Should I Get a Second Opinion? Asia’s Story

Asia the Pit Bull’s story came to me via email. I thought it was important to share both to help Asia’s owner get some feedback on how to proceed with recovery, and to also illustrate many of the questions that plague us as we decide what the best approach for our dog.

As you will read in Asia’s story below, one of the most common questions I am often asked is whether or not someone should get a second opinion for their dog’s cruciate ligament diagnosis.

To put it simply, my answer is always YES – if you are questioning whether or not to get a second opinion you should do it. Veterinarians vary greatly in their approaches to CCL injuries, and it is important for you to find someone that you feel will work with you to resolve your dog’s issue in the way you find most suitable; whether that be a more conservative approach or going right into surgery. There really are no “wrong” decisions here, it just depends on your particular dog, situation and preferences.

Asia’s Story

Torn CCL in DogsI have a 12 year old Pit bull. Sweetest dog I’ve ever had in my life. She’s never acted old, she’s very healthy, vibrant and fun as ever, people even think she’s a puppy.

Last Sunday she ran around a little too rough with the other dog and came in the house limping. I didn’t think it was anything serious. But then I noticed it wasn’t getting any better. I thought I’d check both legs, check her paws, her ankles.

5 days later I noticed her knee was POPPING, I could feel and hear a clicking sound going in and out when she would sit down. I then had a sick feeling overcome me, just predicting it was going to be bad. I researched on-line and everything I read was terrifying.

Dog Ligament InjuriesI called the vet the next day and got her an appointment. He explained that the ligament had possibly torn, and that the bones were rubbing together. He compared it to an acl tearing in a human, but he said to be careful because it could rupture. He told us to wait two weeks to see if anything would get better.

The longer we wait, the more I feel we should get a second opinion. What if waiting causes more damage, irreversible damage? I’ve read that arthritis could quickly set in if injury is not treated with surgery right away, or surgery can have a harder time recovering the more I wait.

My dog is depressed, lonely, gaining weight and in pain. It hurts to see her like this. I have limited funds, I am a student and it’s Christmas time and I’ve never been more stressed.

My question is.. should I wait the two weeks or go with my instinct and get surgery as soon as possible? I am willing to take out a big loan from the bank to pay for my dog. The other issue is, she is older. And recovery may be very, very, very had for her. I have put her on a raw holistic diet, and I mix a senior multi vitamin supplement in her food. I have given her omega 3 as well..

Anything else you can reccommend?

1 Month Update

Since the injury I’ve put Asia on Holistic raw food, omega 3 fatty acids and a natural anti inflammatory supplement for bone heath as well as doing conservative management for over a month now.

Some days Asia seems like she’s not in pain at all and will try to run with the other dog (which I have to stop her!), gets excited when she’s about to eat, if she sees another dog she gets excited, and heck she even acted like she wasn’t in pain at all at the vets.

But other days she limps around, and lays down at every chance she gets…and that popping sound is terrifying me. It’s almost impossible to tell if conservative management is working. We took her to the vet again and he asked us if she was getting better, and I honestly couldn’t tell him. I told him I was worried that it may get worse the longer we wait, or that the other leg will give out, or the other front legs will be over worked. He understood my concerns and talked about the TPLO surgery. Because of her age he seemed apprehensive in performing it. He discussed with me the risks/ cons to the surgery. He said he wanted to give Asia a blood test to see if she would be healthy enough to handle the anesthetic. I agreed.

The blood test results were very good. He’s surprised at how healthy she is for her age. He then referred our Asia to a specialist outside of town who performs the TPLO surgery. He said they did it at their hospital, but their way isn’t as advanced. All her information is now sent to this hospital I just need to contact them to set up a date to see Asia. So as it stands, we are deciding on whether Asia should do surgery or continue the conservative management. I am going to call the hospital our vet referred us too tomorrow and get that second opinion.

3 thoughts on “Should I Get a Second Opinion? Asia’s Story

  1. I agree … if you’re asking whether you should get a second opinion that’s a sigh you should.

    So the vet is convinced it is a torn ligament but wants to wait? Was the drawer sign positive? I agree that waiting is not a good plan with this type of injury, particularly if the diagnosis is conclusive. If there is reasonable belief that the cruciate is damaged then it is best to start doing something right away, whether in terms of surgery or conservative management.

    Also the dog should not have to be in pain; what has been done for pain management?

    1. He offered Anti-inflammatory medication/pain killers. Though he explained the risks with using this. One being that if she were to take the medication she wouldn’t feel anything and not go easy on the leg, therefore causing more damage, he used the word ” possible rupture”. He also said there was a risk because she’s an older dog that it can have side effects such as liver and kidney/heart issues which wouldn’t be recommended if we decide to go ahead and perform surgery. I don’t understand how waiting could help either. Maybe he wanted to see the severity of the injury in order to go ahead and do the surgery route, and waiting was the first option.

      1. Hi Sarah.

        Well, I am not a fan of NSAIDs but some type of pain management is a good thing. Perhaps you might want to consider Traumeel or Dog Gone Pain, particularly Traumeel is a benign as they come.

        Yes, the downside of pain management is that he might over-use the limb and potentially make the ligament worse. On the other hand, downside of lack of pain management, aside from the obvious – pain, is under-use of the limb, resulting muscle atrophy and over-use of the other limb and other compensation issues. It can even happen that by favoring the injured leg it might cause the other ligament to go, follow what I mean?

        So I am a believer in pain management, for the dog’s sake and for the sake of the limbs.

        I think that if the diagnosis is firm and the ligament is injured, something needs to be done. Conservative management can work but I believe it is best to provide some kind of support to the joint stability – whether it’s a surgery or a brace.

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