Guest Post: What I Wish I Knew About My Dogs ACL Surgery Beforehand

This is a guest post written by a client of Leesville Animal Hospital, the opinions reflected in this post are not those of Leesville Animal Hospital, nor do they reflect them in any way.

A Senior Dog CCL Tear

My black Labrador, Jet, was 10 years old when he tore his CCL. We opted for traditional / extra-capsular repair surgery, the option which was best recommended in our circumstances. Our vet, vet techs and surgeon were all very helpful during our experience, but there are some things that I wish other pet owners had shared with me before we started our journey.

Labrador Post CCL Surgery

– Avoid Google. You are likely not trained as a veterinarian and anything you find online should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s okay to ask your veterinarian questions, research options and even get second opinions, but don’t trust a stranger on the internet to give you medical advice about a dog they have no history with.

– Trust your vet. It’s okay to be hesitant about surgeries, but don’t confuse uncertainty or hesitation with mistrust in your vet.

– Accept preoperative care if it is offered to you. Living on a budget is difficult during the best times but with CCL surgery pending for your dog, it can be tempting to cut financial corners. When we were offered hydro-therapy to help to strengthen Jet’s back end prior to surgery I admit that my first thought was that it would be wasted money. I understood the concept of building muscle in his back end but just how much good would three weeks of therapy do before his surgery? The answer to that question is A LOT. If you are like me, you will have family members and friends who will tell you that it’s a ploy to get you to spend more money at the vet’s office. I won’t lie to you, the process DOES cost money, but I also firmly believe that it played a role in Jet’s successful recovery.

– On the same note, take part in postoperative therapy as well if it is offered to you. Jet continues to use the hydrotherapy machine at the Leesville Animal Hospital in Raleigh, NC even 8 months following his surgery. Certainly, you don’t have to continue therapy for as long as Jet has, but if you can afford even a few weeks, DO IT. Jet has excelled through the use of hydrotherapy. Taking part in walking exercises was difficult for Jet after his surgery, but the buoyancy of the underwater treadmill took away most of that difficulty and allowed him to focus on rebuilding strength.

– Don’t be surprised if your dog acts “zoned out” with a pain patch. The day before his surgery, Jet had a Fentanyl pain control patch put on his foreleg. Despite the horror stories that various internet sources offered on the patch, we took our vet’s advice and went with it (I have NO regrets in using the patch.) We had no horror stories and the only “side effect” seen was a little wooziness as the night wore on which is completely normal.

– Invest in a GOOD harness or sling. Depending on the age and weight of your dog you may find that one harness or sling will work best for your dog as they recover from surgery. As the owner of a senior dog who also weighs close to 80lbs, I invested in a “Help ‘Em Up Harness.” Believe me when I tell you that I would spend $1000 dollars on that harness for the amount of trouble it has saved both Jet and me.

– Expect bruising. This was the most shocking part of post-CCL surgery for me that I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t know exactly what I did expect once Jet’s cast came off, but it certainly wasn’t the amount of bruising that you can see in this picture:

Bruising after CCL Surgery

This is NORMAL. I can tell you this because I must have asked every vet and every vet tech in the area. Perhaps part of my shock was that I have never had major surgery myself. This bruising is from three days following his surgery, it vanished rather quickly in the days following.

– Don’t expect your dog to cry with pain. Jet is a tough cookie, he doesn’t cry or whimper when he is in pain. Being his “mom” for what is now 11 years, however, has taught me how to read him. Jet may not whimper or cry but he does tuck his tail right under his body, pant and continually shift around when he is in pain. I began to see these behaviors when it was almost time for another round of pain medication during the first couple of nights at home.

– Follow your surgeon’s post-surgical care instructions TO THE TEE. Having a dog blow out their second CCL after having surgery on the first is not uncommon but the likelihood of it happening can be significantly reduced by following the surgeon’s post-surgical instructions word for word. Your vet will tell you this and your surgeon will tell you this. As the owner of a senior dog who has had CCL surgery and survived 8 months *knock on wood* without blowing out his second CCL, I am telling you: FOLLOW THOSE INSTRUCTIONS STEP BY STEP.

