Our 8-year-old Goldendoodle Lucy was at our dog boarder while we were on vacation and we received an email that she had injured herself running while off leash. We picked her up a few days later and realized it was much worse than what they had described; she was trying to walk on 3 legs, keeping her back right leg off the ground. We took her to the vet, who diagnosed her with a partial tear and wanted to do surgery the same day. We opted for conservative management and started weekly hydrotherapy. We also got a second opinion from a naturopathic vet who agreed that it was a partial tear but felt that she would heal on her own.
She seemed to be doing better until one night we heard a crunching noise that seemed to come from her leg and she was back to hopping on 3 legs again. We went back to the naturopathic vet the next morning and she felt that the ACL had fully torn and that we needed to see a specialist about the possibility of surgery.
We were so upset because this is what we’d been trying to avoid. It had now been 3 months since she first injured herself and so we got an appointment for the specialist and I noticed that he was focusing on her back while he was examining her. She was extremely uncomfortable when he pressed on her lower back and in her groin area and she whimpered during the exam. She wasn’t showing too much pain when he examined her knee and decided to take x-rays to see if that would show anything. The x-rays came back with no arthritic bone changes and no fluid build up so he was pretty certain that it wasn’t her knee at all. He told us that her groin muscle had been severely pulled and that it would recover completely with more rest and to stop the swimming since that was aggravating it. We rested her for 3 more weeks with short walks and she has made a wonderful recovery.
If you’re unsure whether your dog’s knee is the actual problem area, I would recommend speaking to your vet about the possibility of a groin pull. He/she can examine for that at the same time. We are SO glad that we never went ahead with that surgery. Lucy would have been in pain for no reason at all. According to our vet, groin muscle pulls can be so bad that the dog will exhibit exactly the same symptoms as a knee problem, ACL tear, etc.