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Complete rupture of cruciate ligament in senior dog

  • 27-05-2019 7:33pm
    Registered Users Posts: 364 ✭✭

    Just home from the vet with my 14 year old female dog. She has completely ruptured her cruciate and it happened a simply as her pottering up the garden yesterday. I'm devastated. I was aware that the only solution to a cruciate injury is surgery but giving her age I dont want to put her through surgery and months of rehab. The vet gave her a shot to help the joint and some antiinflamatories for the next week to see if there is any sort of improvement so that she might be managed for a period on meds.

    I'm just looking for anyone who has been in a similar situation and wondering how their pet managed with non surgical treatment?

    My dog is in good health otherwise, alert and eating as normal... in fact when I put on her collar and lead to bring her to the vet she headed off down to the gate thinking she was going for a walk!

    Any advice welcome


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,249 ✭✭✭magentis

    Poor girl.

    I would go with the surgery and rehab.She clearly has plenty life in her,when you took the lead out.Sounds like she ain't no quitter!

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,442 ✭✭✭Choc Chip

    I'm saying this with the absolute understanding that I might be slated for it. But....

    At 14 years old, surgery would be a very different option for my terrier versus my german shepherd x. One is 9.5kg (and thin - he's definitely oversized), the other is 30kg. They have very different life expectancy's and very different surgical outcomes based on their weight.

    I'm not saying I'd go for surgery for one over the other, but I'd have to look at them at that stage and decide what was best for them. There are people here with actual experience of the surgery OP, but do have a think about your dog, it's age combined with it's type, and then chat to the vet about the potential outcome before making any decisions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 364 ✭✭kassie

    We had a brief chat about options, euthanasia of course was one of them. Shes a beagle type build and breed, weighing 17kgs, so was very active in her hay day and was still fond of a zoomie or two! I shot down surgery straight away because I didnt think it would be fair on her and the vet said she was inclined to agree with me. We opted for the injection and anti inflammatories in the hope it might give her some weight bearing back and reassess her in a week. But now I've had a chance to really think about things I'm just hoping there might be some sort of miracle out there to keep her with us a little while longer, I mean I knew her days were numbered at 14, I suppose its the shock of it and the fact shes perfectly fine aside from the cruciate injury.

    Anyone any thoughts or experiences with cruciate braces? Do they work? Even just as a interim remedy?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,274 ✭✭✭cocker5

    What about hydro therapy OP?

    Maybe this would help over time

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,277 ✭✭✭aonb

    One of my dogs completely ruptured his cruciate. He was 10 at the time. A bit of a fatty. We went with the surgery option. It was 6 weeks of recuperation. I have to say it was absolutely ok - I contained him in a section of the family room - so he wasnt in a crate (not crate trained) he could hobble around a bit. Lifted him out for pees and poos several times/day. He hobbled about on 3 legs. We slowly built up with very short walks (5 mins) increasing slowly. He was using his leg quite soon after the surgery. Made a Complete recovery.

    A relative of his - lighter bitch - tore her cruciate last year. An elderly dog at 16, but full of energy and life. Her owners decided not to have surgery. Rest and reduced walks were the route they went down... she was lame on/off for the rest of her life (died as result of an accident last week :() it didnt seem to hamper her in any way really. She was a JRT X, and full of life until she passed away.

    You can get a 'strap'/sling that might help. I guess it depends hugely on what breed your dog is? A larger dog is more difficult. If shes eating/drinking and wanting to go for a walk she cant be in a lot of pain?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 532 ✭✭✭Springwell

    There is no conservative treatment option for a complete rupture (a partial tear can be managed with months of cage rest and controlled reintroduction to exercise, hydrotherapy etc especially in smaller dogs but it's not optimal). Without surgery the dog will be lame mechanically even if the pain is being managed so she's not lame from pain per se - if you can manage her pain well then it's an option but no amount of rest/hydrotherapy will fix it unfortunately :(

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,041 ✭✭✭✭tk123

    If one leg is gone I’d assume the other could be likely to go too from bearing all the weight so you’d possibly need to brace both legs? I did use a brace for Bailey for a while but only on walks - i wouldn’t have left it on all the time. You could maybe use a towel or make a diy sling to help her get up and take the load off the other leg? A dog in the park here used to be brought out in cart when it was injured lol :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,274 ✭✭✭cocker5

