For anyone who has a dog one of the best activities that you can do is to simply take them for a walk. It’s a win win for all parties as both dog and owner not only have some time to unwind and relax, but also to gain a bit of essential exercise. As a dog owner it’s really enjoyable just to see how much they love the experience, and that’s why when either party can’t do it can be so upsetting.
Five and a half year old Barney was one such patient whose owner was left frustrated when Barney started to go lame, and didn’t enjoy his regular walks. It was obvious that Barney was in discomfort, and that naturally upset his owner. Barney was soon brought in to see us to try and diagnose why Barney appeared sore in his left back leg, and if anything could be done.
Barney was generally well and the good news was that there was no obvious major issue identified with his leg when examined. However, he was obviously sore and so he was started on a regime of limited exercise and anti-inflammatory pain relief to see if he could heal the injury himself.
Initial progress was good and when we examined him a coupe of weeks later his lameness was progressing well. It was decided to give him more time and hopefully this progress would continue. Despite our hopes after a few days Barney’s owner was on the phone even more worried than before as Barney had made a sudden deterioration, and he could now only walk on 3 legs. It was obvious pain killers alone weren’t going to be enough and it was arranged that Barney came in for X-rays.
As soon as Barney was relaxed under sedation manipulation of his leg this time revealed that he had snapped his cruciate ligament – a large ligament within the knee that stabilises movement of the joint. Without its support the knee becomes painful and unstable and for Barney meant he couldn’t walk on it.
For a dog as large as Barney rest alone was not going to be suitable to heal his injury, so we discussed the various surgical potions with his owners. There are several surgical options as procedures for stabilised the injury have progressed over the years. The procedure we elected to use was a tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) where a small section of the bone is cut and re-positioned in order to alter the forces acting on the knee and ultimately to stabilise it. The bad news was that whatever the surgery performed, Barney was going to need 4 months of rest and physio before he could get back to full activity.
Barney’s surgery was done and the post operation X-rays showed good placement of the implants. Within 24 hours Barney was back at home with a structured exercise regime and physio instructions for him and his owners to follow.
Barney had regular checks over the following 6 weeks until he again visited for repeat X-rays. This time the X-rays showed his bones had healed well in their new positions and we were all pleased to see that the end was in sight. With just a few more weeks Barney could well be back on his usual walks after more than 5 months.
However, that wasn’t to be the end as just as Barney was back to full exercise and doing well he suddenly went lame on his back right leg. Cruciate ligament injury can be a genetic condition meaning if one ligament is weak then most likely so is the other; and this was the case for Barney. Once we had examined him and taken further X-rays we had confirmed that Barney had to go through it all again.
Despite the initial upset of knowing that Barney would be upset at having to have his exercise restricted once again, Barney did indeed undergo further surgery. And 6 months on he has fully healed and back to loving life again on his regular walks just in time for the summer!
It’s upsetting as an owner having to watch as your pet can’t do what they love most. For Barney his owner did everything in her power to get him better again and thanks to her care both Barney and his owner can now look forward to spending quality walking time together.
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