Guest post written by Amy Brannan. The opinions reflected in this post are not those of Leesville Animal Hospital, nor do they reflect them in any way.
Since writing a guest article for Leesville Animal Hospital about my senior dog’s recovery from an extracapsular repair of his CCL tear, a few people have asked whether it is possible for their dog to resume normal life after CCL surgery. Today I wanted to address that question as best I can from my personal experience.
This is Jet, the day before his CCL tear repair surgery. He looks pretty sorry for himself and there is no doubt that his knee was paining him. At this point I knew that for us, there was no other solution than surgery. I didn’t question whether my dog would resume a normal life after surgery simply because I knew he wouldn’t have one without it.
I had watched my parent’s dog, a thirteen year old pitt bull mix, Millie, do without surgery to repair her CCL, and while she recovered quite well, she always had a “bum leg.” Millie was older than Jet when she tore her CCL and there was question as to whether she would survive the surgery. The general consensus was that she would not, and so she lived out her days with a hobble and a painful pant each night before bed as her days medication would begin to wear thin.
Jet was ten when he tore his CCL and ever being the optimist I still imagined he has another good ten years left in him. For me, I couldn’t imagine ten years of hobbling around on a bum leg, ten years of constant pain management pills. No, for me, surgery was a necessity and Jet was healthy enough to endure it.
Now that he’s had surgery do I regret my choice? Not one bit. Certainly, Jet will never be the dog he was before his tear, he’s a little creakier in that knee joint, a little slower to rise and still has trouble getting up the stairs almost a year later…but I will never regret my choice.
As the owner of a dog who has experienced an CCL tear, it is important to understand the full picture. The tear is not something that can be undone and much like a person who experiences an athletic injury, the scar from that injury will always remain. But questioning whether or not your dog will resume a normal life after CCL surgery is like asking whether a person will resume a normal life after knee surgery. There will be bumps along the road and certainly a scar left behind, but can you imagine life without that surgery?