Cruciate ligament injury in small dog

(28 Posts)
Pringle89 Wed 01-Jul-20 19:54:10

Our little dog (9kg) has been limping on and off for a week, took to vets and suspected injury to his cruciate ligament (not sure exactly how bad as X-ray needed to determine). Vet has advised rest - no jumping up on sofas/stairs and short lead walk round the block each day for two weeks and metcam to see if it heals by itself (which apparently it can in small dogs!?). Vet wants to see if any better after two weeks and if not X-ray and then surgery 😭

Just wondered if anyone else has had the same issue and it got better with rest or any alternative therapies that helped prevent the need for surgery?

OP’s posts: |
Floralnomad Wed 01-Jul-20 19:57:43

My sisters JRT x border had a cruciate injury treated conservatively with rest but he was not allowed out for walks at all for a few weeks it was actual rest . It did get better though .

PenelopePitstop49 Wed 01-Jul-20 20:01:24

Our lab had this aged 8 - couldn't put her back leg onto the floor. However our vet decided to do the "drawer" test under sedation, and a partial tear became a full tear. I was bloody furious. It took her months to even be able to hobble around the garden and I'd say it was around 6 months for it to heal enough for her to have a quality of life again. (we discounted surgery due to cost and her age)

When her other one went 18 months later, we rested her completely in the worlds biggest crate for 6 weeks and she recovered so much better.

PenelopePitstop49 Wed 01-Jul-20 20:03:54

She only went out of the crate for toilet breaks on her lead, and we carried her over the back door step. It was complete rest, just for reference. She was happy enough as the kids climbed into her crate with her, she was in the living room so around us all, and she had lots of deer antlers and bones to keep her occupied.

Someaddedsugar Wed 01-Jul-20 20:09:10

@Pringle89 not a small dog by any stretch but our English bulldog had to have surgery on his back leg for this and he coped amazingly.

We were told to give him short walks only relatively quickly and although we had a few scares (took him back to our vet who said he’d overstretched it and not to worry too much) his leg has been ok since and his quality of life is back to what it was.

He was 5 at the time and we were concerned due to his age/breed but our vet was incredible.

Our vet had said that if he’d been a smaller breed it may have healed on its own but at 27kg it wouldn’t happen.

Veterinari Wed 01-Jul-20 20:14:17

Dogs under 10kg can do well with conservative treatment but it needs to be very strict rest

Veterinari Wed 01-Jul-20 20:17:05


If it makes you feel any better if the crucial tore due to a cranial draw test it would have torn fully at some point regardless - It must have been hanging on by a thread.
As she's had bilateral crucial disease it sounds as if she had a genetic predisposition and inherently weak cruciates.


PenelopePitstop49 Wed 01-Jul-20 20:27:19

@Veterinari thank you for that.

Derbee Thu 02-Jul-20 17:23:42

@Pringle89 we were advised to have surgery for cruciate ligament damage in our medium (13kg) dog.

We weren’t keen on the sound of the surgery. She did a number of sessions at a physio vet, in a hydrotherapy pool, and we got given a half hour set of small exercises to do at home every day (including lying a ladder on the ground, and making her walk over it etc etc). She totally recovered, and never had the surgery.

Pringle89 Thu 02-Jul-20 19:32:30

@Derbee that’s very encouraging! My husband took him to the vets and just said the vet couldn’t be certain it’s his ligament without an X-ray - could be a sprain. I’m wondering if I should be doing some kind of physio/exercises to try and help the healing process?

OP’s posts: |
Pringle89 Thu 02-Jul-20 19:33:59

@Veterinari they can’t be sure it’s his ligament without X-ray, is there anything else I could be doing other than rest to help him? My hubby took him and didn’t ask the right questions 🙄

OP’s posts: |
Derbee Thu 02-Jul-20 23:01:18

@Pringle89 I’m not a vet, but I’d always try other options before surgery. Maybe look for a hydrotherapy physio vet and see what they say? We were referred by our normal vet

Veterinari Thu 02-Jul-20 23:13:34

Strict test and anti-inflammatories - metacam or similar.

If you still have questions phone and ask the vet to call you back as you'd like to ask a few more questions.

Veterinari Thu 02-Jul-20 23:15:52

* Maybe look for a hydrotherapy physio vet and see what they say? We were referred by our normal vet*

They'd say they need a referral from your normal vet and no vet is going to refer a dog that needs strict rest for physio.

Physio/hydro can be helpful but not in the acute injury stage. It will be at least 2-3 months before physio or hydrotherapy are appropriate

Derbee Fri 03-Jul-20 12:25:22

It certainly wasn’t 2-3 months before our dog went to the physio vet.

