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Hi Everyone!

My dog Ollie, who recently turned 5, has an ongoing limping issue with his back right leg.

He began limping several months ago. I took him to the vet, who felt his leg and suspected a ligament tear of some sort. She sort of jumped on the surgery suggestion right off the bat, but I asked about measures we could take before going that route; she said to put him on restricted movement for a few weeks, and if he was still limping after that, we'd go to x-rays and possible surgery.

Ollie did indeed seem better after a few weeks and so I figured the problem was over. But I noticed that since then, intermittently he will lapse into a limp on that leg; the limp is always associated with any really wild running around, start-and-stop action, and his specialty, the complete 360 degree glad-to-seeya-wanna-play?! spin.

So I took him back to the vet today, because it just seems like that limp won't go away permanently. He'll rest for a bit, get better, then do something very active (jumping, running), and it comes back. It's a cycle of limping/not limping.

The vet said she suspects that the ligament tear is just not healing and surgery will be necessary. The x-rays would come first (although I'm a bit confused because apparently x-rays don't show the ligament?), then the surgery would follow. The pamphlet she gave me explaining the surgery says it's called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. And she said that if we don't go with surgery then arthritis will be an issue for Ollie.

I'm wondering if I should give the really strict movement restriction a chance, to see if that works to heal his injury. I have been too lax with that, admittedly....when he isn't limping anymore, I've let him do what he wants...figuring 'this time' it's healed. But then again I don't want him to have arthritis problems because I didn't get him surgery....

The vet didn't mention trying to really restrict activity as an option this time...but then again, I didn't ask about it.

I'm thinking I should get a second opinion about this, maybe from a doctor who specializes in these injuries? So if we do have to go with the surgery, I can do so with confidence that it's the best way to go for my Ollie.

For the record, Ollie has maintained his weight and his HUGE appetite and his cheery friendly demeanor throughout this whole thing. I guess he is a stoical sort; he must be in some sort of pain but shows no sign of it. In fact that's what makes it so difficult to keep him 'down'; it's like he doesn't know he's injured, in a way. He just wants to tear around and party as usual. Maybe I've taken that as a sign that the injury isn't so bad....which I'm sure is a mistake on my part. Digs aren't big babies about pain like we humans tend to be!

Anyway, thanks for reading this and any and all feedback would be most appreciated.

Just want The Olinator to be ok!
 

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Poor Ollie, there are different schools of thoughts with ligament injury, rest or surgery. People on the board have had success with both.

I opted for surgery with my male, but he was 1 year old and the Vet was over 80% certain that it was more than a little tear. Well it was a full rupture and 3 meniscus were torn out also. I didn't know to see an Ortho Vet, but the surgery went well. The recovery time was 8 weeks on leash and then slowly increase the activity.

I believe that Chris Wild (on the board) did the rest and the times for recovery were just about the same.

Val
 

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Take Ollie to an orthopedic surgeon, do not take a vets word for any type of limping issue.

I have spent seven months listening to my vet tell me that Chara had pano and that I was over reacting to her on again, off again limping. I took her to see an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed her with "Gracilis Muscle Contracture", pano my butt!!

Most vets are not knowledgeable enough to diagnose any type of muscle or tissue injury. Take the next step and get him to someone who knows what they are dealing with. I wish I had listened to my heart instead of my vet.
 

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you really need a conclusive diagnosis as well. Kali was presenting as if she had a ligament tear, and it turned out to be a severe muscle pull. and just for that we had almost 2 months of low activity (no off leash running, no jumping) and daily massage/stretch/ice. she finally got the ok for running on monday.
you definitely want to take your dog to a specialist, get a firm diagnosis and get a plan on the ground. these things can heal, but they take a while and it goes quicker if you know what you are dealing with.
 

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The xrays will show any fluid build up, if the bones are out of allignment due to the ligament tear, and any arthritis. We opted for xrays and rest for Gracie. She had a positive "drawer test" - meaning it was torn. We did Rimadyl for 15 days and 3-4 weeks of no jumping, running, stairs, mostly leash walking to try to avoid chasing after birds, squirrels, groundhogs in our back yard. We followed that up with a trip to the orthopedist who felt she was doing fine. We've resumed all activity and I only see a very slight limp - it is there or do I imagine it? - on rare occasion.

I think the first thing you should do is get a second opinion from a board certified orthopedist. Vets are great but are kind of like human doctors - can't know it all.

If Ollie needs surgery there are options, including arthiscopic (or however it's spelled). Explore all the options. Good luck!!!!
 

