Poor Lame Pooch
April 23, 2015 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Our beloved 5 y/o rescue Pooch has, according to the vet, torn his ACL. We need help navigating this. I have read all the previous AskMe's regarding this, but we have our own snowflakes.

We have to go the conservative management route. I am due with Baby Nicholas 2.0 in a couple of months and we can not afford a $4000 surgery for him in addition to paying for a new human. The vet said it would cost about that much. He doesn't do surgery himself because we use a mobile vet who comes to our house, so no facilities. He suggested calling around to see how much everyone is charging and to try the nearest tech school. Anything over $1000 is not going to happen.
He also said there is no guarantee that it would be a permanent fix because our dog is so energetic and our yard is a slope.

All that being said, we want to do right by him. I am dedicated to helping him with the resources we do have, which right now is only time and love. I stay home with our toddler so I am always here. Everything I have read says he needs to stay crated for a minimum of 8 weeks to see if there is any difference. He is really chill in the house. Can I leave him to roam when no one is home? He is starting to bear some weight on the leg, but I'm not sure if that is good or bad. Do I need a brace for him? Any recs for some good busy crate toys?

I feel awful that we can not afford this surgery. He life is going to suck with or without it for a while between healing and the new human. Any pointers on how to make all this any gentler on him? All he wants to do is play fetch or at minimum tug of war and I feel so crappy that I have to keep saying No.
posted by MayNicholas to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Oh, what a pretty dog you have! I've written previously about torn canine CCLs--my beloved Westie had surgery for it, and now, as an old dude, is suffering from osteoarthritis related to the injury and surgery.

You shouldn't feel badly about not being able to do the surgery. Instead, focus on what you can do. If the vet says that you can try isolation and see if that improves the condition, then try it. If he/she suggests pain meds, try it.

I will say that if you do try something, don't do it halfway. Go all out. If you crate the dog at all times, don't leave him out unless you have direct sight on him and could stop him from running or jumping.

We've had great success with Truprofen (as opposed to tramadol) for pain relief. And keeping Fergie at a healthy weight, and giving him light exercise, helps too.
posted by FergieBelle at 11:12 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's this brace that can help you through the next few months to see if he improves. It's ~200.00 ish.
posted by asockpuppet at 11:15 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

My moms dog had this happen twice now, the first time she was able to borrow the money from a friend/neighbor to get the surgery done....less than a year later the dog injured/tore the OTHER ligament (though not as bad I guess as the first) in the other leg and this time she wasn't in a position to pay all that again so is going with the home care...just take it easy sort of solution and so far so good.

Every dog is different so your millage may vary but if nothing else know you aren't alone and she had a really hard time deciding not to have them operate that second time.
posted by Captain_Science at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't be too hard on yourself - it is what it is. It wasn't that long ago that surgery wasn't even an option for this injury. It probably would pay to get a second/third opinion though just to be sure, and maybe get some better info on pricing. If it doesn't respond well, or gets worse, at least you'll have some idea what the costs might be.
Of the dogs I know with ACL/CCL injuries many do fine with conservative care. Braces seem to work well for some dogs, and less well for others. Can't hurt, anyway.

He should be crated when you are not there. Probably best to crate him at night, too. It really will be best for him. You can also attach a leash or long lead to his collar and leave it hanging. That usually works pretty good to slow dogs down - they will need to be supervised though. A half hitch can help you keep him from jumping, too. He really needs to stay off that leg.

Also, watch the weight gain. He's less active, so he'll need less food. A lower weight means less stress on joints and a quicker recovery with less chance of recurrence. In my experience (with hunting/sporting dogs), dogs that are a bit underweight are less likely to re-injure.

As he starts to feel better, you will need to police him even more strictly. He has no idea he could re-injure himself, so you really need to keep a closer eye on him then than you do when he's still sore.

You might look into some puzzle toys and frozen kongs full of peanut butter. Also teaching him some easy tricks (touch, play dead, etc.) can be a good way to keep his mind occupied and stimulated.

Good luck! You sound like a good doggie mom.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:27 PM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our small dog tore hers and we could not afford surgery. She healed completely and never even limped. I know all dogs are different, but that's our data point.
posted by raisingsand at 1:26 PM on April 23, 2015

You definitely want to get a second opinion, preferably from an ACVS-qualified orthopedic surgeon (even though you're not planning to have surgery), because CCLs are often misdiagnosed. I speak from experience: my own dog was misdiagnosed with a partial CCL this year, when in fact he had an iliopsoas strain. Ilio strains and CCL tears can both be treated with rest and rehab exercises, but you have to know what you're dealing with. Once you do, I would then spend another $200 or so to visit a certified canine rehabilitation therapist (CCRT) who can give you a graduated rehab plan that you can do at home with your dog. Both of these things can be done for well under $1000.
posted by HotToddy at 1:53 PM on April 23, 2015

I have a smallish dog, 7 year old dog that tore his CCL about 4 years ago. I did surgery, it was just a hair under $1000, so maybe do some more checking around with vets to see if there is a cheaper option (there were a variety of surgery choices, I went with the cheapest one, which I think was called an extra capsular suture or something like that)

However, I don't think you should feel super bad about not being able to do the surgery. My dog had trouble with his other knee, and because the recovery from the first surgery was pretty miserable for both of us, I didn't immediately do surgery on the second leg. It took a while, but he is totally back to 100% now without a second surgery. Your little guy might be totally fine without surgery.

Also, Glucosamine Joint Supplements (For real. I have run out a few times in the last several years and they totally make a difference!) and frozen bones from the butcher to keep the dog still in a cage both helped a lot.
posted by mjcon at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you for the responses so far! I will definitely look in to the surgeons and what other surgeries may be available.

Anyone know if he can take supplements while on nsaids? He is 50 lbs and is on 100mg of Quellin a day.
posted by MayNicholas at 6:01 PM on April 23, 2015

Talk to your vet (and/or spring for a consultation with a specialist) regarding alternatives to surgery. Surgery is not the only option.

Check out the blog mybrownnewfies.com. The author's dog, Sherman, is doing well on conservative treatment. (You'll have to search the site for posts on the subject, but the blogger includes lots of info.) The blogger is also very responsive if you contact her by email.

Good luck to you and your beautiful dog.
posted by Boogiechild at 10:47 PM on April 23, 2015

Response by poster: In case anyone finds their way to this question, I have added a follow up question here.
posted by MayNicholas at 11:07 AM on May 14, 2015

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