Dorie’s ACL injury journey started in November 2019 as I was rushing to get ready for work on a Friday morning. I had just let her outside to use the bathroom and she made her normal rounds of barking at the deer and letting the neighbors know she was up.
When she was coming back inside I noticed her limping. Not really thinking much of it because it was wet outside and I thought maybe she just slipped, I let my husband know to keep an eye on her when he got home and to keep me updated. Later that day, he noticed that she was still limping and not really getting around like normal, so I sent him to the pet store to get some dog Aspirin. We initially thought maybe she had just pulled something, so between the Aspirin and a heating pad, we hoped for some relief.
The weekend ended and Dorie still hadn’t made any progress of getting better, so I made an appointment to get her checked out at the vet. Of course they deal with animal injuries all the time, so he gave me several options on what the possible injury was, one of which was an ACL tear. We had an appointment set for the following day to do a sedated physical and x-rays to confirm his suspicions and were sent home with some Rimadyl and Tramadol. Of course, when I got home I Googled dog ACL tears and came upon this website (amongst many others).
The following day after her x-rays and physical, it was confirmed that it was a full ACL tear. Now I am in full panic mode! First off because my dog will need surgery and secondly I was given numerous surgery options/costs to decide from. Let me just say that my vet is awesome! Not only did we have several conversations on the phone throughout the day, I also spoke with him in person about what option he personally would do for his dogs. He mentioned that he completed the Lateral Suture/Tightrope Surgery for an associate vet’s dog that was 120 pounds and it healed rather well with no complications (other than a slight limp on occasion).
After talking it over more with family, we decided to do the Lateral Suture Surgery (Tightrope) due to the fact that the vet told us the other leg had a 40-60% chance of going out as well. And let’s be honest, I wasn’t about to pay $4,500 for one knee when I might be in the same boat again soon.
We got things ready for Dorie around the house for surgery time. I spoke with some friends who also had dogs with ACL injures (which I didn’t know about until that time) to see what things they couldn’t live without during surgery/recovery time. We ended up installing a ramp on one of the porches, got a small pen for the family area (so her rambunctious sister wouldn’t hurt her), set up her large cage in the bedroom and purchased an inflatable e-collar and a sling harness. We also purchased several recommended joint supplements (Naturvet was our favorite). She is a bit picky about pills, so they have to be soft or shoved into some form of food (hot dogs, cheese sticks and pill pockets were our friends in the coming months). The vet called on surgery day and said things went well. Now for recovery …
We followed the normal recommended recovery restrictions and physical therapy exercises that our vet gave us – no running or jumping and she needed assistance in walking for a while. Recovery went well for about 3 weeks and then we noticed one morning that she was favoring her leg she had surgery on and then she wouldn’t walk at all. We ran her emergently to the vet thinking her leg was injured again. They determined that she had a partial tear in her other leg. We had seen another doctor at our normal vet office and she suggested doing laser therapy on both of her legs to help develop scar tissue to help heal them quicker.
After the first initial package of laser treatments that were twice a week (for a month), we noticed a significant difference so we continued with several packages. The vet mentioned that is something that you don’t want to just quit; you want to wean them off of it. We started laser therapy around the middle of December going twice a week and eventually ended in May. During the laser therapy time, we continued the Rimadyl and Tramadol and eventually weaned her off both by the end March.
Dorie is back to her normal self now! While she still sleeps on the floor (on one of 6 beds we have available) and uses stairs or lift assistance to get into the vehicles, she is back to running around outside and annoying the neighbors with her barking in the wee hours of the morning. We have continued the joint supplements (and will for the foreseeable future) and have some Rimadyl on standby in case she has a day where she is very active.
I am grateful for websites like this that help aid others in making the hard decision on what type of surgery to do for their pet! It has definitely helped me along my journey!