– When you think your dog is ready to resume a “normal life” and recovered from their surgery…they aren’t. A few weeks following his surgery Jet started to act more like his old self. He wanted to take stairs and even pick up a little jog when walking. It took everything in me (as well as the well-secured handles on his harness) to stop him. Among your dog’s discharge instructions from his or her surgeon you should have a guideline for activity, your dog will likely begin to show signs of being ready before these guidelines. Do not let them! This is perhaps the most important thing I can share with you as a dog owner. Too much exercise too soon following CCL repair surgery can result in damage, infection and contribute to damage to the CCL in the other leg. Afraid that your dog is getting bored? Try picking up a puzzle toy to keep you both entertained instead and burn that “energy” in a hydrotherapy tank where their activity can be monitored and controlled.

I hope that you were able to take something away from my experience with Jet’s therapy and surgery. Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below and I will answer them as soon as I am able.


  1. Kathleen

    Wow – I am so glad that I found this site. My dog is getting ready to have the same surgery and I’ve been googling everything. I’m stopping her. Such great information and no I feel completely informed. Thank you so much for posting this!!!

    • Rachel

      My dog, Murphy is about to be 2 years old. He is a pit bull boxer mix. He has completely tore his left CCL and we are waiting to hear back if he needs his right hip replaced before we can repair his left leg. I’m a wreck. I keep telling myself it will be okay, but it seems really bad.

      • Heather

        wow, that is terrible Rachel, I hope that everything has worked out. Our dog Boston tore his left ACL when he was 4 and his other ACL and meniscus when he was 6. We did everything right with the first one and I felt so terrible to have to put him through it again for the second time, but dogs are truly the most resilient creatures on earth. I stressed and cried and fretted for months surrounding both surgeries, but he is a happy dog with a great life. Keep your head up and focus on the recovery ๐Ÿ™‚

        • deb

          my gracie a 4 yr stafford is x 8 weeks post acl surgery..was unable to tolerate crating so has been nursed in my tolerates x 12 mins walking only x 2 a day anything more and goes lame/limps and my anxiety goes thru roof…cant find much on internet that talks about that part of recovery and wether the limping is to be expected..any ideas?

      • Lauren

        I hear you, Rachel! My dog’s partially (and possibly fully now, on his left leg) torn his ACLs… He’ll be two in September – an American Bull Dog mix. We are trying to figure out whether to opt for the surgeries ($$$: we put off getting pet insurance, never thinking he’d need it so young) or try 8-week rest . I wonder how it turned out for you and Murphy. Well, I hope.

  2. Amy

    I’m so glad you found some reassurance in my post, Kathleen. I wish you and your pup good luck on upcoming surgery!

  3. allison

    Thanks for posting this. Very helpful. We are on the fence about whether to even put our dog through this surgery. What made you decide it was necessary? Our (10 yr old lab) is limping somewhat but her lifestyle isn’t really compromised much by the injury. She still goes for her walks and doesn’t seem to be in much pain.

    Also, how long did your dog have to stay in the hospital after the surgery? Were you able to take him home the same day?

    • Amy

      Hi Allison!

      There were a few factors that went in to our decision for Jet.

      He is a healthy dog and that was the most important thing to us. His pre-surgery blood work came back clean so we were cleared for surgery.

      Secondly, while it did put us in to debt we were in a position where we could afford the surgery using a credit card and had a pet health insurance policy that reimbursed us a portion of the cost. (We have but have heard good things about also).

      Additionally, my parents had a much older dog who did not go through surgery and while it didn’t limit her completely it did affect a number of aspects of her life IE: she couldn’t jump on the sofa any more and she couldn’t walk long walks anymore. That said, Jet is older too and long walks are not on our agenda.

      Lastly, Jet has hip dysplasia on the opposite side to his ACL tear which makes him a little unstable as is, so the surgery for us was a chance to help his mobility that was now twice impaired.

      Jet is our only “child” and the factors above made it possible for us to decide that even a small benefit from surgery would be a good one for us.

      Jet stayed in the animal hospital overnight after his surgery. We went in the day before for a Fentanyl patch (pain control), I brought him home and took him in at 7am the next morning for his surgery. He spent the night at the clinic and I picked him up the following day with a sling. I made sure to have someone else drive so I could sit with him and make sure he did not move around too much in the car. Jet was still receiving pain medication from the pain control patch for a day following so his pain was well controlled. We had to check back in with the vet the following day simply because Jet’s bandage was a little too tight so we had it cut off and redressed.

