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Healing a CCL Tear Without Surgery – Jasmond Baldwin

Hello Everyone,

I feel as I must give back some of the invaluable information that I have gotten here on the wonderful website I basically stumbled upon! Jasmond’s story began about 8 days ago. She has always been such a wild child. I rescued her at about 18 months almost 9 years ago; someone had abused her terribly and she is still such a frightened little girl. But, I have loved her above beyond crazy and have kept her near me and with me since then.

But sadly, against my better judgement, I let her rip when we were out, because she has such a high prey drive, it was the only way to rid her of some of her restlessness. She is supposed to be Chow/Border Collie, which explains the high prey drive! So last week, at the park as so many times before, ZOOM, man she’s gone chasing a squirrel up a tree.

Conservative ManagementShe came out of the bush, with her left rear leg, just gimpy, limpy along. Not until later at the house that night did I notice the extent of her injury. I freaked, cause I knew this was not good. The injury occurred on (I believe) Sunday, and by Monday we were off to the vets.

Long story short, she has blown her ACL and I am devastated. Moving along to a few weeks later, after getting her on Deramaxx for the pain, I wind up at the Idaho Humane Society. I had a visit with the executive director of the center, who is an orthopedic surgeon. We did the exam, had x-rays taken for the first time, and much to my despair, not only is her left leg shot, her right is even worse!

Much to my horror, she also has hip dysplasia in both hips with arthritis and arthritis in both legs also. So in trying to decide to do surgery or CM, after reading about all of you guys that have taken that road I figured, what the hell…. I can not do surgery on legs, hips, and God knows what else! I was so bummed, I am so worried about my girl.

Canine Cruciate RepairIt is horrid to see my wild child, become crippled. (tears, and more tears) So as it stands, right now I too am having to just try to keep her comfortable and out of pain. I restrict her movements, am trying to get a little weight off her (she’s 48 lbs or so) and I have her Rimadyl and Tramadol also. Doc. said to give her 2000mg. of MSM and Glucosomine, which is good to know cause I only was going to give her 1000 of each. That for about 2 months, (2000mg) while she is trying to recover.

This is a difficult thing to watch, but thank goodness I will be home with her not having to work (unemployment!). I can assist and watch over her! I am an old lady myself, but have no children, so you know how neurotic us pet owners can be with “our kids!” So, keep writing guys, this is very helpful – I don’t feel so alone and sad, knowing others out there are struggling with the same problems! Thank you all, and I will keep you guys informed, as we travel this very bumpy road of destiny!!

Appreciatively,
Eilen Baldwin
Star, ID.

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81 Responses to Healing a CCL Tear Without Surgery – Jasmond Baldwin

  1. Jana Rade July 1, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Dear Eilen, so sorry about Jasmond! How bad was the hip dysplasia graded? Not all grades of HD do require surgery, lower grades do well with weight and exercise control and arthritis treatments.

    So unfortunate about the knees. Conservative management can work if you can truly control what Jasmond does. To increase the chance of success I’d brace.

    Knee brace helps to keep the joint stable for the scar tissue to form properly.

    • Andi February 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Well, I am so sorry to see so many others having the same heartbreaking stories that have. Maggie, my Pit-mix girl is only 2 and a half years old is suffering from bilateral torn CCLs. Upon taking her to the vet for the first tear, we learned it wasn’t the first. The other leg was bad long before the obvious new tear. I assumed the second tear was a result of overusing the leg to support more weight, but I have learned that most bilateral tears are a result of the knee joint not being properly angled to support the pressure that knee joints are supposed to endure. So, this means both were bound to eventually tear with normal doggie rough-housing. I would like to know why so many pup knees are prone to this problem…
      Anyway, with a dog of her size (55 lbs) there is little to no hope of autonomous recovery, only pain management and restricted activity. I have learned in the past few months that pain management and restricted activity only makes Maggie depressed and anxious every time the door opens. She doesn’t know why she can’t go out and play or take long walks.
      She wants to lay on the couch and bed when we do, but she has to be lifted up and set gently down. I’ve been giving her Tramadol and Glucosamine Sulfate until the day I can afford her surgeries. For now, she has gotten very good at supporting most of her weight with her front legs- which are hopefully free of defects and able to take the abuse.
      The good new is, I am scheduling her surgery for two weeks from tomorrow… I pray she recovers well and the surgeries are uneventful with successful results!

      • Jana Rade February 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

        Hi Andi,

        some dogs indeed have the tibial plateau angle too steep; but it doesn’t actually happen as often as one would think. I take it you’re doing TPLO? These surgeries make a really good sense if the angle is steep. The type we chose would not work in such case. Fortunately, Jasmine’s angle was favorable.

        Glad she’s going to have the surgery soon! While the front indeed is quite strong, actually the normal weight distribution is greater on the front than on the back naturally, any compensation the body has to do will cause problems.

        Jasmine had undiagnosed knee problems also (until finally diagnosed and corrected) and she did develop arthritis in her shoulders as a result of the long term compensation.

        So one needs to be quite careful with this stuff.

      • Andrea March 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

        Hi, Andi

        If it’s any consolation, my little pit-mix, Scooter, had TPLO surgery last spring. (She was about 45 pounds, 3 yrs old.) The recovery period was a L-O-N-G 8-12 weeks of little to no activity, but it really paid off. She’s absolutely perfect now. No limp, no favoring the leg. You’d never know she had surgery. Thank God she had insurance. It was very expensive!

        I found this blog about 1 week after the surgery and wondered whether I had done the right thing by having the surgery. Now I have no regrets. Good luck to you and Maggie

        Andrea

  2. Jackie July 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Dear Eilen,
    I hope Jasmond is doing well. How is her reecovery coming along? I have a 9 year old pitt mix who already has had CCL surgery on her left leg but now i am considering having her right done. However i would prefer to not cut her again, however each day that goes by i am seeing her become a 3 legged dog not wanting to use her leg at all. I am torn on what to do….

  3. Andrea July 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Hi, Eilen. So sorry to hear about your little girl’s problems. Sounds so much like my Pumpkin–only the problems came in a different order. Pumpkin had surgery on both knees at around 5-6 yrs old. When she turned 10, she started limping a lot. Took her to the vet thinking it was arthritis in her knees. Turned out to be a severe case of hip dysplasia in both hips in addition to arthritis in both knees. That was 3 years ago this summer. At the time, the vet said that she had until maybe Thanksgiving, and if she made it that long, maybe we could look to Christmas. Pumpkin is still with me. Not doing very well but still happy, eating, and showing a strong spirit.

    Since the initial diagnosis 3 years ago, she has developed arthritis in nearly every joint in her body–elbows, wrists, spine, etc. I got her a doggie wheelchair which she enjoyed for a long time. Now she has a hard time supporting the front end and pulling the back end with the wheels so she doesn’t use it much anymore. I never regretted buying her wheels.

    My advice to you….don’t try to do too much for Jasmond. I did that with Pumpkin when she was first diagnosed, and she took an immediate nose-dive. If she doesn’t use the muscles, she’ll lose them. If Jasmond starts having a really hard time walking or can’t run, buy some wheels. Pumpkin started running again when I first got the wheels. Find a vet that specializes in physical therapy and get some exercises so Jasmond stays as strong and flexible as possible. And last…don’t give up until she does.

    Best of luck to you and your precious Jasmond.

    Andrea

  4. Lucretia Lequerique July 29, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    Hi, I just read your story while looking up anti-inflammatory for my 31/2 yr old havanese. She was trying to keep up with her cousin a yellow lab and tore her acl. Very hard to know what to do but I just read this article at http://www.tiggerpoz.com/
    It helped me to feel comfortable with the no surgery route (for now). Hope you find it usefully. Good luck. Lucretia

    • bogusia hillard August 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      My 3 YR old boxer just got diagnosed with an ACL tear as well. I did find the site that Lucretia mentioned http://www.tiggerpoz.com/ and after reading I feel the same way she does in regards to the no surgery option. The surgery is not cheap and currently not in my budget; I felt so bad that I couldn’t have it done on the spot. Once I read some of the things on the web site I felt a lot better. I was already doing some of the things mentioned (no activity, anti-inflammatory). I do see an improvement as well. He isn’t limping as much; you can tell it is not recovered, but it isn’t getting worse. I have another dog so the challenge is trying to keep her from playing with him. I definitely will try the information given on that site.

      The vet I went to did offer the surgery, but we did not jump on that offer and told him we needed to think about it (since it was so expensive). Once we did that he suggested from end of July through end of October restrict activity for that time. If he is still limping then surgery may be needed.

