Guest Post: Can My Dog Resume Normal Life After ACL Surgery

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.

Jet Before CCL Surgery

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?


Comments

  1. Ryan - July 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm -

    I completely respect your decision to have the operation on your dog. However, I don’t think it’s the only choice there is. Of course no one wants their dog to be in pain, or to have a “bum” leg, and I’m definitely one of those people. Unfortunately, I couldn’t foot the surgical bill at the time of my dog’s CCL injury, so I opted for a WoundWear brace. It’s a “different strokes for different folks” kind of situation. The brace may not be suitable for every situation, but surgery definitely isn’t either. All situations are unique and they should be evaluated as such. In the end, we all want our dogs at their best. I’m glad the surgery was successful for you.

    • Amy Brannan - August 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm -

      Thank you Ryan. I definitely agree that surgery is not the best choice for everyone and it certainly is a significant expense that no pet owner expects – I’m still paying off Jet’s surgery!

      Braces can work very well as a stabilizer to hold the joint in place and allow scar tissue to form around the injury and become a natural stabilizer.

      • Ryan - August 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm -

        🙂 How is Jet doing?

        • Amy Brannan - August 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm -

          Thank you for asking Ryan! Jet is doing very well. We just had an evaluation from Dr. Pearce to assess our progress in the hydrotherapy program at Leesville Animal Hospital this week and so far so good! We opted to continue hydrotherapy simply because Jet loves it so much and he seems to benefit from it particularly in colder months.

          Knock on wood though Jet has two strong knees and now we’re working to keep our favorite senior Lab happy and healthy!

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