How Have You Helped Your Dog Recover From an Injury?

April 22, 2011  

We asked our Facebook fans if their dog had ever sustained a major injury and what steps they took to help their dog recover. ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) surgery were common as well as a severe case of happy tail!

Thanks everyone for sharing!

Photos courtesy of Melissa Lipani

Scarlett is currently in week five of her second TPLO surgery( the first was in November). We will still let her play fetch once she is fully healed (another month in the box and then a month on short leash walks, then a month on long leash walks), but she will have to sit and stay while we throw and then she can go get it. She is on glucosamine too. And we are keeping her weight down, which is essential.

~ Kate Simpkin

ACL tear – confined him to a very small area so he was forced to mostly sit or lie down. Made a brace out of a pillowcase that I slipped around his belly to help him walk – he was a teeny Yorkie and very old, 18 years 3 months when he tore his ACL.

~ Maria Delgado-Daniels

Strict crate rest for six weeks, resulted in no surgery for a torn ACL. Six weeks without a service dog is like a year without a pet.

~ Karen Lewandowski

Our Dexter tore all his internal stitches after being neutered and nearly lost his life. We have another Staffie at home who just wants him to play with him all the time, but had to keep him very quiet. The cone did a good job of that as Duke was scared of it. I was an overprotective mommy for a long while!

~ Janine Glass
ACL tear- Glucosamine and Chondroitin helped soooooo much. ~ XEz Evolve

My poor Cleo was very neglected in her first home. When we adopted her, she came with a limp. She had been walking on a complete ACL tear for months. She had her surgery, but arthritis and scar tissue already formed. A couple years later she tore her other knee. We went back to the same surgeon. She now sleeps on an orthopedic bed and gets glucosamine every day. No more Frisbee for her!

~ Ginny Brown-Cerasani

No ACL tears yet, give them time, but during a snow storm last year, one tried to jump the fence into the vegetable garden and didn’t make it and impaled herself on the fence. The fence went 5″ into her abdomen. Our streets were closed due to the snow, so I had to carry her seven blocks to the edge of the neighborhood where the streets were plowed and had my mom pick me up so I could rush her to the ER. She’s doing well now, but it was frightening at the time!

~ Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

My dog Rocky has had ACL surgery on both his knees (as well as spinal surgery). All the surgeries were a success, but keeping him quiet during recovery was a challenge. On his first knee surgery, he even chewed his staples out twice (a big, hefty cone is a must)! The vet had never seen a dog do that right after surgery (while he was in the hospital).

~ Micaela Myers


(Micaela Myers’ dog Rocky)

My very athletic female American bulldog at 8 years old blew out her knee and tore the ACL on the other knee. She was in excellent health, so Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialist in Houston replaced the one knee and repaired the other, in two separate surgeries. She is about to turn 13 on the 23rd. It was a lengthy rehab and she seemed to understand her limitations for the most part. Overall it was a good decision and she was able to run, jump etc.

~ Kay Bynum-Brennan

Our 16-month old pittie, Daphne, tore her ACL at doggie daycare. Rest wasn’t doing it, so we resigned ourselves to a rice and beans lifestyle and opted for TPLO surgery at a top-notch orthopedic clinic. We have months of rehab ahead, but because Daphne is so young and active, I believe we made the best decision for her (even though she is bored to tears at this point). We are spending LOTS of quality time together, and she is the sweetest patient in the world. Let’s just hope she isn’t in the 50% of dogs that tear the other ACL!

~ Linda Shen

Shorty hurt her back jumping to the tune of $8,000 back surgery, her scar on her back makes her look like a piggy bank.

~ peace love and pitbulls

My Rocky blew a disc in his back and the trauma caused blood to harden on his spine and paralyze him from mid-back through his hind legs. Took him to a neurosurgeon and paid about $6,000 and then went through about six months of intense home therapy. He’s never been the same physically, but he has use of all legs and is still with me 10 years later. Now he gets acupuncture and does hydrotherapy to keep him in decent shape.

~ Jamie Healy

The only major injury Juno has had was a German shepherd stuck is snout through a fence and just about bit off her nose! It happened late on a Sunday evening while we were on a play date. I stayed up with her all night as she cried. Luckily, I had some left over pain pills from her spay! Took her to the vet first thing in the morning! They gave her a shot and antibiotics, so happy she didn’t scar physically or mentally!