      I am going to try that first before doing the surgery. Bogusia

  5. Jana Rade August 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Extracapsular repair is a lot cheaper and works just as well (if the tibial plateau angle isn’t too steep).

    My worry with conservative management with such a young energetic dog would be keeping the knee stable enough long enough.

  6. jennifer August 23, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Dear Eilen,
    So sorry to hear about your poor puppy.
    I am just beginniing my own adventure with a blown knee with my dog. I own a kennel in Wisconsin and do canine hydrotherapy. I have seen some amazing results with hip dysplasia and knee issues as well as arthritis. You should look into hydrotherapy in your area it might bring her pain relief increased muscle and get rid of some of that pent up energy. Just make sure it is a heated pool at least 90 degrees for the best benifits!
    good luck
    Jennifer

  7. Jana Rade August 24, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    Hydrotherapy is certainly awesome. We did lots of it too; very pleased.

    Depending on the issue though, having done both, for major issues stem cell therapy does come out cheaper at the end.

    Though ideal scenario is to do both. (which we ended up doing anyway)

  8. Laura Klimovitz September 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I feel everybody’s pain! My 3 year old VERY active aussie/pit mix was just diagnosed with a CCL tear in his right rear leg. We are going to try the conservative management method but it is SO hard to keep him still. He already seems a bit depressed with his new schedule and it has only been a few days.

    Any tips for keeping him still and entertained/happy?

    Thanks!

  9. Ann September 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi. My post isn’t to anyone in particular. 11 months ago my 6 year old Australian Shepherd was jumped the fence and ended up with a partial cruciate ligament tear in the left knee. I restricted his activity for 6 months and started giving him a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement and he improved a little. 3 months later he started limping again, walked very slowly on walks, and had no interest in playing outside. I started giving him a low dose of the anti-inflammatory drug Rimadyl twice a day which seemed to help for about a month. A week ago he started holding the leg up and put no weight on it. He now has a complete cruciate ligament tear in that knee. Conservative management worked for a while, but now we are going the TTO surgery route. Our story has been a little bit of trial and error … just want to share our experience.

  10. Jana Rade September 25, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Ann, thank you for sharing your story. So sorry about your dog’s knee.

    Conservative management can work, sometimes, for some dogs. If the knee remains stable enough and the fibrous tissues grows tightly enough … then the joint would be stabilized by the fibrous tissue. But it is very hard to pull off.

    I have a friend who tried conservative management twice (same dog, same knee) and the second time around they were successful.

    When Jasmine was diagnosed with different grade partial tear in both of her knees, we did consider conservative management. But given her age and activity level we just didn’t feel we could pull it off successfully and opted for surgery.

    I think conservative management can be more successful when brace is used, because the brace provides external stabilization to the joint.

    We considered that option too.

    But at the end I am convinced that surgery (whichever one of the options one chooses) is the best solution. It has the best chance for the dog to regain full use of the leg and return to their life the way it used to be.

    • Ann September 25, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Jana – thanks so much for your post! Your timing is perfect. Although the extracapsular repair surgery is scheduled for Thursday, I’m still mulling over the pros and cons. Since we tried CM for almost a year, I’m not sure continuing down that road would be best. My nightmare is arthritis in both knees and hip dysplasia.

      Can I ask – did you use a brace during the recovery from surgery? I’m prepared for the long recovery and am trying to think of all I can to make this less of an ordeal for both of us.

      Thanks!

  11. Jana Rade September 25, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Hi Ann. Extracapsular repair is the least invasive option, we have chosen this one for both of Jasmine’s knees. That was almost three years ago and her legs are doing great.

    I’m assuming that your vet/surgeon considered the tibial plateau angle (too steep of an angle would really be the only thing that would exclude extracapsular repair as an option). It doesn’t seem that there are too many dogs with the angle that steep.

    The post-op after extracapsular repair is somewhat more sensitive than after one of the newer surgeries, one has to watch for mishaps. (That said bad things can happen with TPLO, TTA or TTO also and the fall out of those can be much more dramatic)

    It is crucial to follow the post-op program and physical therapy religiously. That is important after any surgery though.

    Mishaps can happen, often they don’t seem to do much worse than set the recover back a bit. Major mishap might mean the sutures stretching or tearing, that would mean you’d have to start over.

    The modern surgeries have faster recovery and are a bit more forgiving, however one unfortunate jump off the couch can bust a plate also.

    I agree with the arthritis concern. The longer the knee remains unstable the more arthritis develops. Getting it stable as soon as possible is the best way to prevent further joint damage.

    We considered brace as one of the options but opted for surgery instead. No, we didn’t use brace for the recovery time. The brace supports the knee but does it differently enough that one or the other is the best idea. I actually discussed adding a brace during the post-op but our surgeon advises against that.

    It is going to be hard on both of you, but you will be on a way to getting our lives back. You’ll get to celebrate the first time he gets to go out out all, You’ll get to celebrate when the length of walks starts increasing.

    We’ve been through this twice. Eventually it will be over :-)

  12. Ann September 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Thanks so much for the information – and the words of encouagement. We’re going to make the most of the next 4 days. Let him walk and do some serious sniffing. :-)

    The surgery is Thursday and I will pick him up Friday. I have a crate to start his recovery, As he progresses I have baby gates, a flat surfaced area, and pee-wee pads. He is a happy dog with the best attitude – so that should help with his recovery.

    Take care!

  13. Jana Rade September 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Serious sniffing is allowed after the surgery too :-) In fact, that’s the safest walk activity :-) You can also check my blog, there are my thoughts on the surgeries, an article about post-op and more stories. (Clicking on my name will take you there, look in the Table of Contents under ACL injuries)

    It is ok for him to go pee outside, as long as it is on the leash. If you have steps leading to the outside, you might consider toweling or ramp (we did the ramp as Jasmine hated toweling). Jasmine was going to bathroom outside the whole time. I think he might appreciate it better too.

    You might want to cover any potentially slippery surfaces (including tiles, hardwood etc) with some cheap rugs.

    • Ann September 26, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      Last night I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get him to the bathroom … so once again your reply had great timing. The funny thing is, I had another dog about 10 years ago who had cancer and had a leg amputated. I guess I had forgotten all about how we did that. He hopped right up and went outside like it wasn’t anything. :-) I remember caring for him post-op and all that went along with it, but for some reason I could not remember that part. So … not to worry. The pee-wee pads are for the potential accidents – not for complete confinement. After the initial injury last Fall I put the additional throw rugs on the two areas that are not carpeted. The ramp is in the works and will have it by Friday.

      Thanks again for your comments. I’ll check out your blog.

    • Brenda Stevens November 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      My 13 year old whippet tore his CCL three weeks ago running in the backyard. We’re going for the conservative management treatment and so far so good. I know we have a long way to go and appreciate the encouragement from the others who have posted their experiences on this site. I wanted to offer some advice on slippery floors. I have lots of hardwood and also tile that gets slippery. I invested in a bulk roll of yoga mat (comes in many colors) and available online at yoga supply websites. I have cut the mat in lengths to accommodate hallways and high traffic areas in the house to prevent slips. It has really helped and is much cheaper than buying several rugs. Good luck to everyone helping your furry friend recover from this – it is very stressful on the humans!

      • Ann November 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

        Brenda – Thanks for the tip about the yoga mats. I’m slowly adding rooms for my Aussie to be in. He has a favorite window that just happens to be in a room with hard wood floors and that will be a good thing to place there. The rest of the room is pretty much covered with an area rug – but your idea is great!. Good luck to you & your furry friend as well.

        • Brenda November 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

          Hi Ann:

          How long has your dog been recovering? We’re in week 3 and I see improvement but I feel like we are in for a long haul. Have you heard from others how long it has taken? My vet keeps saying, “give it 8 weeks but it might take up to 16 weeks”. I know my whippet is getting cabin fever but so is his caregiver … I feel like we are both in jail. But he’s worth it!

          All the best,
          Brenda

          • Ann November 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

            Hi Brenda,

            Yesterday was week 7 of recovery! YAY! It’s a good feeling of accomplishment, but my Aussie has cabin fever for sure!

            Don’t be surprised if your Whippet seems a little depressed at week 4. It was pretty noticeable, but it lasted only a couple of days. I try to keep a positive mood around him so he doesn’t feed off my energy. His mood is back to normal now and doing great!

