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Knee Injury

Jim Bob

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Have a 7 year old lab that hurt his rear leg 2 months ago. 1st vet thought he pulled a muscle and said to rest, after no improvement got second opinion. Xrays show he has torn cruciate ligaments in both knees. Has anyone else had this problem or heard of it. Have you had surgery to repair it and how did it come out? Have scheduled surgery for next week and just curious.

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Have seen several dogs with that happen. I've never personally had a dog tear their ligaments, but I know 2 that came through surgery in pretty decent shape. A lot of swimming re-hab and short walks, but they functioned fine. My sister had one that tore his out and he couldn't do any strenuous work, but managed to get around the yard and house for 3 years like that. Never really seemed to bother him pain wise, but occassinally would give out.

Good Luck with the surgery!


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I was wondering how many people have come across this.
I have a 2 year old Chocolate lab, and she has blown both legs out. Worse yet, she blew out her back left leg TWICE!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, she has had 3 surgeries on her back legs to repair ligament damage.
Today, she basically runs on 3 legs. Having 2 surgeries on her left rear leg has really done a number. She limps very noticeably when she walks.
1st surgery was back right leg.
2nd surgery was back left leg.
3rd surgery was back left leg again.

Her right leg has come back very strong. Its just that her 2 surgeries on the back left leg have really done a number on stiffness. We have her on rimadyl(not sure on the spelling) which helps her movement and stiffness.

My biggest worry is how stiff she will be in her older years. I just pray she is able to get around OK in her elder years, versus having to make a horrible decision to put her down if she is having problems getting around.
The surgeries were almost $600 per incident.
The University of MN has a surgery that is between $1000 and $1500 and has a much faster healing rate and better overall success.

I hope all goes well with your dog.
My advice,,,,,,, Make darn sure you keep the dog restrained for several weeks. Its very tough, but very necessary.

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BLB...I was told by one of the guys I know who's dog had surgery that he should have his dog do a lot of swimming for re-hab.

This got me to thinking...Your dog probably won't suffer from any joint deteriation but rather muscle atrophy from lack of use. I would bet that she probably still uses that leg some for swimming and I would think this would be a good way to keep the muscle tone up. I think the stiffness you see is from the repair itself over tightenening the ligament. With low impact exercise this may even help stretch them a little so she is able to walk a little more naturally. Just a thought...Hope she goes another 10 years for you!


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She gets her fill of swimming(at least in the summer). I have a pond in the yard and we are at the parents cabin a lot.
I think you are right though.

The vet said that arthritis will probably become an issue as she gets older as well.

Bottom line, the ligament damage sure caught me by surprise, because I had never heard of it. And the surgery is not exactly minimal intrusion. Man, they sliced her up pretty good. Quite a pathetic and saddening sight when I picked her up at the vet.

I am not trying to scare you in the least. Believe me.
Its been very tough watching my dog go through these steps, and it was quite shocking to myself and the wife as well. We are pretty tied to our 2 labs. They are our other kids to us.
Shoot me an email if you want JimBob, and I can fill you in with quite a bit of general info on this whole thing.
[email protected]

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Appreciate the feedback, will keep you posted.

BLB, you've got mail.

Thanks again.

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Jim Bob keep your spirits up she should be hunting with you next fall. My oldest Golden is fourteen and has had both of her rear joints repaired(ACL). The first at six and the second at eleven. She is still able to pheasant hunt at fourteen for about an hour if you stay out of the swamps. Like Biglake stated the first surgery was around $1000 and the second was $1500. I had a vet from the "U" come and do the operation at my vet clinic. Try to keep her calm after the operation and give her rimadril or asprin for the pain. NEVER give a dog advil or ibroprofin it can be fatal. If you have any other questions or want a reference on my vet feel free to ask. Hope it turns out ok.

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I have yellow lab/golden retriever hybrid that is my pride and joy as a friend and hunting partner. This past Sep. while I was out fishing in a tourney she blew out something major in her back left leg. Had a vet do a free check of the leg and he said she had torn or broken something like what you guys are discussing. I can't afford to have surgery which blows because she was just hitting her prime at four years old. On the bright side she will still play hard with the other retrievers at the resort and hunt hard. There is just a whole lot of limping going on for a few days afterwards and when it is really cold.

