About a month ago, I posted here about Zion having a torn ACL.  It was diagnosed by a non-specialist.  The vet laid him on the side, performed lots of leg pulling and feeling.  Because his knee can be pulled/extended way out of his normal range, vet deduced that it was fully torn, not partial.  That was it, no X-rays or anything else.

At the time, the lameness was severe too.  The leg was always limping and wasn't in use 90% of the time.  He couldn't run, stand on his hind legs, and had to rest often after taking 30~ yards of walking.

He advised me to find a specialist myself and possibly get TPLO done.  He was very kind and unbiased.

All that was about a month ago.  I haven't taken him to the specialist yet because I still wasn't easy about a full-blown surgery and 'butchering' his leg.

But today I'm more confused.  Zion has been getting 'better'.  In the last 4 weeks, he gradually started to use his limp leg more and more. One time he got out of the leash and was surprised to see him doing his full sprint.  He stands on his hind legs to wake me up in my bed.  The limp is still noticeable and the gait has changed, but during those activities, he's fully using that leg.

Is this normal for a fully torn ACL or was it partially torn?  Or it is fully torn, but he's just getting used to it/leg secretly getting worse inside?

I'll call the same vet today, but I also want to tap all resources.  Thank you.

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Yes, it is normal even if the ACL is completely torn.  Scar tissue builds up gradually and stabilizes the leg like the ligaments would have done.  The problem is that in the meantime severe arthritis is building up.  You are pretty far out to have the surgery done, but I still would have at least the extracapsular done.  It will be much better for the dog in the end.  Seanna is perfectly normal (had the surgery done, extracapsular).  Jackson limps quite frequently, and has to take previcoxx at least twice a week (from a puppy mill, never got fixed, has SEVERE arthritis).  But it is CRUCIAL that you not let him jump/run for at least three months if you aren't going to do any surgery.  Do not let him run around.  Conservative therapy can be done, but you still have to keep them quiet.

Hi Andrew, it is very normal for any dog to get better after a ruptured ACL (especially partial), the body grows fibrous tissue in an effort to stabilize the joint. 8 weeks is usually the recommended wait time to gauge improvement. As I've written in your original post, you need to keep Zion at a lower weight, restrict his activity and start hydrotherapy now. Give him full 8 weeks, then take him to a specialist for a second opinion. Yes, there are times where surgery is necessary, get Zion properly evaluated. Good luck!

Thank you both.


Thankfully the vet says he's not overweight (very active daily).  I'll give him another month and take him to a specialist in the city.

Hi Andrew, in order to take the stress off Zion's injured joint, you'll need to keep him at a lower weight than before, so that his healthy joint can last and not get injured from compensating the injured joint.

Zion, 

If you are even thinking of having surgery, you need to do it now.  If you are going to wait another month, then the surgery will really not do much good, as the arthritis will already be there.  Not sure what your reasons are for waiting?  Is it financial--because there are ways we can help you raise money to get it done.  I know it's a huge time commitment for recovery after surgery.  Just let us know how we can help.

You MUST keep him quiet and leash walks for potty only for it to heal. He probably already has arthritis in that knee and it will just get worse with activity. He should not be running or jumping at all. He should be in a crate or pen for at least 8 weeks. I'd take him to a specialist now, get x-rays to check on the arthritis, get him started on some joint supplements and keep him quiet. He's limping because it hurts since the bones in the joint are rubbing together. The surgery isn't "butchering" his leg. It is fixing it so he won't suffer with arthritis in the future. Sorry to be blunt, but you are doing him no favors letting him run and jump around. Read about conservative management and follow the suggestions to the letter.

Thanks again.  I meant 'very active daily' prior to his injury.  He is only taken out for potty time now.

Years later, I know. But wondering where you and Zion ended up? In a similar situation with our Corgi, Grover, who is nearly 10. 

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