Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I have a 100lb lab mix that we just found out has a ACL tear in both legs. After consulting the vet and Ortho they both recommended surgery. We have searched multiple places and everyone is around $4500 a leg. So all together we are looking at spending around $10,000 to get the surgeries done with. He is two years old. The vet said that he won’t be able to do all his normal stuff after the surgery because it is a high possibility of tearing again. I love my dog an insane amount. But I’m so lost at what to do because spending that money is a huge deal right now for him to possibly tear again and not be able to do all the normal things he loves to do. Only being 2 I don’t know if that’s in his favor or if his quality of life after will not be what he deserves. I would love to hear from people that have experience with this or what you all think. Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,025 Posts
I've known of several dogs who had surgery for torn ACL. All of them were able to go back to pretty much normal life after intense rehab.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
487 Posts
Between my own dogs and rescues, I've gone through ACL surgery with a lot of dogs and with, at least as of a few years ago, all of the surgical procedures used. The fishing line surgery (sorry can't remember the more official term) is the least expensive. The other two are TTA and TPLO (again, sorry don't remember the official names). The orthopedic vets I know are no longer as enthused as they once were about the TTA surgery, and I'd be surprised if that's what you're getting recommendations for. The TPLO is the procedure most ortho vets are going to recommend, and yes, it's expensive.

You don't say where you live. I'm in Colorado, and I had double TPLOs done on one of my dogs 4 years ago for about $6,000. You have to weigh the extra rehab burden and difficulty for the dog in doing both legs at once, but there is a bit of a financial relief in it since things like anesthetic and administration of some drugs are only done once.

Are you sure the vets you talked to who said there was risk of re-injury after the surgery weren't referring to right after the surgery? The TPLO surgery involved actually cutting the bone of the leg and putting it back together with plate and screws. That means the after surgery and rehab periods are crucial, and yes, if you don't take care during that period there's quite a risk. That bone has to heal and heal the way it was put together. Your dog has to accept confinement and potty-only walks. With some dogs that means a period on some kind of drug to keep them calm. However, once the surgery heals and rehab is complete, the dog certainly can go back to normal activity. My double TPLO girl did Carting (pulling less than skinny me in a cart), Drafting (pulling her own weight in a cart over a half-mile cross country course), obedience, and rally after the surgery.

The fishing line surgery is the only one where there would be any possibility of re-injury, and anyone quoting you $4,500 for that surgery is a highway robber, not a vet. It can be and often is done by regular vets as opposed to board certified ortho surgeons, who are the only ones you should consider for TPLO.

The surgery is going to be expensive. That's a given, but if you call enough vets in your area there should be a price variation because if nothing else there's variation in what you're paying for. Some will include drugs and after-care appointments in the price quoted. Some won't. Some add cute extras. One hospital I talked to had "home visits" from some kind of therapist included. Foregoing that kind of nonsense might lower the price.

Anyway, research the heck out of this. Question any vet you're considering using up one side and down the other. Make sure you understand what they're talking about. Make sure they're experienced with the surgery. Cruciate surgery isn't something you have to sign up for tomorrow, take your time and get comfortable with what you're about to do. Find out about credit options if you need them. I'm not sure if vets have to do something in order to offer that Care Credit program, but I know it's available at some vet hospitals. You might see if there's a lab rescue in your area and call them. They probably have experience with the surgery and may recommend certain vets, may have connections to lower cost vets or know of other resources.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,555 Posts
The issue with re-injury is the weight of the dog and (probably) the conformation of the hind leg.

I know with German Shepherds ACL tears are more common in larger animals and most of those that have the surgery do not return to working competition status. The other issue is genetics. Typically a dog that tears one side will tear the other side unless it was an obvious active injury to one side (like an impact injury such as a car accident). Many a promising young dog has been retired from competition due to ACL tears.

The surgery is very expensive. I know that if I had a dog with no health insurance facing that size bill I would ask "what happens if we do nothing" and likely be looking at a very heart breaking decision.