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Here are two threads recently that discussed your issue

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=702544#Post702544

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=651086#Post651086

Penny's vet did not feel like surgery was necessary. He said that since she was still using the leg, combined with what he could feel in the 'drawer test', that she either pulled or partially tore the ligament- it wasn't a total rip which is what calls for surgery.

His treatment plan was two weeks of deramaxx anti inflammatory medication, weekly adequan injections for four weeks into the hurt leg and 6 more weeks (it had already been 5) of strict rest. He said that most cases that present like hers and follow the above plan improve without surgery.

She is now using the leg with no problems!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you so much for your replies. This site is such a great resource and over the years since Ollie was a pup, I've learned so much reading the various boards here.

Well, I really liked this second vet we took Ollie to....made an appointment and got him in yesterday....

The vet tried to do the drawer pull test but Ollie resisted (he tensed up....I would have too!....and so the area was too tight to perform the test adequately).

So, he was sedated....the poor dog looked like a drooling drunkard!...he was definitely relaxed enough and she performed the test. She had me get down on the floor with her so I could see what was going on.

There was no drawer pull. She really tried and could find none.

So we are doing a regime of Deramaxx and glucosamine supplements and ice packs and restricted movement, and moving the leg around (kind of like he's on an invisible bicycle), and we'll see if this works.

I like this conservative approach. The other vet seemed so keen on surgery and I will totally do that, if need be in the future....but for now we'll try this method and see if he does better this way.

It's great to read these positive experiences from you all here, both with surgery and with other methods. Makes me feel like the dog can be ok with proper treatment, no matter what that entails.

What I can't figure out is how Ollie knew he was going to the vet, even though he'd never been there before, even before we went in there! He started his 'vet whine' as we pulled into the driveway. My husband suggested that the dog knows how to read 'Veterinary' but methinks it's a tad more likely to be a canine smell thing!

Again, thank you so much for your feedback. This is an awesome site!
 

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WOO HOO
A negative drawer **probably** means only a strain/sprain. Remember....restrict, restrict, restrict!!! When you're getting those big, brown soulful eyes looking up at you....WALK AWAY. Don't give in. NO stairs, no jumping, no jumping into the car, no sudden turns when running to catch a ball, bird, lightning bug LOL It's harder on YOU than it will be on Ollie. It was hard on me because I take Gracie everywhere with me. I rested her for 3 weeks and it made a HUGE difference. Glad to hear the good news!!!!!

Oh PS: I agree that Ollie can read
 

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Any time there are ligament issues, I would evaluate and see if you see any signs of thyroid problems. Very often they occur at the same time, and some thing the ligament problems are enhanced by problems with the thryoid.
 

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This is good news. Complete rest, watch and see is always a nice approach. Was the second vet another general vet or a specialist? If rest doesn't completely resolve things (and the second opinion was with a general vet), I would certainly head to a specialist before I made any major decisions.

For what it's worth, I would never let a general vet do a TPLO. It's a major surgery and it has to be done right since that joint will endure a lot of stress the rest of the dog's life. (Which it can, by the way. Zamboni had TPLOs done on both of her knees in 2001, and she's still bouncing around on them fine. But it has to be done right. And I've heard some horror stories of results when a general vet tries to do the procedure. Maybe some regular vets can. But I wouldn't risk it.)

This website might be useful to you: http://www.acvs.org/
 

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Glad to hear that the second vet feels recovery can be accomplished with rest and medications!

My first GSD tore a cruciate when he was over 9 years old, and we did the rest/medication route. He was never completely sound after that but he was at the point where he pretty much liked to lay around the house anyhow.

Trick, who is now 12, was chasing the pup last week and did a turn and came up completely lame on one back leg. She wouldn't put any weight on it at all. She'd had some problems with this leg previously and I think she's strained the cruciate and (like a dummy) I didn't restrict her enough. Now she's not allowed to run with the youngster (why is it that old dogs still think they can keep up with young dogs?). At her age I wouldn't opt for surgery even if she tore it completely.

I hope that Ollie recovers completely! Stay strong, don't let him talk you into letting him race around! That's one of my problems .. Trick is really upset if I take the pup out to throw a ball or stick for her, and I gave in and let her run with the pup one too many times. Now I just let her moan and bark .. *L* .. and she gets separate walks.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Originally Posted By: JenM66WOO HOO
A negative drawer **probably** means only a strain/sprain. Remember....restrict, restrict, restrict!!! When you're getting those big, brown soulful eyes looking up at you....WALK AWAY. Don't give in. NO stairs, no jumping, no jumping into the car, no sudden turns when running to catch a ball, bird, lightning bug LOL It's harder on YOU than it will be on Ollie. It was hard on me because I take Gracie everywhere with me. I rested her for 3 weeks and it made a HUGE difference. Glad to hear the good news!!!!!

