Pets At the Vets – Torn ACL – Part Three

18 Sep

While we waited for Casey’s surgery to be completed and for us to receive that critical “All’s well” phone call from the Vet’s offices, we poured through the TPLO and related literature. It was clear that the amount of use a dog puts on his or her knees was far in excess of what we applied to our own.

The Southern California Surgical Group stated that “Just as a car resting on a flat surface has no tendency to roll, in humans, the hip, knee, and ankle joints are parallel to each other.”  In dogs, the anatomic structure is quite different. Our four-legged friends stand on their toes. Their ankles are actually in the air, not firmly placed on the ground. Their knees are, unlike humans, “bent forward.”

Thus the TPLO is required because the upper canine tibia slopes up. Any weight at all will move the previously aligned bone to slide forward. The upper tibia is sanded and reinforced with a steel plate and six screws to hold the bone in place to allow for healing. The bone-to-bone contact is exaggerated for best healing possibilities to take place. The now leveled tibia top totally eliminates the animal’s previous requirement for that pesky ACL. And herein lies the rub, so to speak.

Your Vet can only do so much. It is post surgery when your dog returns home that it is up to you, not your dog, to control the environment for maximal healing and wellness to take place.

For the first two weeks, Casey wore a “cone” over her head. She was not pleased. This once playfully obedient dog now had rules Our rules. Human rules. And we could not necessarily explain what had happened to her or why we had changed the rules. Without anthropomorphizing, it’s safe to say she knew something had happened. Her leg had these foreign metal sutures in them. She didn’t feel like her old self. And now she was wearing this “bonnet.” She was restricted to a relatively small area by a wall of exercise pen stretched over her bed, a water bowl, and assemblage of her toys, rugs, and a bone. That was known as “bed rest.” Total.
Whereas people could understand the concept of “no weight bearing” or “toe touching.” our best friends could not. So, their full and total recovery was now dependent on our committment (and ability) to restrict their movement so as to allow the bone to heal.

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