Torn Cruciate

SDroosty

New member
Hey guys just looking for any personal experience or advice. Had a great year here in SD chasing birds, but also had a very unfortunate event for my GSP. Long story short she was on point and when released let out a high pitched yip. Very weird, thought maybe she stepped on something as she then began to drag her rear left lag. Took her into the vet and turns out she tore her left rear cruciate ligament, essentially the human ACL as I understand. She is 10 but you would have never guessed that if you had hunted behind her, still going as good as ever and the best bird dog ive had. Really tore me up to have to leave her behind on hunts post event.

The vet said on a dog of her age they'd rarely do surgeries. Said its going to calcify but wont ever be the same and not likely to hunt as may regress to the mean if done nothing. What are peoples experiences on this? Have you completed surgeries on older dogs? How did that turn out over the next 2-3 years? Have you left it alone and had any success calcifying? Just looking for any experiences or opinions. Again shes a german shorthair who is about 47 lbs and is 10 going on 11 in Nov.

I have had a few quotes for surgeries that are 4-7K. If there is a high percentage chance that'd get her a couple more years hunting or just allow her to enjoy herself outdoors i'm very willing to do it.

Thank you for any insight or help!
 
Had an 3 legged lab , she was 10 at the time.tear her only rear legs acl. We hoped it would get better on its own. Did not. A couple weeks later took her to a highly respected orthopedic canine surgeon. He asked what our goal was. I just wanted to see her functional without the limp and pain. He said what would you think if she can hunt again!!! We had him do the TPLO surgery. It took several months of rehab as she didn’t have the off leg for support. She proceeded to hunt that fall and the following fall!!!
Several notes many many vets do few tplo surgery. Pay the money if you want to proceed for a orthopedic specialist. Rehab will be faster as your dog has all limbs. That said it will take regular and slow rehabilitation. You will likely have a total recovery. Lastly when a dog blows a acl, they ARE prone to blow the second.
lee had no regrets, but that said the money is significant.
 
We spent 4500. 2.5 years ago. We put her down this fall for inconontence. Her leg however was still functional, she did have spine arthritis! If you want to visit live happy to help . Sorry you are in this situation!
 
I would think you have 3 options..
1) have the tplo done, knowing that at her age, you are spending a lot of money for a couple more seasons with her. The tplo can provide a very successful outcome, especially if done by an experienced, reputable vet. I had one done on a 9 yo gwp female many years ago by dr. Randy Acher in idaho. It cost me around $2500 and I was happy with it. Got a few more seasons out of her before she sucumbed to dementia.
One caviot.....if you fix the one knee, it's fairly common to have the other one blow out later. Sort of a fingers crossed kind of deal....
Also,the recovery takes months, not weeks...it's a pretty aggressive fix.
2) opt for a tendon/ ligament repair surgery and not plan to hunt her.
3) opt for her to adjust to the injury and see if she can recover enough mobility on her own. She won't hunt again, and might even have a hard time with mobility. Losing a rear wheel is a bigger deal than up front, imo...

Good luck....it's a tough decision
 

Labs

Active member
My 15 year old Betty tore an ACL in 2015 (9 years old at the time). With her stellar career I figured she had earned a replacement rather than a repair so I paid to have one of titanium put in. A vet came up from the University of Minn and did it with our regular vet assisting. I expected this would be the end of her hunting but the vet said it would take about 4 months to heal up and that it would be better than new. He also said she would be far more likely to have a problem with the other than the titanium one. He wasn't exaggerating, by Fall she was healed up and hunting hard and nearly as fast as before, albeit with kind of a weird gate.

In 2019 she tore the other one. She was semi-retired at that point. This time the two options were to repair it or treat it with ultrasound & daily Rimadyl to make her comfortable in her old age. The consensus was either way she was done hunting.

I did consider repair but couldn't find a vet out here capable of the job. Ultimately we & the vet we use out here decided to treat it & make her declining years as comfortable as possible. After it healed up she could still run a bit, just not very fast. She doesn't like retirement one damned bit. She will run down & bring back her ball as long as I care to toss it for her. When I'm training the rest of the Wrecking Crew she absolutely insists on getting a couple bumpers too. She also expects a couple blinds with dead birds when we come back from hunting. She did a few "old dog" hunts in our food plot, just me & her so she not competing with the younger Crew members.

BTW, this is why I got health insurance on all of them after her ACL replacement surgery. Cost $2500 out of pocket at that time, likely far more now. Had I had the insurance on her we have now, it would have been $250 out of pocket for the deductible...
 
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BigRand

Active member
I know that sinking feeling in your chest when they come back dragging their leg. I've had my current lab tear her CCL about four years ago. We opted for the TPLO since she was five at the time. It's a lengthy process through recovery. Takes months like previously stated. They also told me the odds of the other leg going out were pretty high. Knock on wood she's been ok since. If I had to do it again I would in a second. Got pet insurance the next year to prepare for the possibility of the other knee going. Just make sure you have someone who's done quite a few. Would you let someone who only does surgery part time fix your knee?
 
Dr archer in Idaho is one of the best vets in the us. He specialized in sporting dogs most of his career. I know the note mentioned 2500. But that was some years ago.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
at age 3.5 and then 5.5 my female lab suffered the same outcomes...both were done non-TPLO at the Ely Vet Clinic, Ely, Mn...both procedures under $1,000...all-in. I give her rimadyl while hunting...not perfect, but I have 3 dogs and don't have to hunt her all the time. I have sent about 5 others to that clinic with favorable results as well. Lots of people come from the Twin Cities, and other far away origins, to go to that clinic based on price and their skill...they have several vets who work there but one dedicated surgeon...can't recommend them highly enough. Schedule in the spring or summer and spend the night...awesome part of the world to spend some time. recovery wasn't too bad...a few months...I swam her in lake superior for the majority of the recovery...there were other therapies I performed prior to that on a daily basis which they taught me. Knowing both are likely to tear, I couldn't justify 5-8k for the total...I have been pleased with the outcome, but like I said, if she were my lone dog, I would have had a problem, as hunting her 100% of the time for days on end wouldn't have been feasible.
 
