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Dog ACL Surgery Six Weeks Later


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.

Salt Lake City temple

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?

A dog lover of the highest order is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant, when she appeared with her Cocker Spaniel on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. Carol created and owns the trademark, My Heart Beats Dog® and lives that mantra. A 30-year veteran of the dog world, she is President of the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the 2020 DWAA winner for Best Dog Blog.


  1. Ellen says

    what a rock star he is! great to see him “back in the saddle” after just 6 weeks! awesome recovery time. your article reassures me if i ever need to have this type of surgery done on any of my dogs!

    • Carol Bryant says

      Good to hear, Ellen! You are welcome and I hope your dogs never need it either. Check out Sue’s book for a good way to keep them fit and healthy 😉

  2. SlimDoggy says

    I’m so glad that Dexter is doing so well – that great to hear. Our dog Sally had TWO ACL injuries and two surgeries. I know how hard it can be to keep an active dog quiet – so kudos to you for his good recovery. We are planning a section in PetsMove for our Rehab Warriors and would love to add Dexter -would you be interested?

    • Carol Bryant says

      Hey hey SlimDoggy (I always think that would be the coolest rapper name, ever on a side note). Yes ma’am would be interested – connect with me on that – ty!

  3. Jen says

    Thanks for the great update Carol.
    I’m really finding it nice to compare.

    It’s wonderful that Dexter is doing so well. Sherman has the limp when he gets up from a nap too and his gait isn’t as strong as it once was but when we are out for short walks he is no longer limping which is so great to see. Building up the muscle mass seems to be key for us also right now and we are seeing a difference with the hydrotherapy. The vet took a measurement of Sherman’s muscle mass in his back legs before we started and will take another reading after 10 sessions, so it will be interesting to see the results.

    Again, thanks for the detailed update and we’re sending Dexter smooches!

    • Carol Bryant says

      I think of you and Sherman often, Jen. Dexter’s hobble/limp is gone, and I could just about cry tears of joy (and have) seeing him run. He looks so happy and I am sure he is. Keep mew posted on Sherman’s muscle mass rebuild. Are you foregoing surgery for the time being?

      Have a great week – love the sunflower pictures!

      • Jen says

        Yes. Putting of surgery for now. We would like to get his back legs stronger since this has been going on for so long with him and he has lost so much muscle mass. We’ll see how it goes from there. Right now the vet is very optimistic about how he is doing without the surgery.

        Thanks for the compliment on the sunflower picture:) so sad to see them go, especially on Sherman’s behind:)

        • Carol Bryant says

          BOL on Sherman’s behind. Keep the pupdates coming. If I saw Sherman or Leroy walking down the street, I’d have to stop and smooch and hug them both!

  4. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says

    My Callie had TPLO surgery done back in February and is doing well for a girl her age (9). Her surgery was also a great success! But she does have some hip dysplasia so I’m careful not to overdo her exercise. I keep it to 15 minutes or session, 2 sessions per day. Depending on the weather, there are days when we skip it altogether or keep it light and easy. Glad Dexter is healing so nicely — and quickly!!

    • Carol Bryant says

      Smart idea, to pace it and keep it light but steady. Continued success of healing and glad to hear she is doing well. Nine is the new 5! 😉

    • Carol Bryant says

      We’ve been so very excited with the results and nice to have Dex running around and happily chasing his ball (albeit it, the high jump days are over) once more.

  5. emma says

    That is pawsome that he is doing so well. My mom would be so afraid to let him do anything in case he would reinjure himself, but I guess in time you are just used to it all. Hope he continues to improve and nothing else goes wrong!

  6. Julee says

    I just ran across your blog today. My dog Bella had extracapsular repair 8 wks ago and has had an excellent recovery (it was way harder on me I think). We have been following Dr. James St. Claire’s rehab protocol and she is losing weight and gaining strength faster than I expected. I am letting her off leash in the house if supervised but not outside. She wants to run so badly (high energy 4 yo Bichon). Is your dog running and doing well after just 6 wks? Every where it read says no running until at least 12 weeks. At her 6 wk check they said she was doing great and healing “perfectly”. Advised increasing her activity by 25% each week. But I didn’t ask if she can run, she had her surgery at a university hospital 100 miles away so don’t really want to take her back to get answer.

    • Carol Bryant says

      I initially read no running for months, too. We took it step by step. Of course, Dexter’s muscle mass is decreased in the weaker leg. I am sure the great vet you are seeing has the means to measure the strength in each leg and has. We are not letting Dex go from zero to full boar running but pretty free, all things considered. I had that fear, too – having gone through all that with him and then having the leg get re-injured. But so far, so good, and we are just not letting him jump. I have to say, the hardest part is holding them back, isn’t it?

      What you can do and I highly recommend is checking with a rehab center if you have one in your area. And you can also check out this fab book I read from Sue Davis:

      I’d take it easy and let her do step by step what the university says – since every dog is different. Maybe they saw things with your dog when they operated and made that recommendation based on that.

      Let me know how Bella does, as I am would like to hear how she is doing. Sounds like she has a good mom taking great care of her!

    • Carol Bryant says

      Awww, thanks Caren. My widdle man means the world to me. I about cried (in fact, I did to be honest) when he was given the green light to run.

  7. Olivia Mak says

    I have a Maltese named Dexter! My family thought I was nuts for naming a dog that, but I find it to fit his quirky personality perfectly. Unfortunately, I have been through a similar situation but did not have as many resources available to me. After going through that lesson , I immediately purchased pet health insurance. Peace of mind is important when it comes to my pets.

  8. Carole says

    My mums rescue springer spaniel has just had her ccl fixed with implant on Friday last night Monday after the op, she yelped on standing, back to the vets, she’s snapped the other ccl in other leg! Vet says another op asap, so weight is even on both sides, a long long recovery but not sure how old she is at least 9 years old but there is high risk off any injured led rupturing again?? Not sure what to do?? Suggestions please? Is this fair to put this little love through more pain & greave with not a certain outcome😂

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