Doggie knee rehab advice.
March 25, 2008 6:09 PM   Subscribe

Opal, our yellow Lab, tore her ACL and it was surgically repaired six weeks ago. The surgery was a success, and Opal is doing great except that she still refuses to use the leg that was operated on. I realize it will take time for her to trust the leg again, but what can we do to encourage her to use it normally? We're afraid the stress on her good leg will lead to another torn ACL. Opal thanks you all.
posted by jimbotex to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
You are right to be concerned? What did the vet who did the surgery say? Did they offer any rehab post-op? If not, I would find a rehab clinic and get Opal in there post haste. The post op op period is critical for successful recovery, and rehab/physio is becoming more and more available (it is standard to include at least 10 sessions of rehab/physio post-cruciate surgery at the clinic I work at).
posted by biscotti at 6:21 PM on March 25, 2008

Oops, "You are right to be concerned!"
posted by biscotti at 6:21 PM on March 25, 2008

WHen I was little I think I read a Dick and Jane story about the same thing and they put a bandage on the good leg. Might not be what a doctor would recommend tho!

Good luck Opal.

(I think all dog posts should have link to said adorable dog!!! hint hint)
posted by beccaj at 7:02 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

If your lab is like every lab I've ever known, a thrown tennis ball is irresistable. How about a day in the park playing fetch?
posted by Class Goat at 7:04 PM on March 25, 2008

You should definitely follow up with the vet and ask about physical therapy options. I know several dogs who have had orthopedic surgeries and all had, at a minimum, a home physio routine of working the joint and light massage. A couple of the water-loving breeds were referred to swim therapy to help regain range of motion without bearing weight.
posted by weebil at 7:15 PM on March 25, 2008

Is your dog on hardwood floors and/or tile in your house? My lab/husky mix mutt is sometimes nervous about slick surfaces, and he's never had any leg surgery, or even leg injuries that I know of. Maybe your dog would feel more secure on carpet, or at least on pathways made of throw rugs with non-skid gripper pads underneath.

Godspeed, Opal!
posted by chippie at 7:43 PM on March 25, 2008

Take your lab swimming.
posted by Ostara at 8:11 PM on March 25, 2008

You might try VERY slow walks, a few minutes at a time. Dogs walking/trotting at a normal pace seem to build up momentum, and it is easier to hold the injured leg up when they are moving quickly. A slow pace will encourage her to bear weight on the leg in a controlled way. Try taking her for a few short, slow walks--make sure you are going slowly enough so that she is walking next to you, bearing weight on the leg, and not just trotting happily along and holding the leg up.

I also second checking with your vet and/or a rehab center.
posted by MagicDolphin at 9:27 PM on March 25, 2008

Please please please consult with a vet before you do ANYTHING else - this is not an AskMe question, this is a vet question. Unless you want to pay for this to be fixed again and/or pay for the other knee to be fixed, do not start throwing tennis balls or even swimming your dog without talking to someone professional (vet or rehab-specialist vet tech) who knows what they are doing as regards post-op rehab for a cruciate repair. It is usually weeks of very restricted activity including careful application of various forms of physiotherapy on a twice a week at least bas when post-op rehab is done properly, and I would be SERIOUSLY questioning why your vet hasn't talked to you about this, given what it usually costs to get a competent cruciate repair done.
posted by biscotti at 3:27 AM on March 26, 2008

I'm a women's basketball fan. This sport's premier athletes (D-1 college starters) suffer ACL tears at a horrifying rate. Surgery is just the first step. Months of rehab follow. Opal definitely needs the therapy that biscotti suggests above. And super nutrition. Good luck!
posted by Carol Anne at 5:39 AM on March 26, 2008

Do not throw any tennis balls! Fetch is out, at least for now. My Chocolate lab (Max) had this done a couple of years ago, and our vet said one of the leading causes was the abrupt stops and change of direction these big dogs make when chasing a thrown ball. Sadly, we don't play fetch with him anymore.

He also favored walking on three legs for a while, as he had done when the one leg was injured. He eventually began by tentatively placing it down, then began putting more weight on it etc..., We were also instructed to do specific stretching exercises with the repaired leg to loosen it up post-op. You should have gotten these same instructions.

In other words, yes, speak with the surgeon or your vet (mine were not the same person).
posted by genefinder at 10:06 AM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. We live in an isolated west Texas town with no access to any therapy options besides what we can do for Opal. We'll try slow walks and patience.
posted by jimbotex at 6:32 PM on March 26, 2008

« Older I'm considering Santa Cruz for my Ph.D work. What...   |   How do I get free coachella tickets? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.