            We walk around in the yard on leash so he can sniff. That helps a lot. Last week we started going to the bathroom off leash in a very small area so he could be outside a moment off leash. Monday we started walking a short distance down the street. (basically to the neighbor’s driveway) I make sure there are no other dogs out or people walking so the walk can be calm. We’re not rushing recovery – although it’s tricky when he seems almost healed. Poor fella seemed excited about the new rug I purchased so he could go into the kitchen. :-)

            You’ve made it to week three – congrats! Our 8 week follow up appointment is next week, so we’ll see what the vet says. I expect he will slowly build up walking time. I really can’t believe we just finished week 7.

            Hang in there fellow knee surgery prisoner. :-)

          • Brenda November 21, 2011 at 11:29 am #

            Hi Ann,

            Thanks for your update and encouragement. We’re past week 4 and you are correct in feeling like it’s an accomplishment. I feel like my life is on hold and
            I’m handcuffed to a whippet. But he’s worth it!

            We did go through a few days of depression but it’s gone and my problem now is trying to keep him calm. He’s trying to be a whippet again – everything has
            to be done at lightening speed and he’s quick to jump. I literally have him on a leash in the house if he is not resting in his new Canine Camper. Had to buy a bigger
            crate that has mesh sides so he can see everything that’s going on – it’s like a little mesh tent that zips together – pretty cool. I purchased it from MidwestPetProducts.com
            in case anyone is interested. As far as walking, he is putting weight on the leg but we have to go slow or he wants to get going and bunny hop. Our walks are down
            the driveway and back through the front yard. I read somewhere that walking on grass was better than a hard surface.

            My husband gets out of the Thanksgiving trip to visit my family – he is staying home to take care of Mate – it will be week 5 and I feel like that is crucial -
            don’t want any setbacks at this point.

            I look forward to hearing about your week 8 vet visit. And, if you will need to further restrict your Aussie. By the way, we actually did not have the surgery – we went for
            conservative management and it appears that is going to be the right choice for Mate.

            Keep me posted and again thanks for the encouragement and advice. It really does help to know others are going through this – gives me hope.

            All the best,
            Brenda

            P.S. My husband is a human Aussie!

  14. Jackie October 8, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    I just returned home from the vets office with my black lab/chow mix, Ebony, and was told that she, too, has pulled her ccl in her right back leg. She was given a shot of dexamethasone and tomorrow she starts the Rimadyl. We were told to keep her calm and not let her run around or jump, which is going to be hard since we also have a chocolate lab and they love to play and chase each other. I’m hoping that by keeping her on a tight leash, so to speak, that her ligament has time to heal. I am not in a position to where I can afford the surgery but if all else fails, and it came down to it, I probably would have it done. Eb is only 4 years old and is my baby!! I wish all of you luck on your “kids” too.

    • Ann October 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Hi Jackie – I just posted a reply to Tiffany that may be useful for you and Ebony.

  15. Tiffany October 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I just got home from the vet this morning. My 5 year old Catahoula/Pit mix has a partially torn CCL in his left hind. We really cannot afford a surgery, but I really don’t think the conservative management will work for him. I think he is more hyper at this age than he was as a puppy. If you even look at him his entire body wiggles and it takes him ages to calm down. I am afraid of him completely tearing the CCL and doing more damage. Even taking him out on the leash to go potty is an adventure – he likes to take the leash and walk himself, so he ends up doing a lot of twisting and turning. I go to school full time and work, so the only days I am home all day are the weekends. I would have to crate him all day Mon-Fri and I really hate the idea of that because I know he would be so miserable, but it seems like this is the only choice, even if we did a surgery (for post op purposes). The vet gave us pain meds today and said the ortho surgeon will call us Tuesday with his opinion. She didn’t think it was likely he would want to do surgery, though.

    What have others with hyperactive dogs done to help with conservative management? Are there any tips you can give me for keeping him relaxed? Thanks.

    • Jana Rade October 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      Hi activity dog and conservative management aren’t a very good match. You might do well with a brace though. Why don’t you look into that option?

    • ala November 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      Hey Tiffany-

      Active dogs can adjust to crate confinement. Just help him associate the crate with positive things, Feed him in there without shutting the door, give him treats in there. All the things you would do to introduce a puppy to a crate help with adult dogs. My hyperactive 5 year old pit had to spend 7 weeks in a crate and the thing that helped the most with that was giving her a kong filled with frozen peanut butter and treats (fill it, top it off with an ice cube, throw the whole thing in the freezer and give it to him the next day). Easiest to have 2 so one can be in there all the time.

      She was a little bit depressed to have to be in a crate, but she adjusted, and I spent time with her whenever I was home. It’s definitely better to protect a hyperactive dog from themselves.

      What did you end up deciding to do?

  16. Ann October 8, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Tiffany …

    My 7 year old Australian Shepherd had the traditional surgery to repair the torn cruciate ligament in his left rear leg last Thursday. Hopefully my experience with both conservative management and surgery will be useful. I know that a week ago I wished I had a crystal ball to help me decide what to do. :-)

    We took the conservative management route when my then 6 year old Aussie injured his knee last October. He sounds a lot like your dog – high energy and very enthusiastic. My vet gave us Rimadyl, we started a Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplement, and he seemed to heal. We put away the tennis balls and Frisbees, took walks that didn’t involve hills, and chilled out for about 6 months. It really wasn’t that bad. As he progressed, one thing we did for fun was play with a soccer ball. I walked and dribbled the ball with my feet and he followed along. This kept him low to the ground, engaged his mind, and provided a way to burn some energy.

    In July he started limping periodically so I gave him ¼ Rimadyl daily and took it easy again. Sometime in the last week of September he started limping and could put no weight on the leg. The ligament was torn and I discussed the options with my vet. We could continue with conservative management or go the surgical route.

    Apparently it is a big debate in the Veterinarian community as to which type surgery is best. Choosing the TPLO surgery meant seeing a specialist and a bill of about $3,000. My vet has cared for my dogs for almost 20 years and I trust his opinion and skill. He performed the surgery. The cost was a little over $600.

    The first week of recovery hasn’t been the easiest, but it is not as bad as I thought. He stays in the den. Tall baby gates block the doors and he is blocked from jumping up on the couches by a couple of foot stools. I have a wide board with a throw rug on it to cover two steps that we use as a ramp to go outside. 9 days after the surgery he is doing great. It’s recovery – no stairs, outside only on a leash, no running, no jumping, physical therapy – but it’s okay. We’re recovering and then will basically be doing the conservative management thing again.

    The last thing I will add is that it is helpful to know that this is one of the most common canine injuries. This tells me that dogs have dealt with this without surgery for many years. A friend of mine has a 13 year old Aussie who has torn his cruciate ligament twice – and it healed without surgery both times. She helps him avoid jumping (like into a truck or SUV) but he plays with the other dogs. He has some arthritis, but he is a little older.

    I didn’t mean to write so much – but hopefully our experience will help …

  17. Tiffany October 9, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Thank you both for your replies! I have read up on the braces and given them thought, but I am afraid he would destroy it (even those “pitbull proof” toys only last roughly 20 minutes with him), and I can’t afford to spend $400 just to have him eat in within the first hour. I definitely will consider it though if he goes downhill, but he is doing pretty good right now. I’ve also given thought to traditional surgery, but I’d really like to avoid putting him through a surgery if at all possible. I am still waiting to hear from the ortho surgeon on Tuesday though, and see what his opinion might be and ask him about traditional vs. TPLO. I don’t like the things I have been reading about TPLO, seems too costly and too risky, not to mention very invasive. I don’t think his injury is severe enough at this point to require something like that.

    • Jana Rade October 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

      Opinions on traditional vs TPLO depend on whom you ask.

      I hear you with the brace, you’d probably need to combine it with the elizabethan collar or like at least at the beginning.

    • Ann October 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Tiffany -

      The body can heal itself, so I wish you and your pooch luck. I’m sure things will work out. Like I said, my friend’s Australian Shepherd tore his twice – and it healed both times without surgery. There’s hope. :-)

      There is a lot of useful information here to help with conservative management or surgery if the day comes when that is necessary.

  18. Tiffany October 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Thank you both :) I am hoping his will heal on its own. He has been doing really good on it (except of course after laying down for a while, seems like that is the critical limping time), but then again he does take a pain pill once a day so when that is done who knows where we will be.

  19. Ala November 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    First off- I’m sort of curious as to how the OP believes that her dog is a chow/border collie mix?? If it’s the brown and white dog in the picture, it’s clearly a pit and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Anyway, has anyone here tried prolotherapy? I think someone mentioned stem cell therapy. This kind of therapy has had great results in horses with ligament damage, just wondering if anyone in the canine community has had any luck?