~ Robine Yvonne France

She had a hip injury at age 5. We did massage and stretching with her and she takes Rimadyl to this day. But she is 17 years old now and a happy baby.

~ Janet Holt

And it really takes nothing at all to tear – Our dog is just built funny and the tearing seemed to just be how he is, not as a result of injury. I own a boarding kennel and two dogs have torn it here, not even playing hard or doing anything, just a downward twisting motion and POP!

~ Kate Simpkin


I have a female Am Staff who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and required a toe amputation. Thank God I am anal about checking every lump and found it so early I am blessed to still have her with me 10 years later. The biopsy was taken and sent to Cornell and then the amputation. She is my miracle dog!

~ Millie Hubbard

Molly tore her ACL in early October of 2010. After TPLO surgery, she was given strict orders to maintain a sedentary lifestyle for 10 weeks, followed by 10 weeks of carefully monitored rehabilitation with activity levels slowly increasing weekly. You keep a pittie sedentary for 10 weeks!! She was definitely not having fun! Thankfully it happened as the weather in WI was getting colder…she’s not a real big fan of being out in the cold. Needless to say, rehab was a long process, but I am happy to report that Molly is as good as new. The whole process was long and arduous, but the results have been amazing and I wouldn’t trade having her happy and healthy for anything in the world. Oh, yeah, and we now have her on daily glucosamine, as well!!

~ Michele Last

Yes, torn meniscus and ACL. We eventually had surgery after several months of rest and medication. Doing great now, but no more jumping or flying after Kongs! Just easy walks and low throw games of fetch.

~ Pink Daisy

Raisin is seeing a surgeon this week for consult. It began with a limp in his front leg so vet said bed rest and anti-inflammatory medication. I did that for a week then another week of just rest. The limp still there, but better. I had X-rays done and am not sure if it’s bone fragment or mineral deposit. Fingers crossed.

~ Heather Blair

My pibble is fine (knock wood), but my 5-year-old mystery dog (rottie/chow/heaven knows) had apparently been living on two blown ACLs for some time when I got her. She does OK on Rimadyl and Tramadol. For me, the deciding factor in not getting surgery was that she also has arthritis in her spine. She would therefore need the meds even if both ACLs were corrected. But she was very overdeveloped in the front and atrophied in the back. Two months of hydrotherapy and physical therapy at the U of MN gave her the muscle tone she needs to walk comfortably and now my job is to take her on short walks and not let her slouch so that her muscles become unevenly developed again.

~ Ellen Weinstock

Sadie lost her tail about two years ago. She used to have classic happy pitty weapon tail. She was constantly cracking it open and bleeding all over my house on any wall corner or cabinet corner in the house. I was vet wrapping it about once a month. The last time it happened, it got very infected, and had to be amputated. The whole experience was very traumatizing for both of us at the time, but to be totally frank, I don’t miss it now – It used to give you bruises and welts! Now she’s got a nub! LOL!

~ Ashley Scott

My elderbull, Noel, was kicked in the head about 10 years ago by a horse. Unfortunately, my husband and I were in Scotland at the time while my mother was house-sitting. Noel’s sinuses were crushed and her eye displaced from the socket about 1/4″. She had an open wound from her nose, up her muzzle and over her brow. My mom and my friend got her to the vet hospital. My vet was absolutely wonderful and put Noel’s welfare first, allowing me to make payments for as long as needed and discounting much of her care. (we didn’t know until afterwards). She had two surgeries…one to wire all the bone fragments together and insert tubes in her sinuses and a second to save the eye. Noel was also put on some really potent antibiotics to prevent an infection setting in her brain. She saved the eye, though she’s blind in it. Noel took it all in stride, even walking into the hospital on her own, wagging and bleeding at the same time. She recovered quickly, although she was left blind in one eye and her eye socket is rather asymmetrical. Her tear ducts don’t work quite right so we have to clean out her eye, and for a long time, her eyes didn’t blink in unison. The worst part of the whole thing, aside from the bill, was that Noel became afraid of going to the vet office.

~ Crissy Wilson Tadlock


I think our Molly’s surgeon summed it up best that torn ACLs are common because dogs basically have a “design flaw” in their back legs and because our bullies are hard players, they are more susceptible to torn ACLs.

~ Michele Last
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