I wish you the very best in your decision and be sure to get second and third opinions if you can.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
487 Posts
I can understand where a dog wouldn't be able to do the kind of competition you do after cruciate surgery, 3GSD4IPO. For instance, the ones I know could never jump worth a darn afterward. That's not reinjury, however, but impaired ability. My understanding is that with a properly done and healed TPLO there's nothing to reinjure, but that's what my non-vet self has distilled from grilling ortho vets and reading about the surgery. Letting a dog do too much before the bone heals - devastating, of course. My guess is just turning the dog loose after the bone heals without any rehab effort risks injuring muscles and other parts not ready for it.

With my own girl, I did a rehab course at the hospital where she had her surgery (water treadmill, balancing exercises, etc.), and one of the techs happily told me about a patient they'd had who was a top agility competitor who was back at it after rehabbing a cruciate tear.

Everyone has to make their own decisions about this kind of thing. With my own dogs I was fortunate that the first time this hit me, the dog was insured with a program that covered cruciate repair, although the company tried to fudge on its obligation. The second time the whole bill was on me, but fortunately I was able to bear the cost. When I did rescue, I'd say as many as 1 in 5 dogs came to us because someone couldn't afford vet bills. I think many people who get dogs don't realize how high vet bills can be, and not all pet insurance programs will pay for cruciate repairs.

The one thing I'd never do is nothing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,555 Posts
I did not say "do nothing." I said I would ASK what happens (prognosis) if we do nothing. That alternative should almost always be discussed when faced with non immediately life threatening emergency.

Yes. Surgery can be expensive. If there is no insurance on a dog I have a budgeted upper limit. That is me. Money needs to be considered. Just a cold, hard fact.

This is why I only have two dogs. One is uninsured and that dog has always had a budgeted upper limit. At some point the other dog will retire from competition. His insurance premiums (at some point) will become unreasonable due to age and I will drop the insurance and have a budgeted upper limit.

Because we love our dogs we want to do what is best for them. However, this must be balanced against what is best for us as well. These decisions are very individual. When someone is faced with a $10,000 vet bill for surgery that may be out of their financial reach they need to ask a lot of questions.

Does that bill include post op rehab? What does post op rehab consist of? How long does in house rehab such as underwater treadmill continue? How many days/weeks/months of crate rest? What is the long term prognosis if we do not do surgery? Can physical therapy be used instead of surgery? All questions we may not think to ask when hit with a hurt dog we love coupled with the shock of a surgical cost estimate that may put the rest of our lives in trouble financially.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
487 Posts
I did not say "do nothing." I said I would ASK what happens (prognosis) if we do nothing. That alternative should almost always be discussed when faced with non immediately life threatening emergency.
I apologize for misinterpreting the above to mean that you would consider doing nothing, and my bias was probably showing since I've never seen a dog with both cruciates torn where that would be anything but unkind.

For that matter the dogs I've seen with a complete rupture on one side show a lot of pain. For a partial tear on one leg, there are advocates of no surgery but rehab type exercise. I doubt anyone's researched the percentage of cases where that works or how many treated that way go on to have a complete tear and need surgery later or how many do okay because they're babied for the rest of their life. Not that that isn't fine for those who choose it, but I'm not one.

And, yes, of course, everyone has their financial limit and it varies from person to person depending on their situation, resources, feelings about the particular dog and dogs in general. As I said in the previous post, a lot of dogs are abandoned at vets or surrendered to rescues and shelters by owners who cannot (and I'm sure in some cases chose not to) bear the expense of vet bills. On the other hand, I've seen posts here from people who, from the sound of it, have brought themselves to the financial edge by paying for continuing tests and treatment in situations where I would have chosen euthanasia because the chances of the dog ever recovering sound nonexistent to me. I know people who have chosen amputation for osteosarcoma when it occurred in a leg in their Rottie. Except in the unusual case of a very young dog, I'd never do it.

I also didn't mean that everyone who has cruciate surgery done on their dog needs to or should take the dog for rehab at a facility that includes things like water treadmill. That's an additional choice on top of the choice to have the surgery done. I've rehabbed dogs after cruciate surgery just by doing the recommended exercises at home and increasing length of leash walks on the schedule the vet gives. The dogs that had more than that were those I wanted to do competitive things with - and did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,555 Posts
I would euthanize my dog before abandoning my dog. I cannot imagine abandoning my dog. Not EVER.

Wow. Just cannot believe people would do that. But then again, they will dump dogs on the side of the road and drive away so anything is possible. :(
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top