Author Topic: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?  (Read 5358 times)

spartana

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Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« on: August 24, 2017, 05:42:32 PM »
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« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 01:58:09 AM by spartana »

bogart

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2017, 07:42:38 PM »
I'm sorry about your dog's injury and that you're needing to contemplate this.  There was another thread on the topic earlier, you can find it here --
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/forgoing-surgery-for-dog/msg1441218/#msg1441218

vanderstache

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2017, 07:54:52 PM »
My dog had an ACL tear earlier this year. We did the surgery after getting 3 different bids and after waiting 2 weeks for the swelling to come down. Best bid from smaller old school vet practice in a farming area. About $1800 all in (surgery, boarding, follow up mess and check up). The other bids were $3000-3900+ from fancy-schmancy practices. So very expensive injury to repair but worth cost shopping. And totally worth it - my dog was in a lot of pain and very depressed before the surgery and now is 100% recovered 6 months later.

Dee

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2017, 08:05:39 PM »
Our big Rottweiler had this happen. With a large dog, pricey surgery was the only option. I think when I researched it, there seemed to be two different surgeries available for small dogs (one less expensive). Our dog had surgery on his left knee at age 4 or so, fully recovered and eventually started having mobility issues again. Turns out he had the same ACL issue on his right side. So he had another surgery, this time at age 5. He is still recovering from that and his mobility is improving. It can take up to 18 months for full recovery. The second surgery was harder on him -- he looked pretty down and out for about two days. But still bounced back pretty quickly. We're in Ottawa, Ontario. Prices were a lot more than previous poster paid. I'll just leave it at that for the price. Had I not been saving for FIRE, we may not even had had the option to get him the surgeries.

Fresh Bread

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2017, 10:55:22 PM »
My dog tore his ACL but was a fair bit older (14) and a couple of kilos lighter. I happened to see two vets at the practice over the few weeks I went back and forward with him. The first is an older guy who generally always recommends minimum treatment. He suggested waiting two weeks with rest and seeing if the joint scarred over and stabilised. Given his age & activity level, he didn't see that surgery was necessary. If he was young and boisterous, it would be different. He said unless the dog was putting weight on the leg he wouldn't be in pain, and when I asked humans with the same injury they agreed. He continued to eat and sleep as normal so I don't think he was in pain.  The other vet made me feel quite bad for not doing surgery, but I don't know her well enough to know if she wanted the $$ or genuinely thought surgery was the right answer.

The joint did stabilise on its own although it did take a couple of months. We modified steps and lowered his bed etc. and just did short slow walks as recommended by vet no.1 as you need to keep the joint moving a little. Fast forward two years and my dog is 16.5 and has arthritis across all his legs. He is permitted anti-inflammatory painkillers daily (Medicam) as his liver and kidneys are strong. Had we have done surgery we'd be in exactly the same boat. I think it comes down to the general activity level of the dog - if they are full energy, then consider the surgery. If they are naturally lazy or slowing down, rest could be enough.

Regarding travel - I think different sights, sounds and smells could be excellent mental stimulation that could really help during the physical rest period.

Ask your vet about supplements like glucosamine, fish oil, rosehip vital that could help with healing.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2017, 06:54:11 AM »
My dog tore her ACL.  I assume it was only a minor tear, as 2 weeks of meds and rest (it is hard to make a dog rest!) she's fine.

Occasionally she will limp if she is playing too hard with our other dog, but mostly no problem now.

Gilly

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2017, 08:36:59 AM »
My dog, 30 lbs and 9 yo, just had the surgery in March. Her injury had probably happened 6 months earlier so you can definitely delay some if that makes it easier for you. The first 3 days after the surgery was awful for the dog. But by June it was clear the surgery had made such a difference in her life and activity so it was definitely worth it. But she is still active. My thoughts are it would probably be worth it if you think your dog has at least 3 good years left. If you think otherwise, the level of awful from the surgery may not be worth it.

Roboturner

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2017, 09:18:51 AM »
I'm kind of in the camp of "if you tore your ACL would you fix it? or just hobble around for the rest of your life?" 3k may seem like a lot, but quality of life for your dog should be more important.

Fresh Bread

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2017, 02:30:47 PM »
I'm kind of in the camp of "if you tore your ACL would you fix it? or just hobble around for the rest of your life?" 3k may seem like a lot, but quality of life for your dog should be more important.

But if you were 70 and could be pain free if you just left it and had a little physio to keep some range of movement would you risk the general anaesthetic? Depends if you're otherwise fit and very active or already on the slow down.

Spartana - I meant to ask above also, how is the dog's heart? Still strong or got a murmur yet? It makes a difference as to whether you'd want to put them through the op. Mine just had a necessary dental op to remove a broken tooth and it was v stressful as his heart is old and weak.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2017, 02:45:10 PM »
I tore my own ACL, and waited 6 months for surgery to see if I could regain stability (and to PCS the hell away from Navy doctors ;). During that time, the pain and swelling did subside. I was a functional human being, I was never in a disheartening amount of pain, and I could tell the trajectory of pain and swelling was always moving in the right direction.

In the end I chose surgery because the joint didn't stabilize. It would slide out sideways, and I'd stumble or fall over. It never exactly hurt, but it wasn't a fun sensation either. Psychologically wearing, and bad for a life at sea. Happily, waiting the 6 months didn't effect the success of the surgery, and I'm totally happy with my path. Both waiting, and eventually having surgery.

The point of all this is: You don't necessarily need to feel like surgery is a now, now, now decision. You have more than 14 days to decide for, or against, surgery. And to point out that the recovery will be 12-18 months no matter which path you choose. Knees are tricksy and complicated.