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benelli-banger

Well-known member
fwiw, ely is home to many, many sled dog mushers...one musher easily can own 30-60 dogs...i suspect that vet clinic does CRAZY numbers of procedures of the type we are discussing...one vet who works there told me she herself has about 70 sled dogs...can you imagine????
 
Sled dogs....don't get me started...lets just say, I don't think mushers make good neighbors..

Back to the subject at hand....I had dr. Acher do the tplo 15 years ago....so yeah, I'm sure it's more now. Although, even back then, his price was hundreds less than other vets I talked to, who had a fraction of his experience. I got the feeling he was in it for more than just the $$$. He really had an appreciation for working dogs of all flavors.
He trained with the vet who perfected and patented the tplo technique...if memory serves me correctly. Top notch vet....don't know if he's still practicing..
I think the breed could factor in to the decision, and possibly even the individual dog. Dogs that are supercharged and only have high gears probably wouldn't hold up as well to the repair BB used. A dog that doesn't jump a lot and likes to plod along might do very well with the ligament repair technique.....
The ccl is really a dogs achilles heal.....the beauty of the tplo is that it addresses the mechanics of the joint and I agree with the comment earlier that it might be better than new after the procedure...
Interesting comments on the pet insurance....would like to hear from some who have had hassle free, successful payouts on claims..?
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
the dogs I have referred to the ely clinic were labs and golden retrievers....and like mine, did pretty darn well with the procedure...and not necessarily hard hunted dogs....but mine is, maybe 30-40 days per season...she may have been hunted 50-60 other wise...
 
I think it's great that option has worked out for you and the folks you reccommended. I would guess that it's possible they have improved the materials and technique and are getting better results than I was seeing reported 15 years ago. Thoughts ?

Also, to correct my earlier post.....it's spelled Acker...Dr. Randy Acker and it looks like he's still practicing in ketchum idaho.
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
I think it's great that option has worked out for you and the folks you reccommended. I would guess that it's possible they have improved the materials and technique and are getting better results than I was seeing reported 15 years ago. Thoughts ?

Also, to correct my earlier post.....it's spelled Acker...Dr. Randy Acker and it looks like he's still practicing in ketchum idaho.

could be...I don't know...I had the first surgery done in 2014, the 2nd in 2016....I have supreme confidence in that clinic...knowing I was electing apples....and TPLO was oranges...the cost difference mattered to me. Today, if it were a young dog that I had great confidence in, I may do TPLO...very possibly...but, i may not...knowing how satisfied I am with what they did for my dog...
 

benelli-banger

Well-known member
off topic, a different dog of mine sustained an injury to a front shoulder in 2019...age 4...ended up at a blue pearl clinic...happy to spend all the $ I did to try to diagnose the situation...had them inject her with a steroid at a cost of $730...seemed to help...initial costs were probably around $400 between two other clinics...I give her rimadyl during the hunting season...seems to help....for me, the answer is to have 3 dogs, 4 at times...knowing barb wire tears happen, other injuries happen...3k for an ACL wouldn't likely be my decision if another dog of mine had a ACL tear...I have confidence in the ely clinic...if it were an incredibly special dog, maybe....but probably not...just me...knowing the likelihood of the other side needing the same surgery.
 

SDroosty

New member
Really appreciate you guys taking time and sharing insight. I much prefer hearing personal experience and success stories from here rather than googling online. I'm likely to do something with her this spring as its hard form me to watch her hobble around. Maybe leaning towards the TPLO. Will do some more research on Drs and cost. Thanks again
 

Chestle

Active member
My little brown Bonnie's (a small 55 pound Lab) story: Bonnie would try to jump my wooden fence, 5 feet tall, to get out. She'd jump straight up on her rear legs. At about age 1, she landed wrong on a slope and tore her left rear cruciate. That was early 2006. I had her "fixed" using the ECLS technique (basically nylon line around the external part of the joint to stabilize it. She recovered pretty quickly, however her body rejected the material used. It puffed up and drained. They removed the artificial material around 6 months post surgery and said the joint would calcify and stabilize eventually. It did. She hunted SD in the Fall of 2006, albeit a bit sparingly. I didn't overwork her, I lightly worked her.

She hunted SD for the next 7 years with no problems and no restrictions.

In 2014, she tore her OTHER right side cruciate ligament. She was now 9 years old and, at the time was also suffering from Blastomycosis. We didn't know if she would survive the Blasto (nasty stuff; vet said she probably got it from mold in landscaper bark), so the vet said no knee surgery, just let it go. Well, we managed to cure the Blasto and the knee recovered. She could walk and trot but by the time everything healed up, she missed SD 2014. She did hunt SD 2015-2018. She was pretty good up until 2017-18 when I cut her back to just a field or two per day, maybe 60-90 minutes total. Yeah, she was slower but she was still game.

I didn't take her to SD in 2019-20. She'll be 16 on Feb 14. Still walking around on those crappy rear knees. She needs help getting up about half the time. Sunset is not all that far away.

That's the story of her knees. She and I found/shot/retrieved a lot of birds after that first cruciate and a fair number after the second.

Good luck with your dog. Hope all turns out well for you.
 

UplandHntr

Well-known member
2 CCL’s and 2 TTA procedures on one of my Goldens. I think it was approx 4 and 6 years old. Came thru it just fine. The cost will make a guy puke but what are ya going to do....
I really think its harder on us as it is the pups.
 
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