Conservative Management – Noelle

conservative management

Noelle is a 5-year-old female German Shepherd/Lab mix. On Dec. 23 she came home limping from our yard. She was holding her rear left leg up. Next morning we let her go in the yard and she started running around but again came home limping. We didn’t restrict her a lot since we didn’t know what was causing her to limp. We started walking her on leash but allowed her go up and down the stairs inside the house. Two weeks passed but she didn’t seem to get better with her limp, so we took her to a vet on Jan 9. The vet told us that it might be a cruciate ligament rupture and needed to take an x-ray to confirm. I got confused and asked for some time to think. The vet prescribed Rimadyl 75mg twice a day for 5 days and Noelle was restricted to limited activities only. Later, I got an appointment for an x-ray on Jan 16.

After the vet took the x-ray, she recommended a few surgeons for TPLO and told us that it will cost $3,000- $4,000 and continued with Rimadyl for another week. After that we started calling hospitals to get estimates. Meanwhile, me and my husband started Googling about ACL injuries. After reading through the information, experiences, and advice, I started looking for more information about ACL injury and recovery without surgery. I was surprised with the information provided on your site and am very glad that we didn’t rush Noelle into surgery. We also stopped giving her Rimadyl and got her started on a Glucosamine booster supplement which has 600mg Glucosamine and 200mg Chondroitin.

conservative management

For 2 weeks noelle was restricted with her activities and she started showing improvement. She started putting a little body weight on her rear left leg while walking. Based on the information on the site, I knew that I have to be patient with the recovery. Even though Noelle showed little improvement I was not sure whether I am doing the right thing for her or not. I was feeling guilty too. After reading all the experiences and success stories about CM I was hoping that Noelle could be one of them. We restricted her activity a lot. She was not allowed on stairs, no jumping, only leash walk 7-8 times a day for maximum of 5-10 minutes each. I changed her food gradually to healthy weight dog formula which has Glucosamine and Chondrotin, started giving her one boiled egg everyday, and added GlycoFlex3 to her diet. Everything together seemed to have worked for Noelle. We gradually increased her walk to 10-15 minutes for 4-5 times a day.

Now, we have started walking her 40 minutes in the morning and half an hour in the evening. During the day 5 minute walks 2-3 times. She is totally fine and very much recovered. NO MORE limping. She walks perfectly fine and uses her injured leg as her earlier normal self. We are so happy that she is perfectly fine now and we are glad that we didn’t put her under knife!! Just to be safe, she is only on leash walks. We don’t send her in the yard on her own and still she is not allowed to play with any other dog. I think I will wait for 4 more months for Noelle to play with her husky friend.

8 thoughts on “Conservative Management – Noelle

  1. Hi,
    Is this Sandhya? I just want to make sure this is the correct Noelle and dog momma who left a comment for me on Bettys post.

    Even after nine years, I still have new mom syndrome. The following morning after Sebastian hurt himself, I took one look at his eyes and knew he was in severe pain and called his vet.I did not expect his vet to drop a bomb of a ruptured CCL. I figured it was just a pulled hamstring muscle and only wanted to make sure it was still safe to give him Rimadyl. Plus, we were headed into the weekend. Sebastian kept my husband awake the night before. Like a child, he insisted that my husband stayed next to him with his hand on his back. If he dared to move, Sebastian would pop his head up. This behavior is how we know when he is terribly sick or hurt.

    How much does your pretty bright eyed Noelle weigh?

    Sebastian weighs about 94-100 pounds. His weight typically goes up during our brutal Alaskan winters, but at this time he isn’t overweight. He is a BIG dog! His body is more like a Golden Retriever than a Lab. In fact, if he didn’t have a black coat people would think he was Golden. You know everyone always thinks all black dogs are Labs. Ha ha. They always say “Gosh, that’s a big black lab” and I reply he is half Golden. If you look closely at him you’ll see that his body is not shaped like a standard Lab.

