Lava – Extracapsular Lateral Suture

I have a 5 year old Jack Russell, Lava. She is a very hyperactive and energetic dog and, after her knee injury our life became very complicated since she couldn’t enjoy all of her normal activities. Firstly, when she started limping, I just thought it was something minor, like she stretched something or like that. She is literally wild outside, jumping digging…and I didn’t see when it actually happened, because she never yelp. So, after 2 weeks, she started to walk a bit normally, but then suddenly again limping, and basically walking on 3 legs.

We went to the doctor, got an x-ray, and when the diagnosis was confirmed, the doctor recommended the TPLO surgery. Lava’s weight is 8 kg or 17,60 pounds.

After some research, I went to another doctor and he recommended the Lateral Suture Technique or Extracapsular Repair. He said that for a dog that is so light, it is better to do this technique, because the results are great, and they don’t need to cut the bone in such a wider range. Also, he said, if (for any reason) this surgery won’t result with the outcome that we won’t, we can always do the TPLO again. He said if we did the TPLO, there is no going back. The difference is also the cost. TPLO would be 1750 USF in Slovenia, EU, and the Lateral Suture 350 USD in Croatia, EU. So I decided for the lateral suture. On the day of surgery, she received anesthesia with painkillers which held her for 24 hours. Surgery last for 1.5 hours. She woke up in the afternoon and I went for her. She was tired but in no pain, just laying in her cage resting.

She slept in bed with me the whole night. She was a bit sad and she slept “with one eye open”. But the first night went well, no yelping.

At our first appointment, we went to take some medicine (Antibiotic to prevent any infection and pain killers – all injections), and they removed the bandage and freed the leg, allowing the wound to heal better.

The first 3 days she was just lying around and I was carrying her outside to use the bathroom. She didn’t have any bowel movements for the first two days, because she had eaten very little. The first 5 days we were going to the vet every morning to get a pain-killer injection so she could relax, after that we got pills, which I was giving her twice a day.

I bought her a collar to prevent her from licking her wound, but she was very good and did not lick. I decided to use the collar anyways to be safe. On the 10th day, we went to the vet to remove the stitches. These were the outside stitches, she also had internal stitches but with resorptive thread.

For the first 2 weeks we were restricting her 100%; no jumping, running, playing rough or walking. She had a pee walk every day about within this range (on leash of course and carrying her on stairs – only straight surface, no uphill no downhills)
– first 3 days maybe 4-5 times a day, for 2-3 minutes
– 4th to 10th day, 4-5 times a da, for 5-10 minutes

After two weeks the walks were increased by my judgement (she started to touch the ground with operated leg, but no full weight bearing). So, we walked maybe 4-5 times daily for about 10 to 15 minutes maximum, because she felt better and wanted to sniff more around..and was very boring so I let her. Soon, she started to walk on 3 legs, and we went inside. Remember that it is normal that for the first month that they limp or walk on 3 legs, because it is a deep wound and the bones were drilled. All normal.

After 7 weeks we had our first swimming adventure. She was very happy because she loves to swim and the vet said it was okay since the wound was closed. Every week I increased daily walks – all on leash, but I let her do some digging on the 7-8 week, the leg was stable then and she was using her operated leg and rebuilding the muscle a bit every day. After 8 weeks I tried to go to the lake swimming activity 5 days a week, 30 minutes walk (on leash) and 15 minutes swimming. I noticed a rapid improvement after 2-3 weeks of swimming exercise.

We are now currently 10 weeks post op. For the last 3 weeks she is bearing almost 100% the operated leg, no limping, and the muscle is stronger (not as big as the healthy leg but getting there).
Be patient with therapy, observe every day if the leg is red or swollen. If the leg is not warm after exercise, that means everything is good, and you may be able to increase the walking a bit the following day. If the leg is red or warm on touch, let the dog have a rest day. Do it as you would do it for yourself. (I had an ACL repair surgery on my left knee so I kind a know how it is).

I was giving her a gentle scratching and gentle massage on her operated leg, and more firm massage on her other healthy leg because she was bearing that leg too much and the muscle was very hard. So I tried to relaxed it. After the wound was better and better every day I was massaging her operated leg also with circle and from paw to upper part of leg (toward heart) for circulation. She was enjoying that very much. We also did a back massage because the posture was not right after a few months on 3 legs.

There are glucosamine supplements that certainly help (repairing tendons and cartilage), but I also cooked for her bone broth (many minerals) and giving her real tendons from chicken legs (try buy that if you can, we have it here) I cooked 2-3 chicken legs, removed bones and she ate that. A lot of good collagen for her tissue recovery. I also give her salmon oil for omega 3.

Every day she is a bit better. Be patient and observe your dog’s leg and mood. Sometimes they need a gentle play and massage and some toy time. You have to be involved much more than you did when your dog was healthy. Because they can’t run and play as much now and it affects their keep that in mind. All that matters for good recovery in my opinion, and now I can say in my experience.

Warm regards from Lava and I

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