      After coming home, Jet was unable to take stairs so he slept downstairs and I slept downstairs with him to monitor him for pain as well as to help with his separation anxiety. All in all we both slept downstairs for two weeks until we completed a follow up visit with the vet. I am fortunate enough to work at home so I could spend that two weeks with Jet, but if you don’t have the luxury crating will work well since for the most part your dog will be medicated and sleep.

      I do recommend a boiled chicken and rice diet for the first few days if you have a dog like Jet that has a sensitive tummy. Your dog should be on antibiotics as well as pain killers which can both do a number on their tummy but we added the chicken and rice diet combined with an appropriate dose of Pepto and some organic plain yogurt to help replenish the good bacteria.

      It sounds very overwhelming and I won’t lie, the first night was tough but it gets a lot easier and your dog will let you know if things aren’t going as they should.

      Surgery is a big decision but for us it was the right choice. These days Jet is walking up the stairs and acting younger than ever ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Susie

        Thank so much for your comments, Amy. My 6 year old lab has surgey in 4 days and I’m so worried. You answered several questions I had and also made some of my worries to fade. I appreciate it you posting about this.

        • Amy

          I hope the surgery went well Susie and that you are enduring the first few days of recovery, they can be grueling but they are worth it!

  4. Christine

    My dog had acl surgery on October 31, and she still refuses to put any weight on that leg. She has become so use to walking on three… The leg has gotten so small. Any suggestions on how to get her walking on all fours again??

    • admin

      Christine, if you are local to us bring your dog in and have Dr. Pearce take a look at her to see if we can get her walking on all fours again. If you are not local to us, we recommend that you give your vet a visit to address the issue.

  5. allison

    Thanks for your reply, Amy! More helpful information! I hate the thought of putting her through the surgery but I also hate seeing her limping and so slowed down. We’re going to take some time to think about it and decide after Christmas.

  6. LEO


    • Amy

      Leo, try contacting the NC State veterinary school for suggestions. Additionally look in to Care Credit as a credit based option! Good luck!

  7. Molly

    My cat just had the Tightrope surgery to replace three broken tendons in her knee. I have a few questions to anyone who has gone through the experience with a cat or a dog:

    -did your pet have trouble bending his knee for awhile?
    -did your pet want to sleep/lay down all the time his first week home?
    -when did you start rehabilitation/PT?

    Thanks in advance. I am a worried mama.

    • Amy

      Yes, Jet had trouble bending his knee as a result of the healing that was taking place and the pain/stiffness from surgery. Think of having surgery inside your knee and how well you would be able to move it following, it’s certainly a progressive thing ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’re concerned at any point though I definitely recommend talking to your vet!

      The first week home Jet slept a lot as a result of the pain killers he was on. He was also confined to prevent movement that could put his surgery site at risk. In total I want to say he was limited to crate care and minimal bathroom walks for around 4 weeks but I can’t quite recall!

      We completed our 2 week follow up post-surgery and Jet was cleared for hydrotherapy shortly after that. I don’t recall if we went straight in to hydrotherapy the week after or two weeks after but it was based on our individual progress and our vet’s recommendation.

      Try not to worry too much but NEVER be afraid to ask your vet questions!

      • Ellen

        my vet never told us none of this before our dog surgerie. we have 2 dogs, and our stafshire terrier had only partial tear she has hip displaishia in the same leg.when we picked her up from the vet after her surgerie she then told us some,but not everything, the first day she mainly layed around, but the second day she wanted to follow and play with our other dog ,she jumped up on the bed after the other dog, I scolded her when I realized, how can I keep her quiet (without staying with her 24/7 suggestions.

  8. Joanne

    Our cocker spaniel just had surgery yesterday for a torn ACL/meniscus tear. This morning we received a call saying she tore her other one on the night. She is 10 and in great health. Has anyone heard of this happening before?

    • Febe

      Wow that’s crazy!!! I have a cockapoo 10 years old she has to have surgery . I’m scared i’m so bummed. what was the outcome.