    The traditional surgeries do not repair the ligament, they only stabilize the joint with strategically guided scarring… Which means non-surgical seems to be the only course of treatment that focuses on preserving and healing the ligament. My 5 year old pit bull just tore her CCL 3 weeks ago due to weakened muscles from a back surgery recovery period (strict rest = mega muscle atrophy). She used to be a robust dog with great muscle tone but it’s going to take a long time to get her back to where she was. Another surgery just puts her at risk for further injuries at this point so I’m hoping to avoid it.

    Has anyone here found any truth to the statement that once one knee goes, the other typically goes within a year? Currently we are doing CM and after 3 weeks of doubling up on her normal joint supplement and using Rimadyl as needed, each day brings slight improvement. If she seems well enough by week’s end, will introduce hydrotherapy to regain muscle tone. If not… Probably can’t avoid a surgical consultation…

    I can keep you posted if anyone is interested in seeing which works for her.

    • Ann November 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      Hi Ala. My 7 year old Australian Shepherd is starting his 6th week of recovery after having the traditional surgery. We went the conservative management route for 11 months, but after a complete tear, we had the surgery. My reply is to your question regarding the statement about after one knee goes, the other follows. I have two comments. The first is this … I was very concerned about that happening when I had to make a decision about surgery. So far things have gone great! He has had an occasional limp from the “good” knee. Since he is still on a double dose of his Glucosamine/Chrondoitin/MSM supplement, and we are still recovering, it is sortof like taking the conservative management approach for the leg he didn’t have operated on. His lifestyle will change (no more Frisbee), but being more conscientious of his knees will surely help beat the odds of a tear/injury to the other knee and the need for surgery. Hopefully that made sense. :-) My second comment is this … A friend of mine has a 13 year old Aussie who tore one knee when he was 12 and it healed without surgery. He then tore the other not too long after and it healed with conservative management as well. He’s 13 now and aside from some stiffness and no high jumps, he’s doing really, really well. He plays with the 3 other dogs and has a great life.

      Sometimes it’s just trial and error.
      Best of luck to you!

      • Ala November 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

        Thanks Ann!

        This just kills me because she’s only 5! She could easily live to be 16 and it’s going to be a miserable 11 years if she can’t chase a tennis ball anymore. She lives for the ball and even wants to chase it 3-legged (not that I would let her!)

        She also plays full-contact with other dogs. Some things are true about pit bulls-they are resilient. She wants to be herself throughout this injury so I really have to think hard about the possibility of subjecting her to two more serious surgeries. I am actually investigating stem cell therapy for her. It works so well for horses recovering from ligament damage that I think it’s worth a shot.

        I’m just not convinced that any method that doesn’t focus on healing the existing ligament is going to improve her quality of life over the long term.

        I am waiting to hear back from a practice that performs stem cell therapy. The stem cells are cultivated from the dog’s own fat cells, so no embryonic controversy.

        She does improve bit by bit each day, so over the next few days the focus is on avoiding inflammation, building up muscle and nurturing the joint material.

        Since she’s never been over 50lbs or overweight and her joints otherwise have no arthritic changes, she clinically has a good prognosis for recovery without surgery.

        I will say this, for anyone that has a young dog- I think much of this is due to how active she was so young. She did jumps for agility, etc. Also def recommend ramps for high vehicles. I noticed a rapid decline once she had to jump in and out of a truck cab this year. It seems like nothing to let an athletic dog jump in the car but it really stresses all the problematic joints.

        • Ann November 9, 2011 at 11:33 am #

          This type of injury is a frustrating one. Like your Pitt Bull Terrier, my Australian Shepherd is a high energy dog. He has always been active. Tennis balls, frisbees, hikes, long walks … you name it and he’s always been ready. (I accidentally let “go for a walk” slip out yesterday and felt so bad!)

          Ditto about the ramps. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that because their dog can do it, they should do it. Not true. Ramps can be purchased or made inexpensively. They are certainly a “must” for arthritic and/or recovering dogs. I know they have made things so much easier for us.

          I hope things work out with the stem cell therapy. It sounds promising. If she is anything like the pit bulls I have known, she is resilient supreme and should do well! :-)

  20. Angel November 15, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    Does anyone have any advice for me. My dog tore both his rear ACL’s this past Weds. He was limping the past week, thought he had twisted his leg a little bit flying off the back stairs and it would get better and than Weds night came out and he couldn’t get up. Long story short, he is not walking at all on his back legs. I took him to a vet and they said that surgery was only option or to put him to sleep. We don’t want to lose him so I’m trying to figure out what our options are. He is a 5 yr old Belgian Malinois that weighs 48 lbs. Another vet said that because he is not trying to walk at all on his legs that he might be giving up and humane thing to do would be to put him down because he said that most dogs with this type of injury still try to walk on them. He said we could try the surgery (I do not want to do the TTPO) he does lateral suture repair and that he might recover. He is also not going potty right now. The last time he peed was Sunday night and I am extremely worried for him. I help him outside with a makeshift sling and he doesn’t go. I’ve tried looking up how to express his bladder but he isn’t going. Has anyone had a dog his size that had two CCL injuries at the same time? Has surgery worked for them or conservative management? Is he acting normal for a dog with this type of injury or not? He will try and shakily get up and hobble to me but than collapses down. If anyone has any comments or advice I would greatly appreciate it. My father is in the hospital just had colon cancer surgery and I haven’t been able to tell him about our dog yet. We don’t want the dog suffering, but if we have a chance to save him we want to, we just don’t know what to do its so confusing.

  21. Jana Rade November 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Angel.

    I would agree that surgery is the best option for your baby. While we opted for less invasive extracapsular repair, I think that TPLO, TTA or TTO would enable better use of the hind legs faster. With proper management you can see the dogs use the repaired leg very quickly after the surgery.

    I think whether or not the dogs will attempt to use the leg with this injury might depend on the level of damage. If both ligaments are fully busted, I think this might be very hard if not impossible to use the legs as they might not be able to support the weight and buckle (aside from the pain).

    Not eliminating is a whole other (very serious) problem. Knees are very fixable. But because of the other related issues I’d think that you either need to do the surgery right away or indeed let him go.

    I think that with a prompt surgery on the knees your dog has a chance to make it and get back to his life.

    • Angel November 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      I wanted to thank you for taking time to post an answer to me and offer some advice. To say I was stressed last week is a big understatement with my dad being the hospital and everything else. I’ve taken Jake to another vet who confirmed he has two full tears in both back knees. He also examined him to make sure he wasn’t dehydrated and checked his bowels and bladder and he seems to be ok so far. He has been dribbling outside for us and every other day goes more. We have surgery scheduled for as soon as we could get him in. Because of finances we are going to go with the traditional extracapsular repair and hope for the best. He is up and trying to hobble around now. This new vet gave him an antiinflammatory (1st vet refused to) in addition to his tramadol for pain and that seems to have helped a lot in making him more comfortable until we can get him in for surgery. Now I just have to keep my 8 month old puppy and my 1 1/2 year old away from him. They can’t understand why he won’t play with them and I obviously don’t want them or him accidentally getting hurt. This is a really great site, with a lot of very helpful information and I’m glad I found it.

      • Jana Rade November 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

        Good that you have a firm diagnosis. The good news is that knees are very fixable. Great that he’s trying to get around and eliminate (full bladder would have been a whole another problem)

        Jasmine had extracapsular repair on both knees (not at the same time) and it worked out great for her. The thing to watch for is that the knees are somewhat more vulnerable post-op than they would be with the TPLO or such. So gotta be careful and try avoiding mishaps.

        I hear you about the puppy, we had pretty much the same situation with Jasmine too. What we did was “distract” the pup from play attempts by offering treats and play with us (so he wouldn’t be “punished” for trying to play)

  22. ala November 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Hey-

    If he is unable to go to the bathroom you want to make sure there’s no other nerve damage. He might have pinched a nerve in his spine.

    However, that being said- knees are very fixable. Your best bet is to go to an orthopedic surgeon who can also bring in a neurologist to determine if there’s nerve damage. A neurological consult and an orthopedic consult together are not too pricey and then you will definitively know what you are dealing with.

    My 5 year old 48 lb dog has had spinal surgery and it helped her greatly, she is currently dealing with one torn CCL and we tried conservative management. The dog typically won’t use injured leg, or in your case, legs at all for the first 5 days at least. That’s not unusual. It hurts like hell- have you ever sprained an ankle? Not fun.

    Please take him to a specialist to determine the extent of his injury. If he has gone to the bathroom on his own by the time you read this post you can focus on his knees, but if he hasn’t you really need to help him. Spinal injuries are reparable, but the faster you act, the better. Just because he is not using his legs does not mean he’s giving up. How is he acting otherwise? Does he want to eat?

