Well here it goes. Our 8-year-old black lab mix, Angus, has always been a very high energy athletic dog. A few months ago, he turned up lame on the right side, not putting his foot down, etc. We didn’t witness the event that caused this, but it was likely running through the yard doing his normal crazy lab stuff. At any rate, an initial exam by our regular vet said he thought “it might be” a CCL tear or partial tear and recommended we try Rimadyl and rest to see if he improves. He did improve and we were relieved. Then he re-injured the same leg, and did not recover as quickly. We continued to monitor him and over time he showed signs of improvement, but we still felt we needed to get to the bottom of it and find out for sure what the injury was.
I took him about 2 weeks ago to see an ortho and he confirmed through the drawer test that it was indeed a tear. Bummer. We discussed the surgical options (TTA, TPLO) and the doctor advised against conservative management or a brace, stating that conservative management would be lucky to yield him about 50% of his activity/mobility back, and that dogs don’t like to wear the braces. Since he had been doing pretty well, we figured we had a little time to do our (my) homework on surgery and figure out the finances. Then last week Angus injured himself again (the opposite leg this time, unfortunately) and was in a lot of pain. I started him on Tramadol, which helped with the pain, but after several days, no real improvement in walking. I took him yesterday to the ortho (a different doctor than the first time) and confirmed my worst suspicions: the left is now torn too.
So now we are faced with a bilateral surgery which we can’t afford, or conservative management which I know nothing about. I’m not sure we could do a brace on both legs–that seems like it would be very cumbersome and uncomfortable for Angus. My husband is not at all on board with spending the money for the surgery (this is not Angus’ first expensive surgery). I am concerned, don’t know what to do, and don’t know how to convince my husband that surgery is the right choice. I’m not even sure myself. I have called a few different vets in town (who would have no financial gain from the advice they gave) and ALL agreed that the TPLO would be the best choice. Any advice on the good or bad side of surgery would be most helpful. Thank you so much. I have gotten a lot of great information by reading some of the stories on here.