Hi Everyone,

Here I am with my woes about Milly and her possible torn acl. I have not been able to take her to the vet for x-rays yet because my father was in the hospital and then when he finally got out, I was involved in a car accident. In addition to other issues, I don't have a car at the moment:( So I did not get a firm diagnosis yet but this past weekend I met a vet that was visiting someone in the neighbourhood. She said to get the firm diagnosis Milly would need to be sedated however in her opinion, she thinks it is a torn or partially torn ligament. Milly doesn't seem to be in pain but she definitely favours her hind leg.

Continuing our conversation, I mentioned in my research that many vets don't recommend surgery for dogs that are less than 30 lbs (Milly is 24 lbs and 5 yrs old). She agreed that in smaller breeds, restricted activity, supplements and the dog should be fine in a few months without medically treatment. Has anyone chosen not to have the surgery for their fur babies? What has been your experience? I don't want Milly to be in pain and I certainly don't want any long terms issues with this leg not getting immediate treatment but life just sometimes gets in the way unexpectedly.

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Oh John, I hope Al is doing better soon. These little guys can make us second guess every situation. Thanks for offering to ask your breeder. It is good to have someone to trust and I think that is a big part of my issue. I really liked the vet until now when I don't feel that he is handling this situation in the best manner. Ironically, I was in to see my doc yesterday and Milly came up in the conversation (amazing how we can squeeze our fur babies into a talk :)) and he suggested a friend of his, who is a vet and surgeon. I made an appointment to see him but they are booked until next week. At least when I get a diagnosis for her, I will be able to plan accordingly.

I know what you mean about getting careless. Yesterday my mom forgot to close the sliding door when she came over with her dog and Milly got into a frap and play with her cousin before anyone could stop her. My husband jumped in pretty quick but not before a run, she is just bursting with unspent energy! I feel bad for her :( She has learned pretty quick though that she has to wait to be carried up the stairs and stands by them and waits now, lol.

John,

Corgi's are so weird.  When Seanna tore her first ACL, she would put absolutely NO weight on that leg the first two weeks after the tear.  With her other leg she just tore, you wouldn't have known she really damaged it at all. And this tear was way worse than the first. She would periodically "skip" and hop, but bore weight really without any problem and was tearing around chasing the cows like nothing had happened at all.

The only real consequence of delay is worse arthritis....

The first thing to consider is how active Milly is.  If she is a laid back dog, then yes, most vets would say you could probably get by with conservative management.  If not, then you need to have the surgery done.  Milly will still end up with arthritis with or without surgery, but it will be worse without.  I have two corgis with torn ACL's.  Seanna has had surgery on both, and Jackson tore his way before we ever got him while he was in a puppy mill--so needless to say he didn't have surgery, and being in a cage kept him pretty confined.  But, his is the worse of the two dogs, and he has way more problems than Seanna does.  He also has SEVERE arthritis.  If it was me, I'd get the surgery.  From all the research and my own experience, the dogs just do better with it.  What type you go with is a whole other thread!  Message me if you have any questions--Seanna is 10 weeks out from her last repair.

To know for sure the vet can scope the knee.They sedate the dog and insert a camera into the knee.The vet can take pictures also.If torn all the way my vet said surgery is best.Otherwise they will not be able to use the leg and it will eventually atrophy. A partial tear can be treated with rest but eventually it will tear again.My vet says ligaments do not heal and grow back.Once torn always torn. Our corgi tore both and we elected to have surgery on both knees.

Ohh, I hope the surgery went well! I feel as though I am getting so much conflicting information on just getting the diagnosis. The vet did not feel the drawer movement but she did react when he got to that part of the leg although she reacted when he did the same thing on the other side and there are no issues there! He's not sure it's an acl tear or a different ligament. No discussion about what to do with other types of ligament issues or anything. I asked that since ligaments don't show on xrays and the drawer movement isn't present, what will sedation and xrays show. The answer I got was perhaps a swollen knee. Is it worth putting her through all that? When I massage her leg or try to feel for an issue she doesn't react in the slightest but she is limping so what else could it be?!