    Just remember- this is a very difficult injury for a dog to have just because the knee does so much weight-bearing. He is most likely just falling down because his joints are too unstable and he is pretty painful. Pain isn’t a reason to put a dog down- they can get through this and get better.

    Please consult another doctor and a neurologist to make sure it’s just the knees that are the problem. Don’t give up on him, judge him with your gut, not your eyes. If he seems like he’s just in a lot of pain, help him get better. He won’t start to act better until he feels better. I can tell you, just tearing one ligament is super painful, tearing one on each side is probably just very painful and he can’t help the fact that he feels that way. Have you given him Rimadyl or anything, or is he just dealing with this with no pain/anti-inflammatory meds?

    You can, and should, have been icing the knees periodically and giving something to keep the inflammation down. Inflammation is what you want to fight right now since that is what causes arthritic changes down the line.

    Here’s what we ended up doing:
    1. Tried conservative management with icing and anti-inflammatory medication because dogs under 50lbs can often get better without surgery
    2. After 3 weeks of conservative management (maybe stop after 2 weeks), consulted a doctor about stem-cell therapy, which can actually heal a ligament if it’s torn less than 25%
    3. Unfortunately, her ligament tear and meniscal damage were too great to be helped by stem-cell therapy alone, so we are opting for the surgery, not sure which one yet. But probably not TPLO because when that goes wrong it goes very wrong.
    4. Started Adequan Injections to slow and stop arthritic changes that have already set in over the course of three weeks due to the injury while we wait for our surgical date.
    5. Have had her on a glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM supplement for the past few years- those also help control inflammation
    6. Will do stem cell therapy after surgery to reduce arthritic changes, aid healing, and proactively protect the other knee

    Give your pup a chance, and definitely consult a specialist. Vets are just people and some vets are more pessimistic than others.

    • Angel November 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      Thanks for your advice. Last week was a bad week, was a little overwhelmed with everything going on, my dad was in hospital recovering from major surgery and Jake got injured the night he had his surgery. Then the vet we took him to was like its a $10,000 surgery or you can put him to sleep and since you don’t have that kind of money I can give you a minute to say goodbye while I get ready so my mom about had a nervous breakdown, to much to handle at once. Incredibly lousy vet. I’ve taken him to a different vet, who did testing and confirmed that he does have two totally gone ACL’s in his back legs and I’ve scheduled surgery. We also addressed his potty issues and made sure he is not dehydrated and is more comfortable (1st vet wouldn’t give us antiinflammatory, and had to fight with her to get tramadol for his pain). He seems much more comfortable now and is butt scooting around my house to get around and sometimes puts weight on his legs and walks for short distance. I know he was and is in so much pain, but with everything going on I was having a hard time finding information on how best to fix him. I’d never want to give up on him. I nursed this dog thru malnourishment and other problems as a puppy when we adopted him. I just didn’t want to see him suffering if he wasn’t able to recover from this and at first because of what first vet said we were pretty upset because we didn’t think we could afford that expensive of a surgery and that he would be able to recover without it. Obviously found out that the surgery is no where near that expensive and that there are different types, etc. Glad I stumbled across this site and thank you so much for your kind advice.

      • ala November 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

        Angel-

        That’s a lot to deal with, certainly. I’m glad you are able to give your dog the chance to recover. In today’s medical community, things tend to seem dire if our pets don’t get treatment immediately for something, but, sometimes it’s best to give them a chance.

        Dogs have dealt with this injury and more for a long time without surgery- which is not to say to do nothing now that we know better, but that the body does heal from injury, and things like surgery just help it heal optimally. Dogs are very tough and live happily with much less function than we would think they need. There’s a pit bull that was shot by his neighbor, lost both of his legs on one side- you’d think there’s no way a dog with two legs on the same side can walk- but he does- and he’s a happy, happy dog.

        Definitely take your time and do some research. While you are doing that, his joint will be stabilizing in its own way, just help him stay comfortable in the meantime! He sounds like a tough pup, I’m rooting for him!

  23. Hamlet November 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    What a wonderful site! My 11 month old lab (92 lbs.) eating on Friday raised his left rear leg. No trauma. Sudden onset, We took him in and his vet said he had a positive drawer test, but wanted to take x-rays and further examination. We gave him rimadyl on the weekend, restricted activity, and Monday morning went for the second exam. She confirmed hips were fine, but he had a tear, and spoke about both options conventional and TPLO. The doctor that does the conventional surgery in her office has only been out of school for a year, and when I told her he seemed very young, he said he was qualified, but suggested we see a specialist. Before going to the specialist, we went for a second opinion. After thoroughly examing Hamlet, the second vet could not confirm a tear, found no swelling, and suggested restricting activity, and allowing him to sedate Hamlet to confirm tear. He said a classic indication was walking on his tip toes, something Hamelt has not done. He has been repairing ACL tears for 15 years, and spoke with great authority. He also was not against trying conservative management, especially since Hamlet is only 11 months. I have read online that lab pups could have a loose knee and it not be an indication of a tear.

    For those of you that have gone through the experience, can a dog go back to being totally normal with an ACL tear? Are there varying degrees (movement) of positive drawer test?

    Man thanks.

  24. Jana Rade November 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Whether or not the drawer sign can be elicited depends on a number of things. For example, Jasmine had very strong muscles and the vet was not able to get it work either even though her ACL was clearly damaged because she was resisting. So it might not always be possible to get the test working regardless of the state of the ligament. That’s my experience.

    Similar limp can be caused by a number of things, Jasmine’s muscle injury and spinal misalignment looked a whole lot the same as her ACL injury.

    I think further examination would be a good idea to confirm exactly what is going on.

    Conservative management can work if you’re able to control your dog’s movement and keep the knee stable enough to heal using its own devices.

  25. Hamlet November 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Jana – thanks for your quick response.

    1. I guess my question should be can there be a false positive? Is it true that a puppy can have a loose knee and it not be a torn ligament?

    My vet was vague, but the second vet said if he could move the knee a bit, he probably had a partial tear, although without sedation and examining his posture, walk, etc. he did not think he had a complete tear. I am hoping Hamlet has a partial tear and that with conservative management we can correct the issue. We have to wait a month or two until he is full grown before he can have surgery, so that’s why I want to try the conservative approach.

    2. Can a dog with an ACL injury show no symptoms (no limping, no tip toeing, no holding his leg up, etc.) from one day to the other?

    When the second vet came into the room, he had to ask which leg to examine.

    All the best.

  26. Jana Rade November 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Hi Hamlet

    I wouldn’t think so, I think false negative is way more likely than false positive

    I have never heard of a “loose knee”; normally the ligament can be either healthy, torn (partially or fully) or stretched. In any case, though, regardless of the reason for the knee instability, it is a bad thing for the knee. If the joint is moving around more than it should, arthritis develops.

    The level of movement and limping will depend on the degree of the ligament damage. If the ligament is only stretched or partially torn, there might not be any visible symptoms. Note: human eye can see it only when the leg is favored more than 25%, anything under that is invisible.

    When Jasmine hurt her left knee we discovered her right knee was bad also which we had no idea about until then.

    One way to determine whether one leg gets favored over the other is measuring circumference. If one leg is thinned than the other that it’s being favored (this take some time to develop though, so it depends on how long there was a problem)

  27. ala November 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Re: Hamlet… is he 92lbs of muscle? Or is he a bit overweight? I know some labs are definitely larger naturally, but weight management is a key to preventing joint degradation and helping the dog heal when and if joint injuries happen.

    Typically, larger dogs do not often get better without some kind of treatment. If they have a partial tear, it often becomes a complete tear. However, if Hamlet is not showing any signs of a torn ligament but is likely predisposed to joint issues, you may want to consider stem cell therapy. If Hamlet only has a mild tear, he would have appeared better within a day or so- three days max. When the tears are more severe, or are complete, then you have the toe-touching walk, etc. The stem cells (harvested from the dog’s own cells) can actually repair a ligament that is less than 25% torn, and they can aid in other joint repair, even long-term arthritic issues. It’s possibly Hamlet has some degree of tearing that you have a chance to repair now- something you won’t be able to do once/if he tears it completely. Surgeries for ACL/CCL issues never repair the ligament- they just re-set the joint in such a way that the ligament isn’t necessary anymore. Not the ideal solution.

    You also have to consider what is involved in a ‘loose knee’. If the meniscus is loose enough to flip around the joint, there is usually something more serious at work. If you only have a mild drawer sign, but can hear ‘clicking’ or a popping noise, you definitely have something very out of place in the joint.