    It’s curious that your vet recommended 75 mg 2x per day of Rimadyl. Ours are 100 mg, but our vet wasn’t clear on how much to give Sebastian. I gave him 1 per day in the evening, and per our vet’s advice used Benadryl to help keep him calm. He didn’t give me a dosage, so I just used the smallest amount possible at 25 mg in the morning. It doesn’t knock him out, but it does help curtail excessive movement like jumping and prancing when someone comes in the door. Stairs, hardwood… it’s all cause for concern.

    From what I understand, bigger dogs benefit more from the TPLO surgery with metal screws, and the surgery with the thick fishing line thing is better for small dogs because the bigger guys tend to break the line and end up needing another surgery. I figure if surgery is necessary, it will be the procedure that is likely to land us back in this position again to repair a failed CCL surgery.

    At the same time, I do not love the idea of a surgery! The thought makes me sick to my stomach but so does the thought of him never being able to run again or play fetch. It is just awful, and I feel a burden of guilt that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    So far, we have kept him calm downstairs. He has only been upstairs just one time in five days, and that was because he snuck up.

    I’ve ordered Missing Link Hip and Joint (it greatly helps with shedding too) and Land and Sea Health Nutrition for Pets. It has the following supplements in it: Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, Organic Coral Calcium, NZ Green Lipped Mussel, Hawaiian Kona Berries & Organic Turmeric, No Taste or Odour, USA made.

    Standard Process Ligaplex ii is what our vet suggested, but Sebastian is gluten intolerant. Figuring that out alone was an expensive nightmare, and I’m not willing to throw away $60-80 on supplements that neither he or I can take. As a Celiac seeing Wheat Germ as an ingredient deters me; despite that, it’s believed gluten is processed out of Wheat Germ. Every intolerance or sensitivity creates inflammation in the body, even a mild inflammation on a regular basis is just not good for overall health. Even when inflammation doesn’t appear to cause physical symptoms, it can attack the joints and cartilage in humans and dogs alike. I wish we could take Ligaplex ii because the reviews are astoundingly positive!

    We have a soft, supportive brace along with a harness on order from out of the country. I believe it’s the Ortho Canis one. It was the most affordable option for now. When and if the time comes, we will have a custom Robo-Leg made for our boy, but you know….. $1,000???? Talk about sticker price shock! I’ll just keep most of my opinions hushed, but I will tell you that my husbands Robo-Leg brace for his knee that is five times the size of dogs leg cost just as much! SMH. Once the soft brace arrives and we can see how well it works, we will order another one for his right leg. All this talk about the high risk of problems with the other CCL scares the crap out of me! Plus, we live in Alaska and go through periods of brutal temperatures and have thick slick ice to contend with for many months. This is another reason why surgery isn’t off the table. We can’t keep him cooped up inside until nicer weather arrives. He’d be inside for 6-7 months out of every year.

    Is it accurate that there’s a 50-70% chance the other CCL tearing or rupturing? If so, dear Lord help us.

    I have used Hottie-Tottie hand warmers, and a Thermacare back wraps to apply heat to his back leg, and I also use a microwaveable bean filled heat pack on his leg. I think the bean bag; hacky sack type one works a little better. My friend’s mom made it for me to use on my neck and it’s nice because it kind of just conforms to Sebastian’s leg no matter which position he lies in. They’re an easy, affordable DIY that works. Therefore, with my limited knowledge, I do recommend this as part of recovery from a CCL injury.

    In the evening I apply a cold wrap that I use on my neck. The shape of this one is not ideal for a dogs knee, but it works. I think I will make a smooshy one similar to the bean bag hacky sack one. My plan is to use rice instead of beans and mix in dried lavender, chamomile and some healing type essential oils that are safe for dogs. Sebastian enjoys the scent of flowers and herbs. Thankfully, he’s good about not trying to eat them.

    Turmeric powder and Chia seeds have been sprinkled on his meals for over two years now. Just in the past few days, I’ve discovered a new way of feeding him turmeric by using a recipe that I found on It’s kind of neat how water and turmeric heated up turns it into a thick paste. Instead of using olive oil, I used coconut oil because it’s one of Bugs favorite things. I also added a ton of Chia seeds to the gravy paste and made a batch large enough to last for several days. I just heat it up in the microwave and add a little bit of water at the end to help thin it and cool it down.