Oh PS: I agree that Ollie can read
Hmmm, we need to put the dog's amazing reading ability to good use and make some money from it! Maybe get on that stupid pet tricks show?

Yeah that restriction thing is not a piece of cake...

Especially when he grabs his stuffed hedgehog and looks at us with that 'let's PLAY!!!' expression. We'll do a bit of gentle tug-o-war or let him catch it (at eye level so he doesn't jump up) but alas, running around the couch is off the table for right now....

I'm so glad your Gracie is better!

And thanks again for the advice.
 

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Originally Posted By: LisaTAny time there are ligament issues, I would evaluate and see if you see any signs of thyroid problems. Very often they occur at the same time, and some thing the ligament problems are enhanced by problems with the thryoid.
That's interesting....

He is due for his heartworm test/checkup anyway, so maybe I will have them test his thyroid....just to be sure, and it's a good thing to check for many reasons.

Thanks for the tip.....I learn a lot here that even the vet doesn't mention!
 

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Originally Posted By: Darcy5Especially when he grabs his stuffed hedgehog and looks at us with that 'let's PLAY!!!' expression.
Gracie has a hedgie too that she LOVES! It's probably her 4th one. When she breaks the grunter in it, she has gotten better and takes weeks now, rather than a day, she carries it around the house crying that it doesn't make noise.

I would throw her ball at eye level so she wouldn't jump too or she'd be on the couch and I'd be on the floor - throw it to her that way. She was able to play and get some energy out.
 

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Originally Posted By: 3K9MomThis is good news. Complete rest, watch and see is always a nice approach. Was the second vet another general vet or a specialist? If rest doesn't completely resolve things (and the second opinion was with a general vet), I would certainly head to a specialist before I made any major decisions.

For what it's worth, I would never let a general vet do a TPLO. It's a major surgery and it has to be done right since that joint will endure a lot of stress the rest of the dog's life. (Which it can, by the way. Zamboni had TPLOs done on both of her knees in 2001, and she's still bouncing around on them fine. But it has to be done right. And I've heard some horror stories of results when a general vet tries to do the procedure. Maybe some regular vets can. But I wouldn't risk it.)

This website might be useful to you: http://www.acvs.org/
Sorry, I should have mentioned in my first reply....

This second vet was actually a general vet. My thought was to get a second sorta 'baseline' opinion (and I've been considering going to another general vet anyway for Ollie's care, for various reasons....figured this would be as good an introduction as any), then go from there.

I'm definitely going to take him to a specialist if this doesn't clear up given the restriction method.

A friend's friend does agility and one of her dogs has had surgery for this...I think it was the TPLO....and recommended someone. He's a specialist who is actually a ways from where I live but I'm willing to travel to get good care.

Thanks for the advice and the website link....it's a great resource and I will definitely use it if ever Ollie needs surgery.

He'll take Zamboni's lead and get a surgeon who knows what he/she is doing!
 

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Originally Posted By: IliamnasQuestGlad to hear that the second vet feels recovery can be accomplished with rest and medications!

My first GSD tore a cruciate when he was over 9 years old, and we did the rest/medication route. He was never completely sound after that but he was at the point where he pretty much liked to lay around the house anyhow.

Trick, who is now 12, was chasing the pup last week and did a turn and came up completely lame on one back leg. She wouldn't put any weight on it at all. She'd had some problems with this leg previously and I think she's strained the cruciate and (like a dummy) I didn't restrict her enough. Now she's not allowed to run with the youngster (why is it that old dogs still think they can keep up with young dogs?). At her age I wouldn't opt for surgery even if she tore it completely.

I hope that Ollie recovers completely! Stay strong, don't let him talk you into letting him race around! That's one of my problems .. Trick is really upset if I take the pup out to throw a ball or stick for her, and I gave in and let her run with the pup one too many times. Now I just let her moan and bark .. *L* .. and she gets separate walks.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
But of course Trick IS still a young pup, it's just her body doesn't always remember!

(I can relate...)

Dogs have that playful nature that's so endearing and they love to play so much that it's tough to keep them from that, even when we know it's best for them.

But we must stay strong...along with the mantra of "restrict, restrict, restrict" will be "resist, resist, resist!".

I hope Trick feels better soon.
 
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