  9. Lisa

    Great information! My shepherd had ACL surgery in June 2013 and now as of today he is at the vet for surgery on his other leg. ๐Ÿ™ I thought he was completely back to himself but during a game of ball he started limping. My vet said some dogs are more prone to this problem and over compensate using the good leg but of course I blame myself for letting him overdo it… take your time on the recovery process is my advice to anyone going through this! It’s a costly and painful lesson in judgment on my part. I wish hydrotherapy had of been suggested to me, I think I may look into this to see if its offered in my area, so thanks for that advice.

  10. Carol Buck

    I sure wish I’d happened upon you site before our 6 yr old lab Raven underwent TPLO surgery 12 days ago. I was a wreck before her surgery, and had to stop reading other blogs because it was all bad news. Your advise is spot on, and we are following the surgeons post-op instructions closely.

    The surgeon we chose was recommended by our good friends, who’s rottie had the same surgery. I was warned that the first 10 days will be harder on me than Raven. Boy, is that for sure. Our girl is quite active and strong, and very vocal. The fentanyl patch made her manic and restless. The added Tramadol kept her well sedated, and yet still vocal. I was worried she was in pain and was told the Fentanyl makes dogs manic. I took off work for several days to be with her. I slept on the sofa with her on the floor for the first night and neither of us slept well. While we had borrowed an XXL metal crate, she didn’t do well so we let her sleep in our other Labs bed on the floor in our bedroom, and we shut the bedroom door. The Fentanyl patch wears off in 3-4 days, and after that, she slept much better with just he Tramadol. She has not touched her staples and only wears an inflatable protective collar when we are at work. She stays inside the house with our other lab, who is a very low key and mellow fellow. A good role model for Raven.

    Don’t panic if your dog doesn’t eat or poop for several days. She would drink water and go outside to pee, but all Raven wanted to eat was beef jerky and peanut butter for nearly 4 days. I made her chicken and rice, got special ‘easy on the tummy’ food – wouldn’t touch any of it. We had to force meds during this time, which was harder on me than her. She hobbled on her own power and could urinate quite well on her own. The first few times she had to go out to potty I did stand behind her and support her good leg. She had a thick cast-like wrapped bandage from her upper thigh, down around her foot.

    At 12 days she is starting to put weight on her leg, but we are very careful to keep her from trotting. Raven is a field lab, and as such, has 2 speeds – high and off. We know she is feeling better when she starts to trot down the hallway, or outside to potty, but we keep a very keen eye on her and limit her activity.

    She gets her staples out on Tues, and has a followup with the surgeon. I’m happy to see you are a fan of hydrotherapy. We have a pet rehab facility in our area (No. California), and have utilized them win the past, and will again when the surgeon gives us the go ahead.

    The advise to follow the vet/surgeons recommendations to the T is well heeded. I figure Raven would know her own limitations and self regulate her activity. I have to remember she is an animal and does not reason like we do. I look forward to her continued recuperation and ability to run the fields as she did before she got hurt.

    • Carol Buck

      Update: we are 9 weeks today post-op TPLO. Raven had her last xray and her fracture is 100% healed. 3 weeks ago she had a gait test and she was placing 70% of her weight on the surgery knee, 105% on her good hing leg. Much better than pre-op gait test: 52%/138%. She received a clean bill of health from surgeon and now we are strengthening her thigh before we allow her to run. She has been walking with me 15-20 minutes, several times a day. We will be increasing her walk time. She is jumping on furntiture and the bed, but also limit her jumping at this point. Raven will have hydrotherapy a few times to help engage her thigh muscles.

      Following the surgeons post op directions ensured that our girl recovered fully.

      • Lynne

        Our dog is putting most of her weight on her back left leg. We went for the surgical consult and scheduled the tplo and i cancelled. We are trying water treadmill and laser therapy. I want to leg to get stronger before the surgery. It is november and i am worried about the snow and ice. We get snow any from end of nov to dec. Should i go ahead with surgery or wait? She is a great dane at 140 pounds. I am so worried for my baby and i do work at home also with her 247. Advise please
        Confused with internet stuff too. Also been through ccl with our Rottweiler.

    • Kathy

      Glad to read about the eating and pooing–my 50 lb. Border Collie/Aussie/Shepherd mix is in about the same boat. . .chicken jerky and Charlie Bears are her food of choice. Three days after surgery, she’s still shaky, but seems a bit more with it each day.