You raise a really good point that I was concerned with as well and that is an atrophy of the muscle but Milly still puts pressure on that foot sometimes and the other night she managed to sneak past my husband when he opened the sliding door and she was running on the leg but then sometimes when she trots through the house, she kind of skips on that leg and she definitely favours it.What was your corgi's symptoms?

I guess my other question is what are the consequences of waiting. As you read in my initial post, there are a lot of issues in my family life right now. In addition to all that, I am going into surgery in a couple of weeks and will not be able to bend or lift anything for a couple more. I have stairs in the house that I am carrying Milly on now but I will not be able to until about late October. Am I hurting her health by postponing any possible treatment? OMD when it rains, it pours!

Snickers would run or walk on her leg, even with the ligament torn almost all the way through. That is part of the problem, when they have their minds on something else they can completely ignore any pain. I am not sure why some vets are comfortable diagnosing in different ways, I completely trust my vet and after 2 weeks of anti inflammatorys to rule out a sprain, he wanted sedation and x rays so that's what we did. I moved Snicker's crate downstairs and have her tethered downstairs. The only time I carry her up is when I want her company up there. I don't know if there is a time limit on when they can repair the tear, it was about 4 weeks for Snickers and as Wendy said, they waited months for Ricky-Rafa's surgery. I would keep Millie quiet as best you can until you are able to deal with it. You will then have to keep her quiet for another 2 months after the surgery.

Talked to Carrie Hale, our breeder, yesterday, and asked her about the consequences of delaying surgery.  She's not a vet or a surgeon, but her opinion is that sooner is better than later.  Ask your vets.  But the reality is that you can't nurse a sick dog when you're recovering yourself.  If you postpone the dog's surgery, allow the animal no opportunity to exacerbate the injury. I was told to keep Al crated and leashed ALL the time until we got a diagnosis (he was so dopey an Tramadol the first day, I carried him outside unleashed, and he promptly chased a squirrel...).  It's been hard keeping him in Doggie Jail all week!

Doggie jail, that's it exactly! She has so much energy and doesn't understand why we ignore her obvious attempts to get us to throw her the ball. I am seeing another vet next week that came highly recommended but as you say I can't take care of her now the way she needs after surgery. With my current injuries and my upcoming surgery I am not allowed to bend or lift and I have so many stairs in my house. I am with her all day but if I can't help her I'm pretty useless and this time of year, my family is only around for a few hours in the evening. Very frustrating!

Aside from the anti-inflammatory and restricted activity, what else are you to do for Al if your diagnosis is inconclusive? I bought glucosamine/chondritin today and will start Milly on that for her joints. I know there was one incident that caused her to limp but she was struggling to get up when over-tired for a few months so my heart feels like it's not a torn acl but something else. I will keep you posted and please do the same regarding Al.

@Dana - Snickmom is correct. We waited several months before RR's surgery. We had 2 surgeries scheduled and both were canceled bec. RR seemed perfect; one we canceled, the other the surgeon canceled! Sounds like you must take care of yourself properly if you are going to be able to take care of Milly after her surgery. Just keep Milly comfortable and restrict her activity as best you can (not always 100% possible as we all know, esp. w/ active Corgis); no steps, jumping, running, frapping (read: no fun permitted ;)   Also ask you vet about pain meds or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Dogs tolerate a lot of pain, and often don't show it like we humans. So you want to be sure that she's comfortable. It's my understanding that even with surgery, there will be some arthritis in the leg down the line. A few months shouldn't matter if you're vigilant. However, if you have to be so vigilant now, is it possible that you can manage Milly's surgery now? The hardest part for me has not been the surgery, but the vigilance and restrictions. If you're going to be doing that anyhow, maybe just consider the surgery now. Sorry, I've just done a 180 degree switch in my thinking. Obviously, it's a hard decision!

