimenting with a number of different brands to see what works best for your dog. Ask around at your veterinarian’s office or pet food store to see if they have any samples for you to try as you’re finding which product works best.
- Rest – This is often easier said then done, but it is extremely important to make sure your dog stays in a confined area without distraction. Carpeted areas are best if at all possible. Try to avoid steps, steep hills, jumping, running, rough play or anything that may create a jerking motion in the leg such as jumping up into a car or into a pool.
- Prevent Boredom – Get creative with ways to entertain your dog while they are taking it easy and recovering. Toys such as frozen kongs filled with peanut butter or bully sticks are a good way to help them alleviate boredom.
- Exercise – Keep exercise to a minimum, but take care to avoid muscle atrophy. Controlled, leash walking a few times per day is a good way to make sure your dog maintains range of motion without further injuring the knee. These short periods of exercise may also encourage the growth of scar tissue in the area of the injured ligament. This scar tissue will serve to stabilize the joint as your dog goes along the healing process.
- Listen to Your Dog - Keep close tabs on your best friend throughout this process. They’ll let you know how they are feeling. Go at their pace, and if you don’t see any noticeable improvement in their lameness in a few weeks it’s time to re-evaluate CM.