  11. Bianca

    Our english bulldog Eggo had ACL surgery almost two weeks today. For the most part, he’s confined and well, he’s a bulldog so his energy levels are cat-like. This morning he was excited and sprinted about 10 steps to say hello and now he’s extremely lame on the leg where he had surgery. The vet said to wait a few days and if it doesn’t get better to go see him. Your advice of being extremely strict with following rules couldn’t be any more right. I’m praying he didn’t blow his surgery.

  12. Bianca

    I should also note, that we have tried not to excite him, but sometimes he gets energy out of nowhere and he zooms. Its never far or fast, but with a heavy set bulldog body, to cause damage he doesn’t need to be fast or go far.

  13. Celeste

    We live in South Africa, and have a Jack Russel male 11 years old, he suffered from not being able to walk on his left leg. He has been in and out of vets, and eventually they told us that his upper bone is to long, and they have to shorten it, and then put a steel plate in. None of this made sense because he has never suffered prior to that. After numerous vet opinions, we decided to go ahead with the operation. Now 4 months down the line he is still limping. It brakes my heart to think that he might be suffering, but we dont know what to do. How would a life be for a little short legged jack russel if we have to amputate his leg, because there is no way im putting him down, please advise if you need more info in what the vets here diagnosed him with.

    Much appreciated
    Sent from my iPhone

  14. Lisa Scoggins

    My Lady just had surgery March 11, 2014 at Leesville Animal Hosp. So far she is doing great, but having to sleep in front of her kennel she has to be touching you. She got bandages off Friday. We are doing every thing just like we were told. She weighs 100 lb., so when we take her to use the bath room 2 of us help to make it a little easier.

  15. Christy Menosky

    Thank you for the information, my shepherd has a partial tear in her leg, when it first happened almost a year ago I decided to just do the resting and see how it went. A year later it is it has not gotten any better and within the last few days wont even put her leg down, i feel so horrable and hate their is not much I can do about it, because of financial reasoning. I will find a way to pay for the surgery though and will be coming back to your site for the information again.

  16. Lori

    My Sadie just had ACL surgery 3/28/14. She is a 92# mix of Black Lab and ??. I find it very difficult to do her rehab as she is very aggressive and attempts to bite me (thank goodness I leave the cone on). Any suggestions? I’m making a call to the vet when they open to have them show me how to do the exercises but I’m at a loss.

    • Steph

      I’m experiencing the same aggressiveness from my American Bulldog. She has two blown acl’s! First (worst) one done only 3 days ago. I’m worried though because I’m not able to ice much and it is quite swollen still.

  17. courtney

    My 10month old shepherd lab mix has a partial acl tear. I just found out a week ago so for now were keeping her rested and will do another xray in two weeks. I have been so stressed out from this. But reading this helps me feel a bit better

    • courtney

      Was anyone able to still get pet insurance even after the diagnosis? and how much does that cover

  18. Glynis

    Thanks for a great post! My Tiki goes in for her surgery this Tuesday. As a dog walker, I have worked with a lot of dogs that have recovered very well from ACL surgery! But this is my baby, and I’m having a very hard time dealing with the emotions of it. Thank you for a very simple and well written article. Tiki has never been crated or penned, and I’m worried she will jump up on her favorite chair in the front window, which serves as her “TV” entertainment during the day. I will move the chair to prevent the leaping. Hope Jet is still doing well!

  19. Stacy

    My 11 year old spaniel mix started limping and the vet suspects it’s his CCL. They want to take x-rays that require sedation. I’m afraid just to have the sedation. I’m waiting for the blood test results. Any words of wisdom?

  20. Ryan

    This is a really great resource, with valuable tips. I found myself in this predicament with my elderly dog too. However, surgery wasn’t the best option for us (my dog has had issues with anesthesia in the past) we went with a bracing option from WoundWear. Thankfully, it worked out wonderfully and I do recommend researching this option for those who feel their dogs aren’t god surgery candidates. And I completely agree with your tip about following the post-op care exactly as they are directed. I know that helped my dog and I. He did very well when we stuck. to. the. schedule. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s really awesome about the hydrotherapy. I’ve been looking into that just as a form of exercise for my dog, in addition to further strengthening his muscles. Still need to find a good place ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Scott

    Our eight year-old Maltese “Schumi” had ACL surgery on his right stifle Monday. He was discharged Monday night, I took Tuesday off and noticed he had not urinated by 9am that morning. I took him back to the vet where he was catheterized.

