Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears.
There are two different tears. One is a partial tear and the other is a complete tears. These tears fall into two categories, acute (immediate) and chronic (ongoing).
First, let's talk about partial tears. A partial tear (PT) is one that a dog can recover from without undergoing surgery. The thing about PTs is that they either heal or they tear completely, at which time your dog will need surgery. Another aspect tot he partial tear is that the dog will compensate for the injury by using its other leg to bear more weight which will cause degeneration in that knee and hip if there is no intervention by the owner.
What can the owner do in this case? Two things are vital. First, the dog needs to be crate rested and this must be adhered to STRICTLY. The dog MUST be CRATE RESTED. Ligaments are notoriously slow healers. They do not have enough blood flow to carry the necessary nutrients for fast healing. In short, letting a dog play and rough house while injured with a cruciate tear is plain irresponsible ownership. Secondly, the dog needs to be supplemented with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The absolute best source of this is Cosequin DS.
Some vets will suggest an anti-inflammatory or a cox 2 inhibitor. Unless it is medically necessary (i.e. the inflamed tissue is damaging the joint further) neither drug should be given and they dog should be allowed to be in pain. To ascertain the reason, look into the dog's future. I think a dog would rather spend a few weeks in pain rather than a life of pain. Pain is Nature's way of saying REST THYSELF. Or, "Don't do it!!" Because of pain, a dog healing will be less active and will heal more completely and permanently. And the trade-off of removing the pain is really poor: you have a greater chance of your dog getting reinjured OR the anti-inflammatory you just gave him damaged his renal or hepatic system. Dogs do not handle NSAIDs very well at all; NSAIDs will kill cats.
A complete tear requires surgical intervention by a specialist. Once the surgery is performed, the dog MUST be crate rested, with NO stairs, no jumping, nothing. This is the first two weeks of his return to the home.
Exercise schedule for the dog undergoing surgical alternatives:
PROM every day, three times daily/walking a lap around your house 1 x per day/bag of peas 3x
(PROM is Passive Range of Motion). I will be inserting pictures to demonstrate PROM as soon as I can get some taken.
What is the bag of peas you ask? Frozen peas are the BEST cold packs you can buy and they are cheap too. Apply these after ANY exercise your dog completes.
PROM every day, 3 x per day/walking lap around house 2 x per day (if your dog's limping becomes worse stick with 1 lap)/bag of peas
PROM/building laps up slowly, remember, BABY STEPS!/Peas
And so on. In between these therapy sessions your dog ought to be in his crate resting and healing. You MUST protect the good leg at all costs so that he does not blow that knee out due to the compensation. The absolute worst case scenario is when a dog has two blow knees.
Also, all tears that need surgery should have surgery performed within no more than 5 days of the tear.
The reason is simple: the meniscus remains undamaged and has less build up of scar tissue, which in turn helps the cruciate heal faster. Chronic cruciate tears are a mess to deal with.
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Updated 05 October 2005
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