October 12, 2012

Relay has a torn ACL

As we were driving over to pick up Relay, Mary informed me that she had already taken him to the vet after a night of rest showed no signs of improvement. The vet believes he has a torn ACL. Not the kind of news you want to hear over bluetooth.

Thankfully, the diagnosis leaned towards the chance of Relay healing on his own with rest for 4 weeks as opposed to it being completely torn which would mandate surgery. That rest required us to make some adjustments at home.

I made some very sad phone calls to our rescues to say we had to take a break from fostering. Internally struggling with the idea of not getting back Trixie already, I was unprepared for the one two punch to loose Max and Little One at the same time. I really love those pups and it's like their stories will be left unfinished in my mind. I had not realized how cathartic the adoption process was to letting go. And a part of me feels like I'm letting everyone down.

No one more so than my poor baby. Relay, sorry puppy but your mom's at a loss.

I have been looking into ACL injuries and healing on your own without surgery is normally not advised for dogs over 30 pounds. At 38 pounds, the vet must have thought the injury slight enough to try. But this path could also mean he'll break it anyway or tear his other leg from over use. It's going to be very hard keeping a an active dog as subdued as possible and each time he runs I cringe. Trying to be proactive, I'm  looking into some supplements to the medication prescribed by his vet.

In the mean time, I have this nagging question in my mind: why? Certain breeds are predisposed to ACL injuries, but to my knowledge my mutt doesn't have those in his makeup. Dogs that are overweight or under exercised are also prone, but he is very trim and very active. His diet is varied to allow for the best health. What then? One reference mentioned a link to dogs neutered under 5 months. Relay's paperwork at the pound mistakenly estimated his age at 6 months when he was snipped, his real age being closer to 3. But how much stock should I put into that?

Sigh... I'm going to have a nice long pity party / stressing session, and then I need to pull it together. My dog needs me.


Riley - from http://adventuresofacattledog.blogspot.com/

had surgery for bad hips and was young so maybe looking over old posts or contacting his owner will help you in figuring out ways to keep Relay entertained during the healing process.

Keep us posted!

Poor guy :(. What about swimming or an underwater treadmill for exercise? Minimize stress to the joints. My foster dane has dysplasia and we take her to a wonderful place called PAWS for Rehabilitation in Virginia Beach. They have an underwater treadmill and pool. They work with dogs with orthopedic issues and are awesome.

So sorry about Relay's knee. Been there, done that.

Actually, the predisposition to cruciate tears has been traced down to such things as early spay/neuter, under-active thyroid and so on. Abnormalities in other parts of the leg, obesity and other aspects can also contribute.

The thing is that the dog knee anatomy is somewhat unfortunate in its design, which makes it more likely for the ligament to get injured.

The success of conservative management depends on a number of things, the ability to control your dog would be the most crucial one in my opinion; more so that the size. It's about keeping the knee stable. Like a button that is hanging by a thread, if left alone might stay put forever but any additional force and comes off.

There are some supportive treatments to assist with healing, such as acupuncture or prolotherapy. There are also braces, which stabilize the knee externally.

I have a story about conservative management on my blog and there are a number of stories on www.dogkneeinjuries.com

If you want, you can email me and talk to me about knee injuries, plenty of experience here.

Oh no, so sorry to hear about Relay. Wish I could offer advice but I don't have experience with this one. Looks like Blueberry's Human, Renee and Jana have good resources for you.

I can't remember - do you already have a crate for Relay? I know that will be helpful in keeping him still-if he's used to one already.

Talk to you soon.


Poor babe... hope Relay feels better very soon!

I'm so sorry to hear about Relay! Our dog Jester tore his ACL a couple months ago, and we decided to go a conservative management route because we couldn't afford surgery. We did a lot of research and decided to use the WoundWear A-Trac Dynamic Brace. It took a bit for him to get used to, but he was able to put weight on his leg almost immediately. This product saved me thousands of dollars and greatly improved the quality of Jester's life. Our vet has also been extremely impressed. She said she would feel comfortable recommending this product after seeing the huge improvement with Jester's ACL - Almost 100% healed! I highly suggest this brace to anyone looking for an affordable alternative to surgery.

Good luck with everything, and I hope Relay feels better!

-Emily K.

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