Disclaimer: not a vet, of course.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2017, 02:48:44 PM »
I'm kind of in the camp of "if you tore your ACL would you fix it? or just hobble around for the rest of your life?" 3k may seem like a lot, but quality of life for your dog should be more important.

My dog is over 10 years old.  Putting her under general anesthesia is quite dangerous at this point.  Also she doesn't hobble at all, she bears full weight and runs.  Before we did medicine + rest, she wouldn't bear weight. Except at the vet; then she pretended she was fine.  $3k isn't that much though. If she needed the operation we'd get it.  Maybe not at $5k+


Also- I have a labral tear from ice skating. I didn't get the surgery to fix it. There are things I can't do anymore because of it, but unless I was a competitive athlete they aren't really things most people do in day to day life.  I can't skate anymore though.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2017, 02:50:36 PM by iowajes »

Miss Tash

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2017, 07:29:25 PM »
My mom's dog tore her ACL and the vet wanted to operate but said try keeping her quiet for a month first to see if it would stabilize.  It was hard because she was an active farm dog but Mom kenneled her and refused to throw the ball for her.  It stabilized but you have to be careful not to over-stress her now.  She will retrieve a Frisbee until she can't walk if you're stupid enough to keep throwing it.  She is getting quite old now, for an Aussie, but the ACL injury really did not impact her life (in my opinion).

Walsh1122

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2017, 07:56:48 PM »
Spartana.  As a veterinarian the following is my medical opinion/advice and what I would do if it were my own dog.

If there is a true full or partial tear of the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament), similar to our ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) the possibility of it "healing" is there, however it generally takes months of limited activity for the ligament/joint to scar down, and this isn't a true fix, just the bodies response to a joint that is not stabilized.  This generally leads to more arthritis and discomfort as the pet ages.  Surgery is the gold standard for CCL tears which are causing instability (abnormal movement - aka cranial drawer and tibial thrust) of the knee.  I think the 2 weeks of pain medication and rest is very reasonable and generally where I start, especially while we try to decrease inflammation/swelling before surgery.  However if there is not significant improvement in comfort and stability of the knee within that time I would recommend a consultation with a boarded veterinary surgeon.

 If you end up having to pursue surgery you may find general practitioners who do orthopedic procedures for cheaper than a boarded surgeon.  Some of them actually may be very good at it, however I would say that they are very far and few in between.  Boarded surgeons deal with these cases on a daily basis and surgical correction is best left in their hands.  They are worth the extra expense and knowing that the procedure was done correctly the first time.  There are a few procedures for dogs one of the most common being a TPLO (where a metal plate is used).  However the technique used is surgeon and patient dependent. 

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions/concerns.  I would be happy to help. 

Rubyvroom

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2017, 08:52:26 PM »
I don't think I saw anyone else mention this, but understand that if you elect for the surgery, the odds of the other CCL tearing are much higher. We were warned about this when our dog tore her CCL and thought, well, she's limping and seeming like she's in pain so we will risk the surgery to fix the pain she's in now and if the other joint goes, it goes. They had us do 8-12 weeks of at-home physical therapy (increasing walking distances, doing range of motion exercises, etc.), and once the time frame of "your dog should be good to go" was up, we let her do her thing without restricting her movement at all and within one week she was limping on the OTHER side. So please just note that if you elect to pony up the money for surgery on one side, be ready to pony up that money again for side #2 within 1-2 years. This differs of course with the size of your dog, energy level, etc., but it's a rather large expense to incur twice, so I just wanted to mention it.

That said, we paid for TWO knees for our bionic dog and don't regret any of the money we spent. She was 5 and was incredibly active and a life lived behind baby gates and away from other animals was going to be no life for her. She now has total range of motion in both joints (though obviously stiff at times, as arthritis is kicking in), and is able to run and play without pain. We would do it again (FYI we did TTA not TPLO). Just be prepared for quite a bit of post-op attention, as their recovery time can be greatly impacted by how much time you do or don't devote to post-op exercises to build that strength up again.

We did actually try conservative management first before opting for surgery. I tried a solid 6 weeks of containment hoping that the scar tissue would do its thing, but it did not help at all. We tried supplements, chiropractic care, holistic care, and nothing worked. Surgery was the last option in my mind, but it ultimately was what helped her return to a normal life.

Lastly, note that some supplements they suggest for conservative management are blood thinners (I'm forgetting which but it may be fish oil and/or turmeric), so make sure to halt any supplements (or just ask your vet about it) at least a week or two before surgery.

katscratch

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2017, 09:20:29 PM »
I was just going to say exactly what has been said in the previous two posts.

I'm a picky pet owner that is willing to spend for things that improve quality of life, a former veterinary worker bee and a current human medicine worker bee. Surgery might not be the *only* option but my observation over 15+ years in vet med seemed to show that it is a more successful option long-term than rest and physical therapy, especially for active dogs.

startingsmall

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Re: Torn ACL on dog -is expensive surgery only fix?
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2017, 08:34:07 PM »
Just reread your post and wanted to say thanks again. She doesn't seem to have any instability or really any pain just holds her foot up often or limps if putting full weight on it. Not sure if that sounds like a partial tear but from your description it does. That's my hope at least since she's almost 10 and surgery might be risky. She's been fairly confined last few days other than short flat buggy walks/rides which seem to help. Tomorrow will do a very modified road trip with her and see how it goes. She is pretty happy just sitting and looking out the car window.  Me not so much :-(.

Another veterinarian here.

If she's holding the foot up or limping, there is instability and/or pain.