Conservative Management for ACL – Madam Bijou

conservative management for acl

One morning, we noticed our Bichon Frise was limping. It was her left hind leg. The limp was noticeable and disturbing. She wasn’t whining or anything, but she wasn’t putting weight on it either.

I took her to 2 different vets. Both said it was her ACL and they recommended surgery. It was this site and another site that got me thinking. If the most surgery can do is stabilize the injury until it heals itself, then as long as I restricted her movement to some extent, it should heal itself. She did not seem to be in a great amount of discomfort or pain, other than ‘favoring’ that leg.

SO… We kept her inside. Only letting her out on leash so she could not run and jump. It took about 9 weeks, but her leg has healed COMPLETELY. Movement is no different than the other leg.

Surgery is always a last resort for us.

13 thoughts on “Conservative Management for ACL – Madam Bijou

  1. Hello, glad to hear your story and happy your Bichon has made such a great recovery. We are in a similar position with our 5 yr old ACD and surgery was also recommended. We are also researching other alternatives to surgery. Just wondering how your dog is doing now and if the injury has reoccurred? Many thanks for sharing your story and hope to hear back from you. Sincerely, Pam

  2. Wow! Great recovery story! We went through a similar thing with our dog, but since he was bit bigger than a Bichon (he’s a border collie mix) and SUPER active we got him a brace from WoundWear as a precautionary measure while his ACL tear healed. Crating him and leashing him wouldn’t be enough for “The Dog That Never Quits”, lol. So far so good, he’s nearly 100% recovered! Surgery was always going to be our last option, too.

    How is Madam Bijou doing?? (LOVE that name, by the way)

    1. HI Audrey…Our ACD (blue heeler) is 5 yrs old and sounds like a twin to your border collie mix. Nothing can stop her from going full tilt (likely the cause of the tear in the first place). She is scheduled for surgery July 18..thanks for the tip re: the brace for extra after care. Will be hard to keep her inactive but it must be done. She is currently eating pumpkin and low cal crunchies to get her weight down a bit. Pam

  3. Hi Pam!
    That’s funny about our dog “twins” Glad to help out! Yes, the A-trac brace post-surgery will be great for your dog. She’ll be able walk in the brace but it will be a good reminder to keep her from going crazy. Plus, it will give you peace of mind knowing you won’t have to be constantly monitoring her every move and worrying she might re-injure herself while you’re in the next room. Best of luck with the surgery! Hope everything goes smoothly 🙂

    1. HI Audrey, thanks for the reply. We have had to reschedule our dog’s surgery date as husband broke his leg…omg..he has surgery and will be down for 6 wks to 6 months. I am now just trying to keep Chelsea from running and jumping, will try the brace now for sure to prevent further tearing of the ligament. Bye for now…Pam

  4. Oh no!! You poor woman! When it rains, it pours. I hope your husband recovers quickly so you don’t have to take care of a husband AND a dog (who can’t walk) at the same time!! 🙁 Sending my extra good luck vibes to you!


  5. Hi! My 8 year old chocolate lab seems to be displaying an acl injury. I took her to the vet in Nov because she was favoring it, we put her on aspirin and small walks around the block. She did ok all winter, now she’s really “tri-podding” it, we don’t have he $ for X-rays and blood work etc ($600) let alone surgery if needed! I would like to know some advise on what to do here?? So sad for my pup!


    1. My three year old, ACD mix (big girl at 88 lbs so mixed with lab or ??????) jumped and landed badly last week. After a night of twisting and turning with no sleep, she wouldn’t put weight on the leg. I rushed her to the vet who showed me that the knee was moving like a drawer, definite ACL tear. Vet prescribed an NSAID and a pain killer. She mentioned surgery, but recommended lazer treatments first to see how that goes. I agreed, and my dog got her first treatment before we left the clinic that day.

      After we got home, my dog was hesitantly using the leg. The next morning she was stiff. I took her to the clinic for another round of time with the lazer. Later that day, she was walking normally. By the third day, the dog was practically beating me out the door to get to the clinic for the lazer treatment. By the fourth day, my dog didn’t want the pain killers anymore and was walking perfectly normally. On the fifth day, she started getting fussy about taking the chewable NSAID, so have gotten creative to get her to take it. She was moving around just fine. This is Day Six, and she goes in for a lazer treatment this afternoon. She is scheduled for two more treatments this week and three a week for the rest of the month. We haven’t been playing ball with her since the surgery, but it would be impossible to keep her from playing with her litter mate. She was not given a brace. So far so good.

      She seems almost back to normal, but we are going to complete the course of treatments with the lazer therapy and NSAIDs (with pain killer when she seems to need it). We’ll see what happens.

      1. Hi Eli, our German shepherd ACL tear and we are doing the something you did for your baby, we are wondering if your dog needed the surgery? we are currently doing the laser treatments right now. A response and your advice will help so much. thank you Marisela

  6. Well, Guess I should have been on here before now. My 70 lb black & tan hound did a tight turn and injured left rear leg. Was holding it up initially, then just favoring it. Took him into vet who manipulated it under sedative and took x ray & said probably just a strain/sprain as could not push leg bone away from the knee. Okay, waited a few weeks and then did controlled walking, gradually increasing for another 6-7 weeks and then let my boy run. He is a hunting dog that is a pet. Well, that did not work, started holding leg up again, now he has been off it for 5-6 weeks, holds leg at angle but puts some weight on it. I am taking into surgeon tomorrow for evaluation. I am not sure I gave him time to heal before letting him loose, will discuss with the vet that does the surgery…..believe me not going to rush into that….will ask him about the laser treatments also…..if you have any input, let me know. Oh yes, the boy is ten years old but in really great shape, we used to exercise a few miles 2-3 times a week.

  7. Okay……..the vet wants to do a $4000. operation with steel plates in his leg…what? What if it fails? With aspirin, my dog can walk on that leg, just not miles…..I am not going to cripple my dog just so I can enjoy watching him run again. SO, we are going to do some hydrotherapy and cold laser treatments, will end up costing some $600.00. Worth a try, plus the therapist can help me help my dog in amount of exercise I can give him. This way, I feel I am doing something extra for Dexter (my dog), but not risking making him a handicapped three legged dog. PS. I am already giving my dogs more than enough glucosamine/choindroitin, contained in the dog food they eat. Will let you guys know,.

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