Should I Put Down A Dog With A Torn ACL?

Old dog at vet with torn ACL

For most of us, having a pet means loving an additional family member. This means that while our dogs are animals, the heart does not necessarily discern between love for another human versus an animal. Therefore the decision to put your pet down will always be an incredibly challenging one. 

Typically owners will choose to put their pet to permanent sleep when the quality of life for that pet has diminished to the point where there is more ongoing pain for the animal than there is pleasure. 

This point in time is never easy, however, there are times when it seems to be the best decision. But, does a torn ACL injury fall under the category of reasons to put your dog down? In most cases the answer is no, you will not need to put your dog down because of a torn ACL. Especially now with so many options available for treatment. However, in some rare cases where a dog is already elderly and suffering, a torn ACL may be the last straw.

Euthanasia for your dog is a difficult decision period; This article will help to explain the unfortunate conditions when it is appropriate to do so if your dog does have a torn ACL. Even though this is rarely the case, it may just be that you are considering this as an option for your dog. 

Putting Your Dog Down For An ACL Tear Is Not A Treatment Plan; It Is A Life Decision

We live in a world where there is a multitude of surgery options for dogs with torn ACLs. These surgical options include:

  • Lateral Suture (traditional option)
  • TTA Surgery
  • TPLO Surgery

Surgery to repair a dog’s ACL comes with very high success rates of recovery as well as a price tag.

Surgery is one of many treatment options: You can also choose Conservative Management, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, knee braces, physical therapy, and others. 

If your dog is overall very healthy, then you will not need to consider putting your dog down. Your dog will heal and recover from a torn ACL whether you choose surgery or an alternative approach, you will just need to give your dog time and loving care. 

You can expect your dog to bounce back to normal mobility and a happy mood with enough time in recovery.

So, when might an owner have to make the difficult decision to put their dog down after a torn ACL?

Old dog who may need to be put down

When To Consider Putting Your Dog Down After A Torn ACL?

  • Age 
  • Overall Health
  • Quality of Life

For most pet owners the thought of putting their dog down is a terrible position to be in emotionally, and it cannot be stressed enough that this is rarely necessary with a torn ACL. 

While most dogs recover easily from a torn ACL there are external factors that may cause an owner to consider euthanasia. The primary three factors include Age, the overall health of your dog, and quality of life. 

If your dog is already a senior citizen and experiencing a variety of related conditions, and then tears its ACL, it may be too much to recover from this injury. If your dog stops eating, drinking, or moving at all and is already elderly it may be time to discuss putting your dog down with your veterinarian. 

Further, if your dog is living with a serious condition such as cancer when they tear their ACL, and you have already been worried about the overall quality of life then you may begin to think about putting your dog down. Like the human body, if your dog is already fighting for its life because of a serious condition, then a torn ACL may require more energy than your dog currently has to recover from the tear. 

If the combination of age, illness or poor recovery from ACL surgery (or from the tear itself) has greatly diminished the quality of life for your dog, then perhaps you will want to consider putting your dog down. Always consult with your veterinarian for the most accurate overall picture of your dog’s health. 

A Torn ACL Does Not Necessitate Putting Your Dog Down Except For In Isolated Cases

Technology has evolved to the point that it is very promising that your dog will experience a full recovery from an ACL tear, and the factor of putting your dog down because of this injury is unlikely to be on the table for discussion. 

Ultimately this very difficult decision to put your pet down is a personal one that will be determined by very specific factors, and the only factor that really matters is the quality of life for your pet. 

If your dog is elderly, ill with pre-existing conditions, and the quality of their life is so poor that you feel euthanizing your dog is the most humane course of action, take some time to cherish your relationship with your dog, consult a professional, and come to a decision that sits right in your heart and one that you know you can live with.

Sources Cited:

  1. https://dogadvisorycouncil.com/when-to-put-a-dog-down-with-torn-acl/
  2. https://orthodog.com/article/dog-acl-tear-no-surgery/

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