    Occasionally, the patella will slide out of place. In some breeds it’s more prevalent. That’s not as detrimental but can be uncomfortable. If good muscle tone doesn’t help, sometimes a surgery to deepen a groove in the bone to keep the knee cap in place can help.

    I would definitely recommend seeing if you can do stem cell with him while you do conservative management. It sounds like he’s a fantastic candidate. I will be doing it with my pup post-op. She would have been an ideal candidate if her tear had been less severe.

    Do a little research on it and see what you think. They actually completely cut the ACL of rabbits and kept them strictly rested with stem cell therapy the ligaments completely repaired. Pretty amazing!

  28. Hamlet November 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    ala and Jana,

    Thank you for such great information. No, I have not had any vet say he is overweight. He is extremely large. I have had him on a strict diet since the incident giving him 1 cup of dry (Dick Van Patten Limited Ingredient Venison and Sweet Potato) and 1 cup of string bings (very high fiber/low calories), 2 times a day.

    He only raised his leg that one time while he was eating. When I took him into the vet he was walking, but it did seem he was favoring the right. The very next day he showed drastic improvement, but to be fair we gave him rimadyl Saturday and Sunday. He had the x-ray 5 days ago, and I gave him 1 tablet of Rimadly on Monday. Since then he has had only his salmon oil, Gycoflex, and I started giving him “Terramin” (supposedly Nasa uses it for astronauts), has been confined to the kitchen, and on leash for his business. He looks completely normal.

    There is a place relatively close to me that I am going to call/visit on Monday about stem cell. I will update everyone. Thank you for all your support. I was going out of my mind.

    Janette

  29. ala November 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Hi Janette-

    I just wanted to add that my dog was favoring her left hind for a few weeks on and off, mostly only after she played. We thought this was just soreness from her recent back surgery but it turns out that very likely she had a minor tear in her ACL for that entire time and she would improve after just a day and be normal in the morning. However, in hindsight it’s very clear (unfortunately) that she had a torn CCL, less than 25% that if I had realized it in time, could have been healed with stem cell therapy. Because I did not put 2 and 2 together until after her ACL tore completely, she now has to have the surgery. There was no way I could have known for her, but for you, I am hoping my experience will help Hamlet avoid what my pup is currently going through. Minor tears basically always turn into complete or severe tears without some form of treatment. Even rest is only enough to bring down inflammation and pain, but the ligament is a very slow-healing thing and one bad step can make the tear much worse. Hoping the best for Hamlet and I hope you are able to help him heal.

    Keep in mind that, as someone mentioned before, a tear less than 25% is almost invisible to the human eye. You barely see any signs of pain in the dog- but the fact that he lifted his leg and is slightly favoring it is definitely key. There are no good tests that exist, even in MRI form, to determine the amount of tear in the ligament. It’s an imprecise science right now, you have to use other methods of observation.

    My dog looked completely normal by the morning each night that she was sore, and her X-rays showed perfect hips and knees. She would be very sore, and then bounce back to 100%….apparently well-being can be misleading. All the best to you and Hamlet, please keep us posted!

    Also- to everyone else, do keep in mind that strict rest is only to bring down the acute phase of a ligament injury. The time you allow to pass is just time where you are waiting for arthritic changes to set in. The knee joint does on its own (but much slower and sometimes not as effectively) what the surgery aims to do- which is stabilize the joint through scarring and arthritic changes, taking the load off of the now ineffective ligament. Conservative management and surgery do similar things but if your dog really does have a torn ligament, you are better off helping the arthritic changes be clean and effective with surgery, unless you have a small dog in which case, the results are generally the same whether you’ve done CM or surgery.

  30. Hamlet November 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Great information. Can you guys help me with this question? How do you diagnose 25%, partial, grade, etc. of tear if this does not come up on x-ray. Is it mainly history of symptoms? How often he lifted his leg, signs of pain, sign of favoring, etc.?

    Many thanks to all for caring and sharing.

    Janette

    • Jana Rade November 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      The level of lameness is “some” indicator, but the only way to really accurately diagnose the degree and type of damage is with MRI or arthroscopy.

  31. ala November 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    That’s the unfortunate part…25% is almost undetectable. But typically an orthopedic surgeon can diagnose the level of damage by the amount of drawer sign, though they don’t always directly correspond. You can definitely tell if the CCL is injured at all with an MRI though- the fibers will look somewhat irregular and rough. If there’s any irregularity at all, and you’re not seeing other signs, you could assume it’s a small tear…but any tear is typically no good. As mentioned before, the meniscus clicking/popping is often a warning sign too.

  32. Ann November 22, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Hi Brenda,

    I wasn’t sure if Mate had the surgery or not – and I’m glad to hear things are going well. Did he have a complete tear? It does take dedication and can seem like a lot of work, but like you said, they are worth it. When Chuck first injured his knee by jumping the fence he had a partial tear and we did conservative maintenance for 6 months. CM for him was confinement to two carpeted rooms, no running, no jumping to catch balls, no jumping up on furniture, etc. (along with Rimadyl & the joint supplements) He did really well. His down fall was stairs. Before the injury he would run up and down stairs to get to whatever window he wanted to look out or whoever he wanted to see in the house. After he “recovers” he will be allowed one trip up stairs to go to bed at night and trip down in the morning. That’s going to be my plan for other dogs who come to live with us too. I never thought of the damage to his knee – or the other dogs I have had. They run with such gusto that it doesn’t cross your mind!

    The Canine Camper looks great! If your dog is anything like mine, he has to be able to see everything! Super nosey! A bigger area and being able to see around has got to have a positive impact on their outlook and recovery. I have a small tent for the beach that I was going to use initially. (got it at Sierratradingpost.com really cheap) Instead I had him start in a small den with baby gates and no access to couches, loveseats, or chairs. I had ottomans on the couches and a big basket on the one chair so it wouldn’t be a consideration. He goes straight out the back door to go potty. I have a piece of plywood from the attic floor with a rug on top that he uses as the ramp. That works out really well. No slipping or falling off – and no temptation to jump off the side. He now has a den and the kitchen to roam. If it is nice, I add baby gates and he is able to be outside on a section of the deck. Like you, his walk back to the house it through the yard. I try to stay in grassy areas but part of his routine has always been to walk down the driveway to get the newspaper. :-)

    Since slick floors are out of the question permanently, I found some nice indoor/outdoor rugs for my kitchen. They were really inexpensive. (The yoga mats you mentioned are great under the window.)

    I will definitely let you know about our trip to the vet. With the holiday, we won’t be going in until next week. Mate is a neat name! I’m guessing that’s from your Aussie husband? Very cute indeed.

    You are right. Knowing someone else going through this really helps. I appreciate you being in touch.
    Enjoy the holiday!
    Ann

    PS – Chuck is working on using a pet ramp I purchased so he can get on the couch with supervision and bed at night next week. (hopefully). It’s tough!
    PSS – In case you need to know, Overstock has Regalo brand extra tall pet/baby gates that you lift a latch to open and walk through. You can move them from door to door because they are not permanently installed. Better price than the stores in my area.

  33. Janette - Hamlet December 23, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    Update on Hamlet – It has now been 5 weeks since we looked for a second opinion and started conservative management – confined in kitchen, on leash outside,no play with his older brother, etc. and have supplemented his food with Terramin, Gyclofex II, organic fruits and vegetables, and Salmon Oil.

    Hamlet just saw his original vet yesterday for a skin rash, and I am happy to report that she said he was tight and showed no signs of injury. He is starting hydro therapy next week.

    I am not saying this will work for everyone. I suspect Hamlet had a small partial tear and it did heal on it’s own with conservative management. We will continue to monitor him.

    My suggestion is to always try and get a second opinion, research, research, research, and try and ask as many questions as possible. If it had been up to my vet, Hamlet would have had a TPLO. The two vets I saw are 3 miles apart in distance, but a world apart in opinion. The original vet told me he had a complete tear and TPLO was the only option, the second vet told me he thought he may have a partial tear, but was all in favor of conservative management.

    Thanks to all of you for your support. We’ll keep in touch.

    Janette

  34. ala December 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    That’s great to hear about Hamlet- I hope that remains the case for him. My 47 (currently 46lb) female was unsuccessful with conservative management likely because her meniscus was torn and causing her significant pain. We opted for the fishing line procedure as it is the least invasive and with proper post-operative management is equally successful in dogs with the appropriate knee angles.

    When she did go in for surgery, the surgeon saw that her CCL had been almost completely reabsorbed by the body, that’s how severe the tear was and how long the process had been going on. The thing that was actually causing her pain was her meniscal tear, and meniscal tears typically occur as a direct result of the instability caused by a ruptured CCL. Meniscal tears pretty much always require surgery.

