Active dog with a sore knee
October 4, 2014 11:41 PM   Subscribe

My dog had an extracapsular ACL (CCL) repair a year ago, and is limping again. I'll take her to the vet this week but I assume this is the arthritis they said might develop "later in life" (I didn't expect it to be so soon).

She is only just 8 and otherwise very healthy and extremely active. Her initial X-rays a year ago showed no arthritis at all in her knees or hips. It breaks my heart that she'll be on anti-inflammatories for the next half of her life, and that she won't be able to do the long walks she loves.

Are there any alternatives, internet people? Should I push for an arthroscopy in case it's the meniscus? Do dogs have total knee replacements? (She's already on green mussel extract and I'll get some glucosamine too)
posted by superfish to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your dog might not have arthritis yet so hang in there. It could be anything, she might even get better on her own. Give your dog some rest now and consult with your vet.

You didn't mention the breed of dog but some dogs are quite happy with creative lower impact outdoor outings. Kit your bicycle so your dog can tag along. Go swimming. Tow your dog on a sled while you are on cross-country skis, etc. Have a timer handy for other activities - for instance play ball but only for one or two minutes. Take short but targeted walks on unstable surfaces such as the beach or rocks to improve the dog's reflexes and stability. Kit your house with gear so that the dog is warm, has comfy beds everywhere, and possibly raise height of the food dish or make other adaptations to accommodate for your dog's limitations.

Having a dog on drugs isn't terrible if the dog can stomach the more recent NSAIDs like
Metacam. Metacam is a pain in the pocket book but could be a miracle worker for your dog. I'd rather put my dog on drugs than operate.

I know this is tough, I just went through a health scare with my 8 year old dog and it is horrible. We had to really think through the end of life plan for our dog and the quality of life that we want for our dog. I encourage you to do this work. We are heartbroken at the idea that our dog must die, and we are saddened that it will likely happen before he turns 12, but that's the way it goes sometimes. We decided against orthopaedic surgery due to expense and age of dog. You should really think about why you are thinking of going that route without conservative treatment for the limp first.

Our dog is happy with a slower paced lifestyle, even though we thought that would be impossible. We are slowly training his strength back. It can happen. We are just so pleased that our dog is still alive and with us. We go to some lengths to make the dog (and in turn us) happy and he has very good quality of life even though he is perma-banned from certain activities.

Hang in there. Take a deep breath, step back, and reflect on what is happening. Really think through next steps and end game, keeping your budget in mind. I hope your dog gets better soon.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:56 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

t breaks my heart that she'll be on anti-inflammatories for the next half of her life, and that she won't be able to do the long walks she loves.

What breed (if any) of dog is this? Because I don't think 8 is premature, particularly for a dog you know is going to get arthritis, and I'm not sure 16 is a reasonable life expectancy.

Either way, don't worst-case-scenario this: anti-inflammatories were very effective for our dog and let her lead a very active life until her death. Taking them daily isn't a big deal.

You can push for whatever you want but I would advise you to let your vet make a diagnosis before you make any decisions on that.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:32 AM on October 5, 2014

After healing from an ACL injury this past winter (by keeping her at total rest for two weeks -- we decided against surgery. For anyone reading this, it worked in our case. This meant no stairs, no walks, no jumping, basically total rest) my dog now occasionally limps after a long walk or run. However, I give her an anti-inflammatory and have her rest for a day, and she is back to running without a limp the next day.
I think living this way is not so terrible for her; for my dog, going through surgery would be worse.
posted by third rail at 7:05 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW, our dog tore her ACL, began limping a couple years later, and it turned out she tore her miniscus (same leg). Had surgery and she was good to go...that is, until she tore her other ACL...and then a couple years later her other miniscus! I think we got that last surgery for free because the vet felt so bad for our dog/us.

just to say it might not be arthritis and it also might be completely fixable.
posted by Shebear at 7:51 AM on October 5, 2014

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