    Today, more than 24-hours after being catheterized, he hasn’t urinated. Our Vet told me that he was okay and he’ll go when he needs to go. That’s great but doesn’t stop me from worrying. ๐Ÿ™‚ He has a pain patch as well on his left rear leg so he does not want to walk on that leg, either. It is difficult for him.

    I should add that immediately after surgery and after catheterizing, he had a cold laser treatment. Tomorrow, he goes back to get the pain patch removed and another cold laser treatment.

    He really doesn’t want to eat or drink, either. Our Vet told us that was normal and he would eat when he was hungry.

    We are following the post op instructions to a tee.


  22. Katrina

    Surgery can be scary and if you have an older dog like me it isn’t always an option. Instead of having my 9 year old dog go through surgery I got her an A-Trac brace from Wound Wear. Ever since I made the wonderful purchase my dog has been doing great! Its worth a try if you are second guessing yourself on the whole surgery thing…

  23. Nancy

    My lab Buddy, had his second ALC surgery in April. He is still confined to a pen and his bone has not fully healed. We began Ultrasound therapy to stimulated the growth in his his bone. I have 40 to 50 charges left since I used the same machine on my broken foot earlier this year. I hope that is enough because the vet is thinking bone graft if this doesn’t work.

    • Nancy

      Jan. 6 Buddy had surgery again. He had broken several screws off his plate. The vet removed the plate. He did not need a bone graft after all. Instead, he attached a bar to the inside of his leg and says that will be removed in another 4 to six weeks. He hates the collar and has totally destroyed the first one and is on the way to to tearing up the second one. It will be a year in April that this all started. I hope he will be able to get out of this small pen by then. I’m not planning anymore leg surgeries. If he limps he limps. He is almost 10 years old and has been imprisoned long enough.

  24. Ashley

    Thank you so much for this, my dog max is only 5 and is receiving surgery on Tuesday. wish us luck!

  25. Ashley

    So nervous!

  26. Danika

    Thank you for sharing your story about Jet! My dog Nellie tore her ACL a couple of weeks ago. I really didn’t want to put her through surgery so I started to look for other options. I ended up getting a A-trac brace from Woundwear and it has been wonderful! She is not in near as much pain and she can walk around the house again. Just thought I would share my story ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Maureen Logan

    Our border collie/cattle dog mix had the ACL surgery. I think the patch helped her pain, but also made her a bit uncomfortable, restless, etc. She didn’t want any water or food, but it was summer time and she loved water mellow, so I had it on hand when we brought her home after surgery. She would drool (patch caused), so I would take a cold cloth and wipe her mouth and then offer her watermelon, which she gratefully accepted.

    Sky was a rescue that came to us after her owners gave her to a dog rescue group because she had blown an ACL and they couldn’t afford surgery. The rescue group got Sky the surgery she needed and later we adopted her. We had her 6 months when she blew out the other knee. Not an uncommon happening. We took care of her second surgery and got the best surgeon we could find. She made a complete recovery. I can’t stress how important it is to follow the directions of your vet. It’s not easy to keep a high energy dog quiet, but it’s absolutely necessary.

    Today, our Sheltie, Mattie, has just had both back legs operated on for ACL tears. We were only expecting one leg, but the surgeon, (same one that operated on Sky and only does this one surgery) told us the other knee had some swelling and no doubt had a small tear too. It was a gut wrenching decision for us to opt for the double surgery, but our vet and the surgeon recommended doing it and saving her from having to go through the whole process again in six months. Our vet took Mattie home with her tonight to closely monitor her and adjust pain meds as necessary. We’ll pick her up in the morning.

    I’ll keep you posted and let you know if in a few weeks we feel we made the right choice. We are sick about putting her through this, but we are retired and can both be with her around the clock. Prayers are appreciated.

  28. Wendy

    Things to do for the dog on crate rest. Use you common sense as well. Feed only from things like a kong or other foodtoys that won’t induce a frenzy. I can also reccomend the tooth brushing video by the same author (Donna Hill)

  29. Dorina Lukins

    My 8 year old yellow lab-jennie -just got home from the vet with the acl surgery. She is doing surprisingly well-but the first attempt to flex the knee was unsuccesful-it is stiff as a board. The help em up harness is great-especially as Jennie also has a spinal stenosis and great care is taken to keep her even. She has already put her foot down and tries to follow me around the house. I am concerned about the flexing though. Any ideas.