    Unfortunately my dog was a case where conservative management did her more harm than good, giving the unstable knee time to further damage itself.

    Now- 9 days post-op, she is weight-bearing on that leg. The muscles of that leg are wasted as a combined result of a previous back surgery and rest period in July and her disuse of the leg while it was injured. She is not completely weight-bearing as a result- but she is consistently using the leg in a slightly more solid fashion than toe-touching.

    She is also on a very thorough post-op regimen icing the joint, therapeutic passive range of motion exercises and after her sutures are out on Wednesday, she will go to a veterinary physical therapy clinic where she will also do hydrotherapy.

    So we are less than two weeks into the critical 8 week recovery time. There are still a lot of ways things could go wrong since I did opt for the least substantial of the artificial inserts. My choice was based on the high-risk and highly invasive method of TPLO- in a dog that is susceptible to complications, this was simply not an option. It would have been an option, however, if her knee angle had required it. Fortunately she was just at the high end of acceptable, rather than within the required range. Dogs with an angle of more than 31 degrees are TPLO required dogs- she was at 29. The tightrope procedure, while it does offer more robust stability through the crucial recovery period, uses an abrasive material and can cause irritation and infection- again, the risk of complication was too high for her (this is a dog that should have been named Murphy because she exemplifies Murphy’s Law).

    I am actively supporting her and working with her through this time and not letting her do any steps at all. I live on the 3rd floor of a walkup apartment building and I’ve been carrying her for each potty break. It’s not fun, but there’s no way I want to see my dog in pain, or set back in her recovery, or worse yet- requiring another surgery on the same knee.

    Hope you all are faring well with your dogs. Prevention and attentiveness can go a long way to avoiding a complete rupture and addressing a partial tear early. I really hope others learn from my story in terms of intermittent limping being a call to action to prevent total tears.

  35. Anne March 2, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Sharing my update of a lot of good, and a little not-so-good:

    The GOOD: My 7 year old Australian Shepherd had the traditional surgery September 29 (5 months ago) and the leg could not be more awesome!!! It is strong, healed well, and really impressed all involved. We tried conservative maintenance for a year, and it worked initially, but eventually the ligament completely tore and surgery was necessary. The recovery is long – but it is completely worth it. To control the pain he took Tramadol and was later switched to Rimadyl. A few baby gates and a small ramp to allow him to walk outside to go to the bathroom helped things run as smoothly as possible.

    The very MINOR Not-so-Good: His other rear leg showed signs of lameness after about 3 months. (This is fairly common.) He started to favor the repaired knee and at the 4th month he was limping and in pain. Our veterinarian has examined both knees. No damage to the repaired/surgery knee – and fortunately he did not tear any part of the other knee joint. We are doing conservative maintenance now and he is slowly improving. He takes Rimadyl and a glucosamine & chondroitin with msm supplement daily.

    If there comes a time that the other knee needs the same surgery I will not hesitate to go that route again. There is hope – so keep your chin up and hang in there. :)

  36. Christy August 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    My 7 year old Bichon Frise, Bee, was just ‘diagnosed’, with a torn ACL. One morning when we got up, she was limping. It is her left rear leg. I know of other people whose dogs actually recovered without the surgery. It took about 10 weeks, and their movement had to be restricted some (not letting the dogs just run in the yard, etc. but keeping them leashed outside).

    Does anyone know if MSM is hard on the liver? I know just as with humans, glucosamine can really throw off a dog’s blood sugar.

  37. Craig August 16, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    I feel everyone’s pain! My dog Bailey injured her Cruciate ligament a couple months ago. My wife and I took her to the vet and she told us it would cost $3000 to fix it. We didn’t listen to her and we are glad we didn’t. We did a lot of research on surgery alternative braces, and we decided to purchase the Woundwear A-Trac Dynamic brace for $300. Bailey did not mind the brace at all and I have been very happy with the results. Bailey was able to walk without a limp immediately and greatly improved her quality of life. I highly suggest this brace to anyone looking for a conservative management option! I hope it helps others like it helped my Bailey.

    -Craig S.

  38. captaincameron February 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    Hello, all–
    While I am the human history of knee injuries (first blown ACL 33 years ago at age 13), I didn’t even know dogs had knees until Foster, my 7 1/2 year old Australian Cattle Dog (read: dingo with a flea collar) started limping and the vet diagnosed and the specialist confirmed.
    Money is not the issue for the surgery, but he was born deaf and also has never been crated–the idea of intense pain plus the isolation of the first two weeks is just something my wife and I are unwilling to do unless absolutely necessary.
    The website said it won’t list email addresses (and good for them), but if anyone has any thoughts about possible ways for Foster to rehab, please feel free to contact me at [email redacted].
    Thanks, and I hope you all and your pets are doing great.

  39. Christy May 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    I am happy to report that my Bichon ‘Bijou’ has recovered completely from what appeared to be a torn ACL. I restricted her movement to some extent for about 10 weeks; meaning she had to go out on a leash, not just run loose. I also did not allow her to jump up onto things. Within the 10 weeks she quit limping and there is no restriction of movement whatsoever!
    I am glad I did not put her through surgery. Two vets in the area recommended surgery.

  40. Jennifer August 31, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    I’m curious to know how dogs who did not have surgery are a year or so after CM option? My Santos was diagnosed with CCL tear yesterday. Prior to that and upon noticing the limp, I tried CM with no positive result. His limp became worse and eventually, after laying down for more than 15 minutes, he now hops tripod style. I give him Cosequin and am trying Metacam as Rimadyl did not work. We live on the second floor so I carry his 50 pound body up and down the stairs. To be quite frank, my back is not in the best shape to continue to do this for an indefinite amount of time. The cost associated with his surgery is a lot less than I expected (estimate $1,000). That is not money that I have in paper, but can afford to place on plastic. I simply do not know what to do.

    • Christy September 2, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      I am not sure what CM is…..but my dog healed perfectly and has not had a problem since. No limp, no favoring of that knee or hip at all. We just kept her from doing anything that might put undo strain on it. Such as keeping her from going up stairs, etc. Since most of the time the whole purpose of surgery is to keep things ‘in place’ so they can heal themselves, we let her heal.

      On a side note: on this site, there is a product that keeps popping up over and over, whether you want to view it or not. It is called GlycanAid. I would never buy it just for it’s invasive and rude advertising.

      • Jennifer September 3, 2013 at 5:12 am #

        Thank you Christy. CM refers to Conservative Management, essentially what you did with Bijou. I appreciate the information. Have a pleasant day.

    • ala September 2, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      Hey Jennifer-

      Just wanted to reply, having done both CM and surgery, and having had to carry my 50lb dog up and down three flights of stairs for the duration…

      I tried CM at first, but the problem is that while the joint will eventually create bone stabilization with arthritic changes- most of the time, the very sensitive padding between the knee bones has torn as well, and meniscus tears typically do not heal on their own. Dogs mask pain, so if your dog isn’t using that leg- it hurts a LOT if it hurts enough for them to show a behavioral change.

      If your dog is already tripod-style, the ACL is torn, and conservative management won’t do much. CM really works best for dogs who have partial tears. The other problem is- dogs who tear one ACL have a 50% chance of tearing the second within six months. So putting the extra strain on the other leg could feed into another tear. Many dogs only tear one- mine tore both, and it was likely because she went for almost two months with CM as a tripod before she could get in for surgery.

      CM does work- but typically not for complete tears and you do need to make sure there’s no torn meniscus. Speaking as someone who has experienced that pain firsthand- it’s no fun.

      ACL surgeries aren’t too pricey, your estimate is a very fair price, and there are less invasive options. My dog was a good candidate for the ‘fishing line’ repair, as yours likely was also. Totally worth it to do. Two years later my dog is back to being 100% functional: chasing frisbees, balls, playing with other dogs, running full out, etc.

      Rimadyl might reduce inflammation but at this point that’s not terribly helpful, Cosequin needs about a month to build up in the body before you really see results- that’s why they have the loading dose, but again, that’s to prevent joint degeneration in healthy joints. Your dog’s injured joint will actually depend on the arthritic change to create a bony substitute for the ACL, and that takes time. Recovery is much quicker after surgery than simply waiting for nature to stabilize the joint.

      They do get better- it’s just a matter of how long it takes, and how painful it is for them. My dog is totally happy and healthy now- and while CM didn’t work for her because she had complete tears and meniscal damage, we did try it first. 50 lbs is about the cutoff for how big of a dog it’s likely to work for. I personally kind of regret making her wait so long for surgery and letting her suffer through the CM after seeing how quickly she felt better after surgery … but that is just me.

