Traditional Repair After Conservative Management – Tango

Tango is our 5yr old Australian Red Cattle Dog. Approximately one and a half years ago, Tango started going lame in her right hind leg. She always recovered in a day or so, and the lameness was only apparent after she had been sleeping for some time.

After a couple of months she was due for her needles. I mentioned this lameness to our vet, who diagnosed a partial knee ligament tear. She was extremely active, chasing balls for 30 mins every afternoon and a 5 km walk every morning. The vet suggested rest to see if it healed.

We decided to use a conservative method. She recovered very well. We started to increase her exercise levels after the 6 month mark, she was starting to play and run around off lead with no bad effects. We were very cautious when adding ball games, not allowing her to chase the ball, only to retrieve it after we had thrown it and it stopped bouncing. All was going according to plan and we were very happy.

We then made the decision to allow her playfriend over, a 12yr old jack russell. They played several times with no problems, then one day she was lame again, the feeling of depair was unbelieveable. After going back to the conservative method again, she was not recovering as she had before. The limp was there nearly every time she rose after a sleep. We decided to get her operated on. She weighs 21 kgs and the vet made the decision which method was best for her and her active lifestyle.

I am so impressed with her, she has the best nature imaginable! I got the crate 3 days before and got her used to it. No problems there.

She didn’t have any arthritic changes, which i was worried about because of the time from the first lameness. The bandage fell off on day 2, but she didn’t worry the wound at all. Some allergic reaction to the stitches, but no real problems. She has been an angel, just sleeping in her crate and chewing kong toys.

I take her out on the leash for a few hours every afternoon and sit in the backyard with her. At least she can watch the world go by. She was putting weight on it within a few days.

We are now at week 5 and she walks without pain or limping. I have started to allow her a trot now and then, very little signs of limping. I have been doing the passive range of motion from day 5, and think it has helped. Her leg is quite thin, but when the weather warms up, I have ponds near me that she can swim in. Hopefully she continues to improve. We will be sure to keep her weight down, and she will only be allowed to play ball in the pond.

I hope she never needs the 2nd leg done, but at 5yrs old i know there is a good chance it will happen. Good luck to everyone out there going thru this, it is very stressful. When tango went in for the stitches removal, my vet asked how we were and not how the dog was!

9 thoughts on “Traditional Repair After Conservative Management – Tango

  1. I am happy to hear she’s doing so well. It’s so important to build that muscles on the affected leg gradually over the next 6 months. You express some concern over injuring the other leg. I am told the closer you canget to a 1/2″ or less differential between the thighs of both legs, the less chance you have of another injury. Swimming will do nicely, I am sure, as it is a low impact – high work load method. She’s so adorable in her photos!

  2. Great to read about Tango!

    My 7 year old Australian Shepherd had the traditional surgery to repair the torn cruciate ligament in his left rear leg last Thursday.

    We took the conservative management route when my Aussie injured his knee last October. My vet gave us Rimadyl, we started a Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplement, and he seemed to heal. We put away the tennis balls and Frisbees, took walks that didn’t involve hills, and chilled out for about 6 months. It really wasn’t that bad. As he progressed, one thing we did for fun was play with a soccer ball. I walked and dribbled the ball with my feet and he followed along. This kept him low to the ground, engaged his mind, and provided a way to burn some energy.

    Sometime in the last week of September he started limping and could put no weight on the leg. The ligament had completely torn and I discussed the options with my vet. We went with the traditional surgery.

    The first week of recovery hasn’t been the easiest, but it is not as bad as I thought. He stays in the den. Tall baby gates block the doors and he is blocked from jumping up on the couches by a couple of foot stools. I have a wide board with a throw rug on it to cover two steps that we use as a ramp to go outside. 9 days after the surgery he is doing great. It’s a serious recovery regimen – no stairs, outside only on a leash, no running, no jumping, cautious physical therapy for now – but it’s okay.

    This site has been so very helpful both before and after the surgery. Thank you for sharing your story – it is very encouraging!

    1. Thanks for sharing. I know this thread is a few years old but I seem to be in the same boat you were in… my dog tore his right ccl was getting along well wi5h conservative management but now he is limping and hopping quite a bit so I am thinking surgery. How did things end up going with the surgery/recovery did your dog get back to his “normal” activities etc?

      1. We kept Tango quiet for around 7 weeks, crated unless on a short lead.
        Then started short slow walks always on a short lead.
        We put away all her chasing toys and only allowed chewing toys.

        Around 8-10mths later we allowed more vigorous playing and running.
        Her muscle in her bad leg was equal to the other leg at this stage.

        We introduced fetching games after she mastered STAY

        So she was taught to stay, and DON’T MOVE, we throw the ball, when the ball stops moving we released her to fetch it.

        She did recover fully and did not injure her other leg.
        I believe this is due to the exercise we gave her to build the muscle in it.

        Sadly we let her go 1yr go this coming Saturday
        She was nearly 15yrs.

        I have seen a big lady who owned a lab. The dog became a tripod as she did not walk the dog at all, so he never built the muscle up after the operation.
        It was very sad to see

        1. Thank you for the reply, as it is very timely. My dog just underwent the traditional surgery yesterday and is home recovering. He seems ok still a little out of it and tired also pretty painful and gives me major side eye when I look at his leg. He doesnt really want to walk so i will probablycarry him for a few days. At what point did your dog start to use the leg. I know it’s only one day post op so I am trying to temper my expectations, but I just don’t know when I should sort of start seeing him using the leg? I’m so sorry to hear your dog passed but can tell you cared very much and gave your pup a great life. I appreciate the advice and you sharing your experience very much as I know postop recovery is critical. Another thing I am wrestling with is at what point is it appropriate to introduce things like tens therapy or laser therapy. I know physical therapy exercises aren’t appropriate right now but will be looking into that a few months into his recovery. THank you again for all your help.

          1. My girl was kind of using the leg very carefully and occasionally limping straight away.
            It probably depends on your dogs breed and former fitness level as well.

            I didn’t use any other methods apart from the physio exercises the Vet gave us for full range of movement.

            But that was a little after the op. Can’t remember when I started them.

            I wouldn’t carry him too much.
            Just like people these days, they get them moving very quick after surgery.

            Good luck, for success it’s a long recovery.

  3. Ann, I am glad your dog is coming along. You mentioned physical Therapy. Do you have a center in your area or are you doing exercises thru your vet office? I know not all areas of the country have PT centers, for dogs.

  4. Thanks Lucy. He is doing well. My vet showed me certain exercises and I have a friend who is a massage therapist who is helping with TTouch. It’s neat and he really likes it.

  5. Just a update on Tango’s progress, she was doing so well. Swimming nearly every day, no sign of lameness. walking about 3kms 3 or4 times a week. i have just returned from a few days away and to my horror, she is extremely lame in the same leg. just happened the day before we got home, my son was at work and we have no idea how she did this. i am completely devastated, we have done everything by the book. (also she has been on joint powder for 2 years.)
    it has been 4 days and she is still extremely lame, i can’t afford another operation, but i hate to see her on three legs 🙁
    i have heard that the material used will break with time and the leg has scar tissue which should hold the joint firmly. i’m worried the material has broken and the leg hasn’t healed enough as yet. i don’t know what to do, except hope she can recover with conservative treatment, as my credit card has not recovered from the 1st operation.
    we all love our dogs like our children, and this is breaking my heart.

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