Tag Archives: torn ACL

Pets At the Vets – Torn ACL Recovery – Part Seven

23 Sep

Pets at the Vets – Torn ACL Recovery – Part Seven

Sutures Come Out & Cleaning Day

On Tuesday, Sept. 20th, Casey’s metal sutures came out. Apparently painless, Casey didn’t seem phased. It didn’t take more than three minutes to remove the thirty-some clips. Now she was okayed to “lick” her shorn leg. The outside layer of skin had closed over nicely. Now we had to focus on her bone healing. I channeled Lassie or tried to – she was the postcard standard for calm, obedient dogs.

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 – The Cleaning Team arrives this morning… and given how the dogs love to greet them, I have to be extra vigilant to prevent Casey from undoing her progress. I supposed it was like caring for an infant to whom you could not explain what was happening to her.  Casey likes to walk with the team through each room in the house, often stealing a sponge or dropped Kleenex. I had been cleaning the exercise pen myself since the surgery, but today I decided to let the pros take a swipe at it. There were remnants of knuckle bones and shredded fabric toys in nooks even I didn’t know about. They would find them.

I brought the three Golden girls into my office at the front of the house. It is to a comfortable and familiar place to ensconse them, albeit lured with treats. It was better than having them outside, as some pet owners must do given their space (fence) vs. work day constraints. It should come as no surprise, that pet surgery puts the onus on the pets human to pick up the slack — and stack the odds for a favorable surgical outcome.

Since I had been laid off, we knew when we entered upon Casey’s TPLO that I would be with her 24/7 until I found work. Also, we suspected I would need times outs from the stress of being ever vigilant. We factored in hiring one of our neighbor’s teenagers, Nikki, and working with our dog-sitter, Karen, to provide additional “in-out” access and companionship for the Goldens.

But back to the cleaning team, Maddie was still leery of vacuums, but her sisters were not. She tolerated the intrusive always growling machine. Sometimes she snuck outside until the team closed the door after them. However today, Casey was beginning to feel a “lot” better and it showed. Her pals knew she was rearing to play and were only too eager to accommodate.

As I write this, they have each staked out a square of carpet and are lying down. Since the minimum dose sedation meds still send Casey into la-la land relatively easily, though not keeping her snoozy for the full eight hours, we stick with the minimum dosage. Since we are both aware of the dangers of hyper sedation in people for long periods of time, we certainly don’t want that to happen to Casey. However we are cognizant of the dangers she could do to her bone without understanding what she’s doing.

We feel that Casey has figured out that she is on the mend. Of course what dog couldn’t figure this out after waking up in the foreign-smelling, scary Vet’s office groggy, shaved of fur in odd places, achy, and unaware of the circumstances which put them there.

From the way Casey’s paws “ran” in place while sleeping, I believe she dreamt of a romp with her pals across a beautiful field. All too soon, they will be up. Each  craftily contemplating how to get more treats out of me. Barking works. They will also give much thought as to how to fake me out as to when they have to go “outside,” what to whine at that will prompt a response from me (which might in turn generate another treat or at least kudos for their being such good dogs). This will be still a long haul. For Casey, me, and all of us.

Will Casey return to her Blue Ribbon Agility champtionship finishes? To the Rally-O she loves? Her evening walks? Will she run a sunny open field without limping? Will she be part of the seventy per cent of Retrievers who successfully make it through the post-operative process? Bone to bone healed to perfection? I will keep you informed.



Pets At the Vets – Torn ACL – Part Four

18 Sep

Facts on a hand-out may state that it takes dogs approximately two months for their bone and surrounding soft tissue to heal. Highlighted is the case for “mandatory” confinement of our post-surgery friends.
Another of those inexplicable conditions of full recovery which we can not adequately share with our dogs is reduced playtime, movement, walking through the house, even on carpets, especially hard wood or tile floors. Even going to the bathroom must be controlled. With the cone on or off (your call), your best friend must be led outside at the appropriate times to relieve themselves. Care must be taken not to allow them to jump on a planter or change elevations suddenly. Keeping them on a “short leash” has new meaning to you and your best bud.
The bottom line is that while you may be a dog whisperer, your average “dog’s best friend” must put in a day full of “leavings” and “doings.” You have to get the kids off to school, shop at the grocery, stop at the dry cleaners, pop in to the bank, tire store, or pizzaria. So given the unique circumstances of your household, you will have to figure out the details surrounding your dog’s recovery. Time is critical. The healing process moves on without our explicit intervention.
Since the “plateau leveling” procedure causes any pain your dog experienced to go away, your best friend is again forced into a situation we have created.

