Who knows about dog’s ACL repair?

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Mar 20, 2011
So our beloved 11.5 yo Golden Retriever blew out her ACL. We have a very good vet that we have a lot of confidence in but I’m wondering how your dog did and which path of treatment you chose. We were told there were three options: medical, surgical suturing and TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling). It seems obvious from the vets recommendation and everything I’ve read online that the last is most effective and quickest in returning function of the leg, especially in dogs over 50lbs. If you and your dog have been through this, I’d appreciate some feedback, pro or con. Thanks.
Had it done on our sheepdog mix, worked well till she passed away two weeks ago. We have a 40 lb English staffordshire terrier that blew both knees two days apart. Our vet was out of town, horse doctor did repair which did not work. Our vet fixed the job when he returned, has been good for last 6 years.
Had it done on our Lab. Worked out fine. Just make sure you keep them limited in movement for first two weeks to let it heal.
I had it done on two dogs, one a female Shepard/Rottweiler mix and the other a male Neapolitan Mastiff. The Mastiff is a very large breed and they used SS plates for the repair. It was done before I was given the dog but costs $5000. The Shepard/Rottweiler went back to almost daily swimming in a pond the next spring and was good as new by the end of the summer. The Mastiff is fine but the breed has goofy hips which is not uncommon for large breed dogs. I keep the Mastiff's weight on the lean side.
I went thru TPLO with my old mastiff. She was not quite 8 months old and around 120 lbs. and tore her ACL. Surgery went reasonably well, we had an ACVS vet do the surgery. The first month was a pain in the neck, as she was young and wanted to get moving. She did always have a limp afterwards, but not enough to keep her from taking a daily walk, growing to 240 lbs, chasing squirrels, or from working as a therapy dog with children. Fast forward 7 years, she developed bone cancer at the surgery site. From what I've learned since, the cancer may have been caused by the plate installed with the TPLO surgery, or from her young age and cutting thru an active growth plate. My neighbor went thru the same thing with his medium sized dog about a year after. His dog did not bounce right back, he took nearly a year to resume regular walking and such. Additionally, his dog ended up having the plate removed, but now is taking regular walks and chases rabbits. I would do my homework and check on vets in your area. We got 3 opinions. I would also check on the outcomes for their patients. The suturing is rarely successful in dogs over 50 lbs. TPLO removes the need for the ACL by removing the angle in the dogs knee. This makes their knee geometry more like a humans, somewhere around 90 deg. The angle can be checked by careful x-ray. This in not inexpensive in time or money. I wish you and your pup good luck.
Thanks to all for your replies. That video is great OneeyeJack. I’ve shared that with my wife and daughter. Everything I’ve seen or read points to the TPLO as the best possible treatment for our dog. Accordingly, we gave to go-ahead to our vet today to set up the referral. We have a very good surgery center nearby so we have a high level of confidence for a good outcome.
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Today is surgery day. Nervous about our 11+ yo golden getting through the procedure then how tough recovery will be. We are working with MedVet (at the recommendation of our vet) who has a very good reputation here. I have an experienced, board-certified surgeon so should be good there. She will spend the night in the hospital so we pick her up tomorrow.
Best of luck to you and your golden. We have a rottweiler/lab mix that was diagnosed with a torn ACL a little over a year ago but elected not to put her through the surgery as she is 14+ and has had complications with surgery in the past (not an issue of money, we have medical insurance for her that pays 90%). She does okay with it, she just can't put a lot of weight on that leg.
Thanks for your input, Rogue. It’s good to know that one can treat it medically-it’s not the end of the world. Our dog is healthy and there’s no reason to think she doesn’t have at least 2-3 more years so we decided to go ahead.
Any update? And to expand on what I said before about mine, given her age (actually just turned 15), she also has a bad leg in the front (growth plate surgery at one year old) so it would have made the recovery even harder. She gets around fine as it is, occasionally with a limp. I just hope it doesn't hurt, but she gets a daily dose of Rimadyl anyway.
Today is Day 2 Post-op. She seems to be doing as well as can be expected. She is eating, drinking, peeing, pooping. She has about a 50’ walk to her “business” pen which we take her on leash and with a sling relieving weight on her back end. She is not bearing weight yet which is expected. Incision looks good. There is some swelling and we are trying to do the passive rom exercises 3x per day followed by icing. She is taking Rimsdyl, Tramodyl and an antibiotic. I will feel better once she starts putting some weight on it.
One week post-op: Riley is doing great. She is putting her foot down with each step although not bearing full weight ie still limping heavily. But in general, wellness is returning. She gets up and down more often, greets people at the door as usual and so on. She begins formal PT in another week. Very pleased so far.
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