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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Monday my 9 year old 55lb lab/shepherd mix, was diagnosed with a CCL tear in her right leg. She was running with our other dog in the yard and yelped, and that was it. :( Our vet sent us home with Tramadol and Gabapentin.

I have been trying to keep her still, but she wants to get up and follow our other dog around, or see what we are doing. She will sometimes use the leg, but carries it for the most part. She is eating and using the bathroom, and overall seems happy. I know dogs don’t fully show their pain though.

The vet has recommended surgery, using the Lateral Suture technique. I am just not sure if we should. Her left leg turns in now, like it’s having trouble supporting her. She has been taking Proin since she was spayed as a puppy (spay incontinence) and has been taking Thyroid medication for a year now.

The vet sees no problem with those health issues and says her blood work is fine. He does feel she will need CCL surgery within 4-6 months on the left leg as well. He did mention that he would be supportive of pain management if we choose not to do surgery.

I don’t know that I want to put her through 2 surgeries like that at her age, not to mention the cost. However, her not being able to play with our other dog and not having a “normal” dog life makes me sad too.

Anyone ever had to deal with this issue?
 

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You have all my sympathy.

I have a friend who had cruciate repair done on a dog that old that was healthy otherwise. That dog lived almost to 14, so it turned out to be the right decision for her, but that of course is only one case.

I'm dealing with something similar right now. My not 9 till November Rottie girl has what I'm certain will prove to be a cruciate tear. She also has problems in the front end and had surgery on one elbow at 7 months. The arthritis there is bad. I held it off for years, but the front end trouble is now to where nothing seems to help. I'm sure transferring weight from the front end to the back has contributed to the cruciate tear if I'm right that that's what she has. Her hips are bad to boot.

Yet she's cheerful, healthy other than the ortho issues, eats well, etc. It's breaking my heart. I couldn't get an appointment with the ortho vet till 6/18 and don't expect him to have any good ideas. The burden of decision is on me. I think fixing the cruciate rupture will put more pressure on everything else that isn't working well during rehab, not that her problems aren't already doing that. The whole thing is just awful and I waver from day to day about what would be best for her.
 

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I know of several dogs who needed CCL surgery, usually a TPLO. Yes, expensive, and yes, a really long recovery with extensive rehab, but all of them went back to a pretty normal life, even the dog who had both done in less than a year.

I would sit down an make a list of the pros and cons of doing the surgery, and also ask you vet about non-surgical options, like braces, and go from there. Also, weight control will be important, no matter what option you decide, so make sure that she is kept lean, and not having to carry any extra pounds on compromised limbs.

One thing to look into, if you do decide on surgery, would be Care Credit. It's a line of credit that is accepted by most veterinarians, and also a lot of human doctors accept it, as well. For things above a certain dollar amount, they will offer interest free financing as long as it's paid off by the end date.
 

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I had a dog that, at age 9, showed arthritic issues in one elbow and one hip. Surgery was an option I did not pursue. I used pain management.

Three days short of her 11th birthday (2 weeks ago) I came home to her looking very ill. Not in pain, but weak and in distress. Four hours later she was gone. Turns out she had hemangeosarcoma and bled out internally. She had been very active even as of that morning before I went to work!

While not quite the same situation as yours I am glad I did not do (very expensive orthopedic) surgery 2 years previously.
 

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I had a 9-ish year old dog, 75 lbs, tear his CCL. Healthy otherwise. I opted for a modified fishline surgery that cost about $1100 all in. I used an experienced rural vet anout an hour away to limit the cost but also someone who had done thst surgery many times. It was a slow recovery as he got an infection at the anchor site but after about 3 months, he was moving well and freely. I even fostered some puppies after that where he played without hesitation and without any sign of pain.
He lived about 2 and a half years after surgery and died of something completely unrelated.

I would do it again in a heartbeat.
 

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We had a family dog growing up that tore her CCL when she was 12 or 13. We did surgery on her, she did her PT and healed great. The vet was very impressed with how quickly she recovered. She lived to be 17 years old and never needed the other leg done.
I do know a few dogs that have been successful with crate rest for minor tears.
I know a lot more dogs that have had successful recovery with surgery. If your dog is very active, I would opt for surgery. If your dog is more laid back and just plays a bit with your other dog, then I may try crate rest for a few weeks to see if there is any improvement.
My current dogs are all very active and compete in agility. I would do the surgery w/o question. (one reason they have insurance)
 

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Is it possible for you to get a second opinion? Maybe with a rehab vet? My older Lab had similar issues and was 10. I opted for surgery in the long run, with acupuncture and water therapy before and after. It helped immensely, but was expensive. I now make sure all my dogs have doggie insurance. Best of luck to you!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for all of your replies.

We have decided to go with rest and pain management for now. The vet has changed her to Rimadyl and Tramadol instead of the Gabapentin and Tramadol. She will need a blood test to check her levels at two months.

For the most part she seems happy. She has been walking on the leg more and has been eating and using the bathroom like normal. The toughest part is keeping her still. She loves her tennis ball and wants you to throw it for her. Our other dog has been good with her though, and hasn’t been too pushy trying to get her to play.

I have added some joint supplements to her food and have been sure not to over feed her. She has always been a fairly thin dog, so I’m not too worried about her weight.

If there’s no improvement at all, we are still open to surgery, but this feels like the right thing to do at this point.
 
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