  30. Claire

    Thanks for sharing your story about Jet! I am going through a similar experience with my dog, Bambi. She is an older dog also and tore her acl about a month ago. I really don’t want to put her through surgery just yet so I bought an a-trac brace from Woundwear. It good to hear about other experiences and how their dogs got through the surgery so thank you again! I hope the brace will do the trick and heal my poor doggie.

  31. Liz OBrien

    My lab Sadie had ACL surgery on OCT 22 2014….it took two months for her to bear weight of it …it has now been exactly three months …she saw her vet on Monday of this week they said leg is completely stable .. Today she got up and won’t bear any weight on it again … She is also going through chemotherapy for lymphoma …could her weakness be caused from the chemo? Chemo started Nov 3rd…would like to take her to hydrotherapy but worried over her being near other dogs during chemo…. Help!!!!

  32. Deb

    My cocker spaniel Spencer is 1 day post op extra capsular surgery. He started limping and favoring his left leg several months ago. Since he was not getting any better we decided to have the surgery. He seems to be resting comfortably but he doesn’t want to stand or walk so we can take him outside since we have stairs. We have to carry him or use a harness to go outside. I feel so bad for him, I hope it will get better.

  33. Carol Buck

    Hang in there. When surgeon said that the first five days will be harder on me than it is on the dog he was absolutely right! Are black lab had ACL surgery February 2014. Hardest five days that I can ever remember. But it does get better. Our lab wouldn’t eat for five days. Vet said it was due to the extreme pain meds that she was on. Hang in there.

  34. Mary

    Despite xrays, forms and a mandated $135 consultation to examine my dog the morning of his surgery, the vet operated on the WRONG knee and then followed up by doing the correct one. So now I am dealing with a 90 lb dog who can’t use either leg. Tomorrow is a week since the surgery and my poor guy can’t walk and despite the harness my back is killing me. Ten more weeks….I hope we make it.

  35. Mary

    This happened in Florida. Not here.

  36. Eric

    Hi, my dog is 13 and is getting ready for surgery in 1 week. She is also diabetic, the vet checked the blood work and said she was only high on the glucose but everything else was good. He is not forcing the surgery, as he puts it there is no wrong decision, especially with an older and a diabetic dog. I believe she did this a couple months back when I really think about it and it just now made it so bad for her that she can’t walk on it. I think surgery is the best option but wondering all of your thoughts, suggestions and tips for me. She is happy and healthy otherwise. I say older dog, 13…. just for your information. Hope to hear back quickly, thanks!

  37. Amber

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I am looking for all the information I can get on dog leg injuries since my pup tore/sprained his acl about a week ago. I ended up getting him an a-trac brace from woundwear and it seems to be working well! Don’t want to put him through surgery just yet so hopefully the brace does its job. I hope Jet is doing well! ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Linda Vallone

    Our bulldog Sir Snorticus had ACL surgery in October 2013. The key to a successful recovery is extreme discipline. My husband and I have compared it to having a newborn. The first 8 weeks are pretty rough. Looking back, a complete blur. However, if you keep your dog on leash, keep them sedated (I know it’s hard!) utilize a belly sling religiously and follow all post-op instructions from your vet, your dog should experience successful results. Sir Snorticus recovered beautifully from the first ACL surgery. 4 days ago, he had surgery on the other knee. If it’s any consolation, we know what we’re in store for. We’re not so stressed, just like your second child! Sir Snorticus is currently resting as comfortably as possible. We will be extremely disciplined the next 8+ weeks, it truly is the key! Also, we highly recommend the caretakers take time for themselves. A few hours of downtime makes a world of difference. Good luck!

    • Rachel Cramer

      Thank you for posting about your bulldog! I just found out today that my bulldog, Bruce, has torn his ACL, and we have an appointment with a specialist tomorrow, possibly surgery in two days. This is the first time we’ve been through anything like this with a pet, and we have both been emotional wrecks all day. This post and all the comments here are calming my nerves a bit!

