My dog has injured his ACL. For the last two weeks, Cody has been favoring his right rear leg off and on. At times, he runs around like his usual overly energetic and clumsy self. Other times, he acts as if he’s in pain, moves stiffly, and favors that rear leg. Kevin took him to the vet earlier this week, and then took him back today to get x-rayed.
Since Cody is so strong, and can’t relax enough while in pain to let the vet examine his knee, Cody had to be sedated in order for the vet to take x-rays. (Cody was not aggressive toward the vet, he just sat there, its just that even that level of activity doesn’t allow the vet to feel the joint well enough to determine if the ACL is the problem.) I’ve never been sedated or under general anesthesia, but it looks like a horrible experience, not to mention that you have to miss a meal for the pleasure. My poor dog has been out of sorts all night:
The vet was not able to determine if the ACL is completely torn or just stretched. If its completely torn, our options are to go ahead with a $2500 surgery, or leave it alone and just manage activity and pain. If its not torn, it may heal, but we still have to discourage the sorts of activities that might re-injure his leg. So, either way, no more fetch (unless its in the water), no more tug, and no more Cody in the middle with the frisbee.
For now, we severely restrict activity for the next three weeks and see if it heals. Walking will be done on-leash only, and he can’t go to work with Kevin and or get in and out of the truck to go anywhere. (This is really going to cramp Cody’s style). Cody is on Rimadyl for pain (a doggie NSAID) for the next several weeks, and a glucosamine joint supplement for the rest of his life. While he was getting x-rayed, the vet also took a look at Cody’s hips. As suspected, Cody is expected to develop hip problems later in life. His hips are characteristically not well formed, and are likely to develop problems. He’s only 2 and 1/2, but this ACL issue will speed the onset of arthritis, and the joint supplement is about the best we can do to mitigate and delay those problems. The hip problem also discourages paying for surgery now if indeed the ACL is torn. The surgery is not only expensive, it requires a long and difficult recovery plan. At best, if it works, we will buy some period of time before the hip problems set in. It was also pointed out that many people live with torn ACLs and do just fine. (You can still walk and run, it just limits athletic activity, and increases the risk and onset of arthritis.)
So, given the non-life threatening nature of this injury (it is a sports related injury after-all), we are currently leaning towards not doing the surgery. We’re hoping that this heals over the next three weeks, and that Cody can mostly go back to his normal routine.