It’s been six weeks since our Puppy Relations (PR) Manager, Dexter, underwent an extracapsular surgical repair of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). During the operation, his very skilled surgeon repaired a completely torn ligament and removed the “shock absorber” portion of the knee, also called the meniscus. Indeed, Dexter’s ACL surgery six weeks later gives us pause to reflect and inform.
In an effort to log our injured leg journey with Fidose of Reality fans/dog parents, here’s been our journey to date:
March of 2013: ACL partial tear diagnosis from doing a jump for the ball at the park
April of 2013: Cold laser therapy sessions at the local pet rehab center
May of 2013: Custom orthotic ACL stifle brace to wear for 4-6 months with modified activity (read: no jumping)
Early August of 2013: 90 days the brace and all seemed well
August 2, 2013: A 90-day update of the ACL saga
Mid August of 2013: Limp – pop – stagger. My dog injured the same leg but worse. Surgery is required. A partial tear became a full tear.
September 3, 2013: Two-week postoperative assessment and update of ACL surgery.
Where we are today:
Dexter’s board-certified surgeon gave us the clearance to allow Dexter to play off leash, consider a physical therapy program: At home and/or a PT center for pets, and that the surgery is what he deemed a “complete success.”
Our observations and where we stand:
Dexter is fully weight-bearing and no longer shows signs of a limp. He has occasional slight stiffness on rising from a lay/seated position for a period of time, but this is to be expected.
We hope and keep our paws crossed that the other leg does not become affected, as a more than average portion of dogs who injure one ACL will eventually injure the other.
We are doing in-home range of motion and muscle building exercises provided by the therapist who helped Dexter during his treatments early in 2013.
There is some weakening of the postop leg, since the muscle was weak for so long due to injury. We are slowly but surely building up his muscle mass and keeping the strength built up in the other leg. Mobility is key: We do longer walks, off leash ball sessions, and range of motion exercises (which Dexter thinks is all a big game).
We continue with several-times-a-week dosing of Traumeel, a homeopathic supplement designed to ease any joint concerns. I first found out about this supplement from our very caring, committed veterinarian of well over 12 years, Dr. Steven Gloates, of Vetcetera.
The hair on his shaved leg still is sparse but showing signs of growing in. The front paw where Dexter was shaved to insert the IV needle still looks like “Poodle Paw,” but we look forward to that hair growing in as well.
Our pet health insurance covered at least 90 percent of the surgery, so for those who are interested, pet health insurance is a viable and successful option if the right plan and company is selected. Do your homework.
Overall, from March to October, we’ve had quite the journey but once again, dogs teach me they are stronger, braver, and more tenacious than humans much of the time. While I was a barrel of nerves and a mess as to our little guy’s leg issues, he was and remains a valiant trooper. Dogs truly are a representation of all I strive to be on a daily basis: Live in the moment, face it as it comes, and when in doubt, wag.
For anyone considering with a dog whose ACL (also called CCL) is injured, do what you need to do based on:
- Your dog’s age
- Your dog’s overall health
- Severity of your dog’s injury
- If you decide on surgery, talk to the surgeon before any decisions are made. Be armed with questions as they pertain to your dog. Be sure the surgeon is board certified: This means extra training in that specialty has been achieved.
There is no one right answer that applies to every dog. If you want to try a more conservative approach first, by all means do so.
We will update if there are any changes, but in a nutshell our journey has been a roller coaster of a ride but a successful one overall. I feel comfortable in all the decisions made and the outcome achieved. Here’s a short video of Dexter playing the day this was written, October 7, 2013. A dog in all his successful postop glory, yes?