The vet that did all of the hydrotherapy treatments said that vets are often too quick to offer cruciate surgery., because the physio is time consuming.

Although I’m sure every situation is different, I would ask for a referral to a specialist for a second opinion, rather than just go ahead with surgery. Good luck!

My0My Fri 03-Jul-20 12:31:57

Our dog (Lhasa Apso 11 kg) was clearly in trouble as his leg was effectively loose where the ligament damage was. He just ran in the garden and no obvious reason for the damage. No way that was going to repair itself and it was obvious even to me that surgery was needed. He did water therapy after and short uphill walks. Totally recovered and insurance paid.

However, if they do one, the other will go too. Insurance didn't pay for the second one.

Floralnomad Fri 03-Jul-20 13:12:29

The other one may not necessarily go as well , my sisters dog lived another 5/6 yrs and his other leg never went .

Pringle89 Sat 04-Jul-20 11:03:58

Thanks for all replies - I’ve not seen him
Limp since he started the metcam and rest. Is it likely the drugs are just masking the pain? Trying not to get My hopes up!

OP’s posts: |
YouAreTheEggManIAmTheWalrus Sun 05-Jul-20 14:32:13

Hi I’m in a similar boat, came to post and found yours!

If your dog isn’t limping now just from taking metacam then injury rather than rupture sounds plausible, so it might not be quite as bad as you think? Ours has a rupture now and has been on 3 legs for 10 days even with strict rest and metacam, but he has had issues in the past where he limped for a day or so then seemed fine with a week of anti inflammatories and no walks for 3 weeks.

If you have questions I’m sure the vet would be happy to answer them over the phone?

Vet also said that the other cruciate will go at some point in next 6 months, meaning he would need 2 ops... so hopefully the crate rest will avoid him needing either. My understanding is once they have a problem with the acl it’s something that will worsen over time and can potentially affect both legs.

I’ve searched other related threads on MN and there are a few so have a read through because theres good advice and things my vet never mentioned. Also it seems there will be arthritis in the joint afterwards and it can take months to heal depending how bad the injury is, with a very slow rebuilding of walks after the crate rest period is over. In effect, older dogs have had to be “retired” and can’t really manage walks over a mile again. Again it depends on the severity so may be worth a chat with the vet to decide on the course of action.

We’re only a few days in and each day the progress seems different, sometimes he holds it up all the time, sometimes he tries to put it down intermittently, but that’s still more than he was doing last week when it happened. He’s on metacam and it seems to knock him out thankfully because he’s usually so active. I just wanted to try this route and get him to a point I can get him to hydrotherapy as that’s supposed to be really good for this type of injury.

You have my full sympathy, it’s awful to see them struggle, fingers crossed for both of them!

My0My Sun 05-Jul-20 15:02:19

If it’s not treated there is a risk of more damage and no dog wants to be lame half the time. After the op and rehab the leg is stronger. You simply don’t worry about it again. I think making a dog go through pain and be unsure about the success, or not, of not treating isn’t fair on the dog.

I think vets make judgements on the second one going based on severity of first rupture and conformation of the dog. Of course not every dog will rupture both but if a vet says be aware, then they say this for a reason.

YouAreTheEggManIAmTheWalrus Sun 05-Jul-20 15:22:16

Under 15kg conservative medical management is a perfectly acceptable method of treatment. If it wasn’t fair on the dog, vets wouldn’t suggest it.

My0My Mon 06-Jul-20 01:13:33

No vet I’ve spoken to has. But I guess the severity of the injury is important. It’s probably only suggested for uninsured pets and people who are unable to pay.

Floralnomad Mon 06-Jul-20 01:54:09

I don’t think vets only suggest it if they think the pet is uninsured / there would be payment issues , some vets just don’t necessarily jump straight to wanting to operate on everything that comes through the door .It’s perfectly possible to get good results without surgery on smallish / light dogs .

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 06-Jul-20 08:42:19

@My0My there has been a retrospective study that that looked at the long term outcome between all the types of surgeries ( there are many and no one is better than another) and rest. It found that regardless of approach the long term outcome of DJD ( degenerative joint disease) is the same. Surgery is strongly recommended for large breed dogs to get them weight bearing quickly again. In dogs of less than 15Kg defiantly conservative approach is a good one. Even with surgery the have to have rest and physio/hydro.

Amicompletelyinsane Mon 06-Jul-20 08:46:19

With rest it's a case of loads of rest and then v gradual reintroduction to exercise. I've seen so many who rest and then ruin it all by letting the dog go mad once it's free. Fingers crossed its a Sprain.

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