  39. Carol Buck

    Excellent advice. We’ve been through the ACL surgery with our black lab Raven last year February 2014. She will be having surgery on other knee May 5th. Not looking forward to the 6-8 weeks of constant attention, but like you said, been here before and know what to expect. She’s 95 lbs of muscle and very active. We had to crate her for a few hours every day while we worked. I’d come home at lunch to take her potty.

    Question: Did the surgeon put Snorticus in a cast? Our first surgeon did. We are having Raven’s surgery done locally this time, and the process is quite different. No cast, stitches instead of staples, steri-strips over incision. No fentanyl patch w/ the tramadol. I’m a little freaked about the change.

  40. Vanessa

    HELP! Beau had extracapsulary surgery 4 months ago. He is now bunny hoping just like before the surgery! I’m afraid he will blow out another leg because he literally rests the lame leg on the other leg when he stands. The vet just examined him and said he didn’t thing there was anything wrong with the surgery site. WHat about the leg as a whole? THE LEG IS NOW HALF THE SIZE OF HIS OTHER HIND LEG. No more walks, he doesn’t follow me anymore. I scheduled a swim session for $35 next week and will schedule more. Do I press the vet to open him up and check it out? Beau didn’t do so well after surgery. I”m so scared and sad.

  41. Linda

    Our Viszla was just diagnosed with a torn ACL today. Vet said surgery should be done right away. Some of you waited a few months, were there any problems with waiting? Did it make surgery or recovery any worse. She just finished with surgery a week ago to remove a superball from her intestine. That was spendy! So would like to wait for money reasons and also for her to fully recover from that surgery.

  42. Peggy

    My black lab is 4 and is going to need this surgery. We don’t have any hydro therapy for dogs in my area, which has been very upsetting for me. I found your advise to be very informative and helpful. Thank you,
    A grateful dog lover

  43. Courtney

    My dog, Lucy, tore her acl and I really didn’t want to put her through surgery. I ended up getting her an a-trac brace from Woundwear and it has been working great! Thank you for sharing your experience about ACL surgery. I hope your dog is doing well ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Nina

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Great post! I am dealing with helping my Maltese heal from an acl tear. She is very tiny so I didn’t want to put her through surgery thats why I am exploring other options. For the time being, I ended up getting her a brace from Woundwear. She seems to like it and it has been helping her walk around more which is awesome!! I hope Jet is doing well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Donna

    Thanks do much for the info. I was just told yesterday she needs this surgery. It will happen in 2 weeks. She is such an active dog that it will be difficult to keep her quiet. I now have couches and chairs blocked so she can’t jump up. She is not happy. Everyone is telling me she will blow out her other one as well. I plan on following instructions to the tee. Not sure if we have hydrotherapy in our area. Thanks for sharing.

  46. Carol Buck

    Being stressed is normal. I was sick with worry and doubt when my 95lb 5 year old black lab was dx with torn ACL. we’ve been through this twice now and a blown meniscus. Advice? Follow the surgeons recommendations to the letter. Ravens first surgery and second surgery were done by different vets. Her first surgery, she had staples, a cast and fentyl patch. Second surgery no cast, no staples, no fentyl. She didn’t need a belly sling. We did keep her in a crate when not home. DEFINITELY use the pool. I think Raven would’ve benefited from hydrotherapy after second TPLO and meniscus (she had at same time). Expect arthritis. Just a fact of life, and controlled exercise will be very impressed later in the healing process. Expect that you pup may be constipated and not want to eat.

    All this to say – it will pass. The first 2 weeks will be harder on you than them. And I can’t stress enough to follow vet/surgeon instructions exactly and ask questions. You are doing the right thing.

  47. Dawn

    Great info from everyone, I wish I’d have found this when my pup was first diagnosed with a torn acl as just like many of you I totally freaked and was a mess for a few days. Mia is ridgeback x and nearly 2 years old, she had surgery today and I will bring her home tomorrow. The thought of keeping an active pup calm and crated for a couple of months does worry me especially as I have a 1 year old ridgeback pup at home too. Would love to hear anyone’s experience with such young active dogs or multiple dogs at home. I will also post an update on Mia’s progress over the coming weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. tabitha

    With all the evidence here, did any of you get pet insurance after the first surgery and have the second surgery covered? My vet says there is a 40% change of the second ACL tearing within 5 months and I don’t think I can afford 2 rounds of surgery. my dog is only 4. She tore it playing/jumping with the family.

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