Options people might consider that don't have a lot of spare cash around would be to buy liquid glucosamine or tablets to be given once it gets cold out or before and during a hunting trip.

Or take out an insurance policy and pay the deductible.

Anyone tried these options?

This is great topic we can all hopefully learn something from...thanks for all and any more input guys.


First Choice Guide Service
The Cass Lake Chain
Phone: (612)730-9620

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When I was researching breeders about 2 years ago, the breeder I ended up getting my dog from filled me in on what the University of MN veterinary school told him about why dogs blow out knees. The problem mainly stems from improper knee angulation. Now adays alot of people want their dogs built for speed (for running trials etc.). This leads to dogs' legs becoming "too straight" as he put it. This makes the dog more prone to blowing out its knees (tearing an ACL). That is the reason my breeder breeds for what he calls a 50/50 mix (50% conformation line, 50% field line). My breeder in all his years has never had a dog have knee problems. Now I need to qualify something. Most of the dogs my breeder sells are not hunted much at all. Mine on the other hand gets hunted as much as I can get him out. He is about 19 months, has a great nose and is healthy as can be. Just my attempt to impart a little of my limited knowledge.

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My oldest female ended up blowing out both knees. First one shortly after 4 and the other probably about 7. My question to the surgeon on the second was "is there anything I could have done differently". His response was "probably not". He compared it to pro athletes blowing out their knees. The muscles get stronger than ligaments can tolerate. He also stated that the first one did not cause the second. However, having the first one greatly increases the chances of having the second. Some dogs are just predispositioned. He had helped on research of one legged dogs and their rate of incidence was no higher than 2 legged dogs. This female was also from both worlds. Half pedigree of bench champions the other FC and AFC. Surgeon said it was the most muscular lab he had ever operated on. She recovered well from both surgeries. The hardest part is getting them to stay calm during the recovery. She only hunted until 10 years due to arthritis. Arthritis is the bad part of this injury. In most cases, when you notice the dog limping, you are not noticing the ligament damage. It is the arthritis already setting in. The new supplements will probably help this to some extent. Keep us posted on your progress and best of luck.

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I don't know what it cost but I think the insurance would be worth taking a look at.
Their are several types of surgery and the one we are having done runs approx. 2500.00 per leg. Can you say OUCH!

Had surgery on the right leg this morning, vet called and said everything went great. Takes about 3 mo. recovery time and then we'll do the other leg.

Will keep you posted.

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I was interested in this topic and I hope I can shed a little light on the process. I am extremely familiar with human acl reconstructions and rehabilitation, and assume the dog procedures will be similar. The acl prevents the lower part of your leg from moving forward in relation to the femur (thigh), so this is why hyperextension injuries usually affect the acl.
The surgeon will not "tighten" the ligament too much. Most limping is from the muscles that were cut to access the acl, and muscles shut down after an injury/surgery as a protective mechanism. Thus making rehab important to regain proper muscle function and strength.
Swimming sounds like a great activity, but I would hold off for a little bit. Usually in humans the ligament is the weakest 2 weeks following the surgery, because it has to turn into a ligament, (tendons are usually used for replacement).
With a good early repair, the arthritis should be limited. Arthritis is usually caused by too much extra motion between bones, which is what happens without an acl to prevent the forward movement of the lower leg potion.
Glucosamine is supposed to help with cartilage loss, but nothing has beem proven yet.
I know this is long, and based on human procedures, but I would think it would be similar. Hope it helped a little.

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  • 2 weeks later...

He's doing good. Operated on the 7th going in on the 21st to take the staples out. Have to keep him inactive for 6 weeks. No problem for a Lab. (Right!) After 3 months they want to do his other leg.

Problem stems from what jeffyo45 describes improper knee angulation. From Xrays you can see what the problems are. Vet here (Colorado) specializes in this problem. Says he does 12 to 15 of these a week. Process is called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy.

Anxious to see how his right leg responds before doing the left one.

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