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Surgery needed for cruciate tear?

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Retriever
Age: 5-8 years
Hello again Dr. Marie, you seem like a compassionate and caring person, so I would like some honest advice bout my dog. I am very ashamed to say this, but I have allowed Gracie to reach 133 pounds. She is an average height Golden Retriever. On Monday she ruptured her cruciate ligament. The emergency vet gave us some pain pills and said it should
form scar tissue and heal in a couple of weeks. My regular vet called today and said it would NOT heal without surgery and would like to do it as soon as possible. She is nonweightbearing and won't go to the bathroom only once in 24 hours. I have some pretty severe mental illness and I am terrified for her to have this surgery. I will have no one to help me get her in and out to go to the bathroom and we have 5 steep stairs down off the deck. I bought a dog ramp and she will not use it. It seems narrow to me and slippery and still at a steep angle. I am in very poor health right now and just got out of the hospital after spending 16 days in ICU with MRSA pneumonia. I am on home oxygen which makes everything difficult. I love this dog so much and hate to see her in pain. I am in one of my psychotic type states right now and feel like I can't make a descision. Could you tell me your opinion and how long it would take her to recover? Do you the other leg will rupture while she is in recovery. She is on a weight loss plan but it takes a long time for a dog to lose 60 pounds.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. This is a very difficult situation.

Unfortunately I would agree with the second vet. If a dog has a cruciate tear, they almost always need surgery in order to recover. The exception would be a very small dog. Small dogs can sometimes heal with rest alone.

If the first vet thought that things would heal within a few weeks, it's possible that they were thinking that it was not a complete tear. Often, when I have a dog where I am not sure whether the ligament is torn or not I will put them on anti-inflammatory medication and prescribe rest for a few weeks to see what happens. But,if there is a tear then this is not going to heal without surgery.

Recovery from cruciate ligament surgery depends greatly on the type of surgery that is done. In our practice we use something called TPLO surgery. Dogs generally tend to recover very quickly from this and are walking on their own without assistance within a couple of days. But, TPLO surgery is expensive. It can cost $3000-$4000.

Will the other knee rupture? That's a tough one to answer. The textbooks tell us that in large dogs, there is a 50% chance that at some point in their life the second knee will rupture. In my experience, this number has not been so high. I would say that maybe 20% of my patients have had their second knee tear. It is rare that it happens while they are recovering from their first tear. When it does happen it tends to be a year or more later.

This is a really tough call for you. If you are not handling things well emotionally (and I can understand why) then you may want to visit your doctor before making any difficult decisions. No one can tell you exactly what to do in this situation, but if the doctor can help you to be in a more calm state of mind, then this will help you to think more clearly about the decisions you need to make.

It sounds like you can trust the advice that your regular veterinarian is giving you. It may be worthwhile to have him or her take a look at Gracie if that is possible as they will be better informed on how to advise you once they have examined her.

I hope that everything works out ok.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you so much for the kind advice. It is believed to be a complete tear she is non weight bearing and has a easily demonstrated drawer sign. I don't know what it's called but it is the surgery where they use the strong filament to stabilize the joint. The cost is 2700 dollars.
I have scheduled the surgery and I am hoping for the best.
Thank you

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I pray that everything goes well. Dogs are really good at recovering from surgery. Best of luck!

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.