      • Jennifer September 3, 2013 at 5:31 am #

        Hello Ala,

        Just as Ann illustrated below, I worry that either through CM or through his recovery from surgery, his other knee could tear also due to taking up the slack. He’s also diabetic and his recent x-rays show evidence of arthritis on his left hip (‘good side’).

        I appreciate your story as I too would regret if CM didn’t work and the problem became worse. I broke down last night as I tried to get Santos up the stairs and he just seemed over it. Before I could stop him, he ran up and I immediately became overwhelmed with a feeling of “I can’t do this for a year.”

        I am better this morning and I was able to carry him down the stairs and back up with no problem, just had to put my foot down with him.

        Thank you again so much for your story. Take care.

        • Ala September 3, 2013 at 8:41 am #

          Hey Jennifer, I may have written that a little bit obscurely- recovery doesn’t take a year, my dog had a back surgery prior to her ACL repairs- so 3 surgeries in 12 months. So she was starting from a deficit. Just meant that 2 years later, as a 7 year old dog, she’s able to play like a puppy. Only her back gets sore. But ACL recovery is more like 6 weeks of gradually increased activity, with something like 2 weeks of strict rest. It’s a pretty easy recovery and one of the benefits of doing surgery over letting nature take its course with complete tears. It’s good to take the time to make a decision but having done both I like to share what I learned to spare others the waiting. Basically- with complete tears, surgery is the quickest way to get better.

          • Jennifer September 4, 2013 at 5:34 am #

            Thank you again. Having a clearer idea of recovery makes me feel a bit better.

            Have a pleasant day.

    • Ann September 2, 2013 at 10:20 am #

      Hi Jennifer. Our journey started in 2011. My Australian Shepherd is now 9 years old and has had the traditional surgery on both knees separately – following a year of CM/Conservative Maintenance. He partially tore his cruciate ligament in the one knee in 2011 and we followed the CM route for one year. A wrong step finished the tear and he had the traditional surgery. While healing, his other knee weakened. We continued CM. He twisted the second knee and tore that ligament as well – and we we had the traditional surgery on the second knee. During both CM and recovering from surgery he took Cosamin DS and Rimadyl. I am SO happy to say he is doing great! While his tennis balls and frisbees have been retired, he enjoys play time and daily walks. He takes Cosamin DS every day and occasionally Rimadyl for inflammation. Hopefully this information witll be useful – best of luck to you!

      • Jennifer September 3, 2013 at 5:37 am #

        Thank you Ann. I started Santos on Cosequin DS and am still in the initial load weeks. I think I will change to Dosequin with ASU (avocado/soybean) for maintenance. I have him on Metacam also as the Rimadyl wasn’t working or didn’t seem to be and Tramadol will raise his glucose levels. He is also diabetic. There seems equal amounts of people on both sides. As I was told yesterday by my mother, I need to make a decision and not look back and stay off the internet. I am overwhelmed with trying to figure out what is best.

        I am a woman who chose not to have children and thought I surely avoided these types of heartbreaking challenges, but clearly not.

        I’m glad to read the positive results. Have a pleasant day.

        • Ann September 3, 2013 at 7:56 am #

          Hi Jennifer. You’re welcome! Conservative Maintenance worked for a while and interestingly enough, after the surgery, his lifestyle is pretty much according to those same guidelines. Deciding on surgery is never easy, but it was and is worth it. (Each knee was around $600)The first night he was home wasn’t easy. The only time he has been in a crate is when he is at the vet, so using a crate when he was recovering didn’t work. He did better completely and securely confined in a small space. The first night was in a corner with me sleeping on the couch. After that I used baby gates to confine him to a den area so he wasn’t isolated while healing. I used a piece of plywood for a ramp to get him outside. (2 stairs) It is amazing how they will walk around and do all their business with such a recent surgery! (I wondered about that)

          His doses of Cosamine DS started out higher and now he takes one capsule a day. I still have baby/dog gates in my home to keep him off slick floors and from running up and down stairs. That’s all part of the conservative maintenance bit – and I think in general has helped his success. He does use stairs, I just don’t let him run up and down all the time.

          You’re getting a lot of good advice and I’m sure you will make the best decision for your dog and you. Best of luck to you! And PS – I don’t have kids either. :-)

          • Jennifer September 11, 2013 at 4:20 am #

            Thank you so much Ann.

  41. Ruth September 3, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I have been researching like crazy since Sasha, 9 yo Australian/blue heeler mix, was diagnosed yesterday with an ACL tear at the emergency clinic. I am currently doing CM type intervention until I can get in to see our regular vet, but I am so torn on all the information and decisions that we will have to make. The surgical procedures in our area range from $3000 to 5500, which will be very difficult to do. I am going to start her on Dosequin as well as have read really good things about it. Friday I will have the visit with our vet to see his recommendations. The stories here are helping me realize that there is hope; just hate seeing her so sad since she can’t go upstairs or sniff in the front yard!

  42. Ann September 4, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Ruth – Hi. I have a 9 year old Australian Shepherd. Our journey started in 2011 when he was 6. He had the traditional surgery on both knees separately – following a year of CM/Conservative Maintenance. He partially tore his cruciate ligament in the one knee in 2011 and we followed the CM route for one year. A wrong step finished the tear and he had the traditional surgery. (approximately $600) While healing, his other knee weakened. We continued CM. He twisted the second knee and tore that ligament as well – and we we had the traditional surgery on the second knee. During both CM and recovering from surgery he took Cosamin DS and Rimadyl. I am SO happy to say he is doing great! While his tennis balls and frisbees have been retired, he enjoys play time and daily walks. He takes Cosamin DS every day and occasionally Rimadyl for inflammation. Hopefully this information will be useful – there is a lot of good info on this site. I posted a few times along the way – and they are posted above – here and there. It’s not the easiest, but hang in there, and best of luck to you and your dog!

    • Nancy September 10, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Good news on your guy, Ann! I had a traditional failure and the vet kept telling me to wait it out, it would tighten, etc, but after 8 months my guy was in a very dire situation. He finally had a TPLO (which I was hoping to avoid) but he’s OK now too!

      Whew! We basically did CM (since he was always on restrictions) for 8 months. It never worked. He never got scar tissue. He tore his meniscus. But he had a good X-ray, thanks to my restrictions.

      He didn’t get scar tissue because his knee was unstable; the vet didn’t tie the line tight enough.

      For complete tears, I’m just not convinced they can heal on their own, but I always read the stories and keep my fingers crossed.

      • Ann September 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

        Hi Nancy – a good news story is always so nice to hear! I’m very glad the TPLO worked. Yay :-)

  43. Anita March 18, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Here are some tips to make them more comfortable.
    These helped my GSH dog a lot.

    MSM from a good quality source
    Tumeric
    Vitamin E
    Glycosaminglycan from BONE BROTH (You want a solid gelatin stock which you can add to their food)
    Custom-made dog brace to stabilize the leg which will prevent further awkward movements that will speed deterioration, this may actually prevent arthritis. This is very effective.
    Proper strict Raw Diet (Prey Model Intended)
    No sugar or fruits or veggies containing natural sugars
    Make sure dog is a healthy weight

    Anti-inflammatories should be temporary but is necessary if inflammation is pretty bad. The first priority is to bring the inflammation down as soon as possible. The way I started was by crating my GSH for 2 weeks so she could get some serious rest while I was at work and she was also on the above supplements. After 2 weeks, I did notice that her limp was almost 100% sound. She was feeling a lot better. A LOT. So I stopped the aspirin and til this day she’s still on supplementation. She’s in the best shape she’s ever been in so long. She rarely limps now, she literally went from limping all the time to almost no limp at all, and when the limp does happen, it’s hardly a limp. It may happen once a month or none during a whole month.

    As for anti-inflammatories, aspirin is very safe for dogs. However make sure you know your dosages.

    You can find the dosages for aspirin and pretty much anything else from the dogdishdiet.com I highly recommend this site for info.

    All the best to you and your doggies…

    Take care,

    Anita

  44. Jake April 22, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    My golden retriever Gordon tore his right ccl when he was 5. We went with the tplo surgery which worked really well. Now he is 9 and tore his left ccl. Even though the surgery was successful it aged him a few yrs. and was misreable wearing the collar. I’m going with the conservative approach with a soft brace. Hopefully will be successful!!!

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  1. A Non-Surgical Approach to My Dog's ACL TearFidose of Reality - May 2, 2013

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