Timmy had ACL surgery in June of 2010 at age 7.  Just telling you what I've learned about ACL injuries from my experience only!  The knee is either stable or not.  If it's not, no amount of rest will stabilize the knee and surgery is the way to go.  Ligaments do not regenerate or heal, just like in humans, they need replacement or stabilization by altering the bone structure in the joint.  Two tests that can determine the stability are the Tibial Thrust and the Drawer test.  In some dogs, they are very sensitive, like us and will tighten up and make the unsedated test difficult.  That's probably why the Vet told you about the test being done under sedation.

My two cents, make sure that you talk to an orthopedic specialist regarding possible surgery.  There are several surgical options and the orthopedic vet will make a recommendation based on the dog, his conformation, angles of the bones, activity level, and after surgical care.  Many people get caught up in which surgical procedure, but the outcomes are the same with all of them. (this is shown in studies done by Veterinary Surgery 2005)  Expect a recovery/rehab time of anywhere from 6-10 months depending on how much you need to do to build the muscles back up and how many "oops" moments you have during recovery.

Sad news is that statistics pretty much show that if one goes the other will not be far behind.  Some studies actually show the incidence as high as 60-70%.  Good news after a successful surgery and long rehab period Timmy is doing fine and completely back to normal corgi antics and zooming. (After 10 months of rehab by a worry wart mom)

If not treated the injury will cause severe arthritis, stiffness, and continuous pain, no different than a human

FYI on pain indications in dogs, look for reluctance or slow to get up, panting, restlessness, agitation, yelping or whining, obvious signs like holding the leg up, not doing normal things (stair climbing, jumping).  Timmy's most obvious sign was restlessness.  He just couldn't get comfortable and whining.

Thanks Sylvia. I'm so glad to hear that Timmy is doing well! Something I did not consider until I read your post and it triggered a memory is that since April, Milly would be a little slower getting up. This only happened if she over exerted herself and I worried that it was her hips. I asked my vet about it at the time and he did a physical check of her legs and hips at that time and said it's nothing to worry about and we will just watch it. Perhaps it has been her knee all along.

Now I'm wondering if that was an indicator of something else and had he (actually two different vets at the clinic because one was on mat leave) looked at it more closely at the time, we wouldn't be here now. Does that sound like a torn ligament or something else to anyone out there?

Dana, my GUESS is that the ligament could have been partially torn and caused her some issues.  Vets like to take x-rays to rule out any obvious signs such as traumatic injury.  Also, most vets will always say that corgis hips are bad or that the dog has dysplasia, when in fact their hips are normal for a corgi.  OFA would be the "go to" regarding hip dysplasia.

My surgeon did say that if an ACL injury occurs when the dog is young (2-5 based on breed size) it most often relates to conformation of the dog and/or from a traumatic injury.  If the dog is older, and most often, the injury is the result of "wear and tear".  So speaking for Timmy, I would say since he was very active and an OCD fetcher, the constant wear and tear on his knees probably led to the ACL (by the way in dogs it's called CCL) fully rupturing.  Because I waited for a couple of weeks before making the decision on surgery, he ended up damaging his meniscus as well and that had to be partially removed during the surgery.

As to your question, yes it possibly was a ligament issue at the time, but I'm sure that's not the first thing a vet would say without the diagnostics.  Milly may have tightened up that let and not given a positive drawer sign at the time.  The delay in diagnosis doesn't alter what's going on now, but increased arthritis in the joint will surely be building up. Most vets will tell you that if you see no improvement after a couple of weeks that a surgical intervention should be explored for the dog's quality of life.

Please remember that all of these suggestions are from my experience only.  Each dog is different and ultimately you have to make the decision that's best for Milly and yourself.  If finances are an issue, Care Credit is something to look into and also Corgi Pals (through the Daily Corgi).  I wish you didn't have to be going through this.  There is never a good time, but perhaps you could both be recovering together.  :))

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