    Besides the other two questions, I do have a few more-
    -What are the benefits of adding an egg to Noelle’s diet?
    -Did you wait a full two weeks before allowing her short leashed walks?
    -How many months or weeks has it been before you were able to take her on 40-minute walks?

    Sebastian’s injury is only five days old. He started toe-touching a few days ago and is slowly putting pressure on his injured leg, but he still limps. The supplements still aren’t here which is aggravating.
    In two weeks, we will go to the surgery center and look into having an x-ray done. I would like to know the exact amount of damage before deciding whether surgery should be done. Depending on the results, it would be better to have surgery sooner than later when he is older and a full blown senior. Either way, he will have arthritis. It’s all just so much to think about, and there are so many things to consider that it’s overwhelming. I just want him to be happy, healthy and be able to play like he normally does.

    Thank you for listening to me. I don’t have anyone to talk to who truly understands the gravity of this type of injury and why it also hurts me. Dogs are family. They aren’t “just a dog’. I’m sorry for going on and on too. I’m just really frightened and so unsure of everything that I’m doing to help him heal.

    🙂 Olivia

    1. Olivia, I can so relate to your fear and isolation. There is a great facility in PA called My Pet’s Brace Place. They make human grade orthotic braces for dogs. The problem is one I often discovered when I lived in AK…travel logistical. Best wishes.

  2. I agree dogs are not “just dog” They are dogs for others . After reading all about CM and TPLO .I was on a mission that I would try everything before making decision for TPLO.
    I had so many questions and doubts ..whether I am doing right thing for Noelle..I cried..It was tough. She injured in end of Dec.2016 I didn’t pay that much attention to that. She was still limping after 2 weeks ,so I took her to vet ..(wrote her whole story on this site)
    had her x-rays, blood work. I feel that before taking her to the vet I should have read all these sites. Vet had to give her sedation for X-rays .Later came to know that it’s hard to make out ACL rupture through X ray!
    Now its June 2017 ,In 5 months Noelle is back to normal. But still I won’t let her play with her friend. I want to increase her activities gradually.
    answer to your question-
    add eggs to her diet for protein
    in first two weeks I took her out for several times for 5/10 minutes (mostly sniffing)
    Patience is the key in CM

    1. Oh geez…. I looked up what you said about the x-rays and sure enough it doesn’t show anything that would convince me his CCL is indeed ruptured.

      We have noticed that he is infatuated with licking the paw on the same leg that supposedly has a CCL injury.

      After Benadryling him two nights ago, my husband was able to finally touch that leg. Sebastian allowed him to rub all over the right leg but when it came to his left leg he popped his head up when the area around the achilles was touched closest to his paw on the outer side.

      It’s not an achilles rupture for sure! That is very obvious as a dogs entire hock will lay flat like a human foot.

      I’m fixing to call his BFF’s vet and go for that second opinion. All I know is that I want to see this drawer shift with my own eyes. After watching numerous videos on how to manipulate the leg, I’m not convinced it’s even the CCL. Why would his paw be causing him pain? Plus, Sebastian lays across that knee in positions that should logically hurt the knee area. I’m so confused.

      Thank you so much for your kindness and for sharing so much information with me.


    2. Hi there. Thank you so much for your story! It seems like Noelle is about the same size as my Pit/Boarder Collie Mix, Fiona. Fiona tore her ACL back in June, and it is now October. We’ve been doing CM and loading her up with supplements. We’ve also been doing laser treatment to reduce inflammation, but I’m not completely sure that it’s working. Fiona is way better than she was at first. But she’s not fixed. She still limps when first getting up, and does have a mild limp after she gets going. Sometimes she toe touches. Sometimes she puts her bad paw down basically all the way, but is still definitely leaning on her good leg. I think the past month or so we’ve been even more strict with the CM. I’m hoping that will make a difference. I’m encouraged to see a success story with a bigger dog. As you can probably guess from her breed, Fiona is a bundle of energy. It has been extremely difficult keeping her from bouncing around like she’s used to, but I just can’t put her through the pain of surgery. She doesn’t seem to be in much pain now, and she’s still as happy as can be. Please let me know if you have any other advice for us.

