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Bikini – Double Torn CCL Conservative Management

Bikini during conservative management of double CCL tears

In late August 2018, I noticed my 7-years old English bulldog Bikini, showed some lameness (rear right leg) off and on for a bit. After 2-3 weeks, seeing this was not going away that she was now hesitant to go up and down the stairs, not following us in the house or willing to spend some time outside in the yard with me, we went to a vet (specialized in orthopedic surgery). The vet diagnosed torn CCL on both legs (positive drawer test and a bit of arthritis showing on X-Ray, but the report does not say if they were fully or partially torn). She offered us to book us for TPLO surgery the same week. She mentioned she would have to do one leg after the other (2 surgeries) and that a 2 months rehab for each leg would be needed. Cost of the surgery: 4500$ CAD per leg. This was in mid-September. She mentioned other options as well but was really pushing the TPLO, which seems to be her specialty. I said I would think about it and went home with my dog.

I consulted my “family” vet who also thought TPLO was the best option. Still, I could not get my head around it. Bikini was walking and was not in such bad shape. I was afraid to put her through this invasive surgery (twice!) involving significant risks (anesthesia and infection complications just to name 2 ). So I did lots and lots of research. I could not find any studies that would show the superiority of the surgery between dogs that had the surgery and dogs that did not. Most studies compared different types of surgeries between them or the same dogs before and after surgery. The following article written by a vet questioning the surgery was really helpful to me (https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/questioning-canine-cruciate-ligament-surgery/), same for this vet at Roscoe village proposing alternative stem cell treatment to conventional surgery. (http://www.roscoevillageanimalhospital.com/uncategorized/new-treatment-for-acl-tears-in-dogs/). Finally, I came across this website and across tiggerpoz.com which really convinced me to try conservative management.

I consulted my “family” vet who also thought TPLO was the best option. Still, I could not get my head around it. Bikini was walking and was not in such bad shape. I was afraid to put her through this invasive surgery (twice!) involving significant risks (anesthesia and infection complications just to name 2 ). So I did lots and lots of research. I could not find any studies that would show the superiority of the surgery between dogs that had the surgery and dogs that did not. Most studies compared different types of surgeries between them or the same dogs before and after surgery. The following article written by a vet questioning the surgery was really helpful to me (https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/questioning-canine-cruciate-ligament-surgery/), same for this vet at Roscoe village proposing alternative stem cell treatment to conventional surgery. (http://www.roscoevillageanimalhospital.com/uncategorized/new-treatment-for-acl-tears-in-dogs/). Finally, I came across this website and across tiggerpoz.com which really convinced me to try conservative management.

So we started a 2-month controlled exercise, leased walks, no jumping on and off furniture, no stairs (in the house, but allowed the few stairs to go outside) when under our watch. I tried to keep her to a single floor of the house but this lasted one week of 2, not getting much support from my hubby. We also put carpets at some strategic locations so she would not slide on the wooden floors and be able to go up and down the stairs or furniture more easily when we were not there. I forbade her from coming in the kitchen, where she would regularly slip on the tile floor before she was diagnosed with torn CCL.

We started her on Cartrophen (1 injection per week for 4 weeks, then 2 more injections given 1 month apart). Started her on daily supplements (flexadin advanced (collagen II) and Deley’s natural Advanced Hip & Joint Supplement. Kept her on Acana Grass fed Lamb, and made sure to keep her weight as low as we could (she is about 50 pounds now). For the days that Bikini was really not putting much weight on her leg, we opted for one dose of Rheumocam (NSAID), which did miracle every time (used it maybe 3 or 4 times over a course of 4 months). The weeks passed and Bikini kept getting better, although she did had a few setbacks. After 6 weeks, her lameness on the right leg was gone, but then she started limping from the other leg. At this time, we decided we would give it another 2 months to decide if we would go with the surgery. After 2 more months, the limping on the left leg was gone.

Today, 5.5 months after the initial diagnosis, Bikini is 8-years old and back to her old happy self: full of energy (as much as a bulldog can be), eager to get up in the morning to eat, able again to sit down with both her legs tuck underneath her, following me everywhere in the house. We are continuing the supplements, keeping her on a strict diet and will soon restart the cartrophen (1 injection per month, recommended by a vet we saw recently and provided Bikini with osteopathic and acupuncture treatment). We are still avoiding intense exercises (fetch, play with other dogs), at least until the summer.

I am so grateful for the information that I received from this group. There is hope! Thank You!

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