  • Registered Users Posts: 32 fergie bxl

    So sorry you're facing this. My 10 year old sheepdog who weighs 22 kilo had the operation in February last year. The vet tried just one session of laser therapy first but then decided to go ahead with the op. Recovery was to be approx. 8 weeks and although I followed his advice to the letter, it was July before I felt she was really recovered and using her leg normally. Even the vet admitted that she was making very slow recovery and told me she was 'very sensitive'. I slept in the living room with her, rearranged the furniture to confine her to a small space for the first 2 weeks, supported every trip to the garden and even as she improved made sure she never attempted to get on the sofa. Minding her 24/7 ruled my life :) Everthing else -I cancelled.

    You've had excellent advice here already but every dog is different. I think you must also consider your dog's emotional state / character and your own circumstances. Are you working or can you commit to the kind of care your dog would need for rehab and a full recovery.

    Your dog sounds like a strong character so would probably take a lot of minding especially as she recovers. That's when they think they can dash down the garden or run to the door when the bell rings. I put a note over the bell on my front door with my mobile number
    so no one would ring the bell!

    Now a year and a half later i still never let her off the lead and keep the excitement situations to a minimum because unfortunately, when one goes the risk is higher that the second one also goes.

    BTW... there isn't just one way of doing this operation - it may be worth investigation if there is a specialist vet in the area - Isn't there a vetinary hospital in Dublin?

    I hope you'll have some advice from people with older dogs and I wish you courage in this difficult situation.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,819 ✭✭✭✭peasant

    Our 14 year old terrier tore ligaments in her back leg last year. We don't know the exact amount of damage, because we never got her X-rayed (sedation required), but the vet was able to move the joint in and out in her hand, indicating a complete rupture.

    We decided not to go for the operation straight away and try the alternative first, mainly because of the huge disruption and very long recovery (we would have had to travel for the OP and having a terrier caged for months to recover didn't sound great either)

    So we had her on repeated shots for the joint and slight pain medication for several weeks. After two weeks she stopped limping while still going slow but about two months later she was back to normal.

    She's a bit less speedy and jumpy than before, more befitting her age...but if you didn't know that there was something wrong with her leg you wouldn't notice anything.

    Obviously she was really lucky, but we are really happy that we could avoid repeated sedation, stress with the operation and a long recovery period that would have driven all involved demented.

    With a younger dog we probably would have done the operation, but with an old lady we wanted to avoid stress as much as possible

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  • Registered Users Posts: 364 ✭✭kassie

    Thanks folks!

    @peasant that sounds very encouraging, obviously every dogs case is different but at least i know its doable!

    i was contacted by a friend who had a 13 year old collie in the same situation and with complete crate rest and meds she was back on her feet in a few months, again its very encouraging!

    This is promising and has lifted a weight from my mind, we've an apt with the vet next tuesday to reassess the situation and i'll speak with her further on our options!

    thanks to everyone for their replies :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 532 ✭✭✭Springwell

    peasant wrote: »
    Our 14 year old terrier tore ligaments in her back leg last year. We don't know the exact amount of damage, because we never got her X-rayed (sedation required), but the vet was able to move the joint in and out in her hand, indicating a complete rupture.

    Glad your dog healed so well, Pleasant. In terriers and other small dogs conservative management often has better results :) Just to say the joint test (Called cranial drawer) just indicates damage to the cruciate it doesn't give us any info on the degree of rupture

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,819 ✭✭✭✭peasant

    Springwell wrote: »
    Glad your dog healed so well, Pleasant. In terriers and other small dogs conservative management often has better results :) Just to say the joint test (Called cranial drawer) just indicates damage to the cruciate it doesn't give us any info on the degree of rupture

    Absolutely, but as things worked out so well, we didn't see the need to put her under for an x-ray to find out the finer details.

    BTW...first time ever anyone has called me "pleasant" on boards :D:D

  • Registered Users Posts: 532 ✭✭✭Springwell

    Sorry for the name typo!