  3. Hi, thank you for sharing your stories, its so hard when they’re injured as like you say they’re part of the family. I’m sat knowing my 10 yr old golden retriever is going in for TPLO surgery in the morning and I’m so worried I’ve made the wrong decision!

    We’re living on borrowed time as it is as 7 months ago we found she had many tumours in her lungs. We were told she only had a few months, chemo may work … but may not … may make her worse … may make her better …
    In the end, after MUCH deliberation, decided to let nature take its course and make sure she lived the last few months of her life to the full. 7 months on, she is as mad as ever and seems fine apart from some limping more recently – always seemed fine the next morning though. Last weekend however, she couldn’t put any weight on her back leg which continued the next day and we then were told by the vet she had probably ruptured her ACL.
    We now had the option of pain relief and what is described here as conservative management, or have the op. I so don’t want to put her through a big operation when she may not have long left but on the other hand, she doesn’t have time for us to try conservative management. I just want the option that will heal the leg quicker and buy her some time to enjoy life again before the tumours take hold. If we don’t have the op, I feel I’m subjecting her to walks on the lead possibly for the rest of her life and limping around (as its likely the tumours will have affected her before the ACL has time to heal), if we do have the op, so many more possible complications …

    Good luck to Noelle and Sebastian, I really hope you’re all successful with the conservative management, it’s good to hear there are other options other than taking the vets recommendations of operations. I so wish I knew I had enough time with her to try them but think I’m going to have to go with the op … fingers crossed
    Holly xx

    PS I’ve been using turmeric as well for a while now … I heard it could have good anti cancer properties, decided it was worth a shot! who knows, maybe she wouldn’t have lasted the last 7 months if I hadn’t, maybe it had no effect at all but I’d like to think it did 🙂

    1. Hi Holly,
      We will keep you in our prayers. My Sebastian is half Golden too. The C word scares me as I know our babies are at high risk for it.

      On my quest to figure out this CCL stuff, I discovered an amazing Vet on Youtube. Look up Vetinary Secrets. He is an amazing guy and has videos addressing the C word and a multitude of natural options. I pray your pup pulls through all of this and is able to mend.

      As for you, there are a ton of ways to fight C naturally and it’s worth a shot. If I run across anything that I believe is beneficial, I’ll be happy to let you know. You can find me on my website Reinvented Collection.

      I also run a small Facebook group called Doggy Furkids and Their People Parents. We are a great community of dog lovers supporting each other. You’re welcome to hang out with us and reach out. One of my BFF’s is like the female version of Dog Whisperer. She has immense knowledge about dogs and is active in rescue work in Arizona. She always hops on when folks have questions.

      Wishing you and your family all the best, oxo

  4. Hi everyone,
    I am reading your stories for comfort. Our Ruby is 8 years old American Bully and is 70 lbs. In May 2016 she was diagnosed with a partial CCL tear in the back left leg. She was stiff and limping but not on 3 legs. We did CM with rimadyl for 2 weeks and all the necessary supplements. We did laser therapy for 6 weeks and chiropractic. After a year, she was good. She would get sore after too much hard play but overall we were pleased. Well, on Friday 9/7/18, she was playing and must have twisted the right leg because after her nap she woke up and was on 3 legs, the good leg up in the air! This was worse than the left so we were so scared. Gave rimadyl and the next day, she was limping but using the right leg. Have had her on Rimadyl and strict rest since Friday and shes ok…her demeanor is the same, happy and normal but limping all the same. I am using CBD oil 2x day and rimadyl only 1x day. Praying we can restrict her activity to get this leg healed. Patience is key. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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