Controlled activity is still a good two months away.

Pets At The Vets – ACL (Part Two)

18 Sep

The Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is the name of surgery performed on dogs to compensate for the fact that they have completely torn their ACL. As with humans, the ACL is a ligament. It does not grow back to full strength with rest. In fact, it does not return. Once torn, it must be repaired or it will heal as it would in the wild. The dog would have a limp or worse for the rest of its possibly shortened life span.
The literature from the vet stated that the rupture “of the cranial (anterior) cruciate ligament” if not repaired immediately resulted in “derangement changes” such as osteoarthritis in the stifle (aka “knee”) joint.
As if that were not bad enough, additional cartilage and related areas suffer (i.e. the meniscus), osteophyte growth known as bone spurs, and the joins of the other legs wearing out or blowing out prematurely due to excessive compensatory wear.
As Dr. Adam Galler states, “The TPLO has proven effective in returning” torn ACLs in dogs “to full function.” Also, he mentioned a comparative study recently completed in which numerous Labrador Retrievers had been followed post-TPLO, too. A full seventy percent of Labrador’s recovered.
“Our dogs are Golden’s,” I noted lamely myself, still stunned myself by the need for Casey’s sudden surgical requirement. Obviously, the size, bone structure, and genetics of the Labrador’s and Golden’s are similar. I started to think about the remaining thirty per cent. Why didn’t they make full recoveries? What happened along their their path to returned wellness that made the expensive TPLO not always a rousing success.
Now, I understand. And we’re only ten days post surgery. Soon you will know, too.


Pets At the Vets – The Torn Cruciate Ligament

18 Sep

When our three and one-half year old Golden Retriever returned from her afternoon play day with her sister, Maddie, we knew something was not quite right. At the park, they had been surrounded by best dog bud Dylan, pals Ziggie, Murphy, Jada, Jada’s six month old sister, Zolie, and the usual secret dog park romp. However Casey was favoring her right rear leg ever so slightly. We inspected. No touch or pressure sensitivity to the right rear leg or paw. By morning she seemed fine. She’s okay, we signed with relief.
Next play date, same thing. Within a few moments after returning home post park roughhousing with the buds, Casey ever so slightly favored her right hear paw. Again. So again we got down on the floor with her to inspect, palpate, move the joints, feel for burrs or stones between the pads of her paws. Nothing. By morning she exhibited no limp.
This went on for several weeks. Then without our seeing or even hearing any demonstrable event that signaled a totally torn cruciate ligament, she did not stop favoring the leg by morning… or afternoon… or evening.  In fact, she was not putting much weight on her right rear leg at all. Something was terribly wrong.
Our dog body-work guru came to work on our oldest boy, Felix, when she took one look at Casey’s limp and urged us to take her to the local veterinary surgical center for an evaluation. Wisely, she did not even want to touch Casey’s paw (as if Casey would have let her by then). Because our dog wellness guru, Bettina Lally, was so attuned to dogs, she recognized immediately and knew what had to be done.
Bottom line: Casey had torn her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) just as I had torn mine seven years earlier. What a small world, I thought. However I soon learned that a torn dog ACL is not as easy to repair. Unlike humans, I  read online, dog replacement ACLs did not take.
We wanted to make sure we found the best and most experienced orthopedic sugeon to give our gal the best chance for a full recovery to her previous self. After all, she had just completed her very first Blue Ribbon Agility Run and loved competing.  Since she loved the weave poles, a frames, teeter-totter, and cone runs, we hoped to be able to allow her once again to do what she so loved.
Thus we found the Southern California ACL “Go To” guy, Dr. Adam Gassel, DVM, of the Irvine Regional Animal Emergency Hospital, in Irvine, California. After x-rays, his diagnosis was serious.
Fully torn, it would require immediate surgery to repair if she were to have any hope of recovering to her former self.
Since we had anticipated this, we had refrained from allowing her food or liquids after midnight. Good thing.
While we left our girl in good hands, we were fully cognizant of all the many things that could go wrong during a general anesthesia procedure. She was to have what they called the TPLO for treatment of a ruptured cruciate ligament.#