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A wise man once said, “Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
Apparently, Felix doesn’t listen to awesome late 90s, spoken word pop because he has not been doing his knees any favours. 9+ years of running, jumping and treating his knees with a haphazard carelessness that can only really be attributed to the fact that he’s a dog and has no idea how his legs are built led to the hind right one having a blow out last week.
Here’s how it went down:
Fe was kicking it in the yard and he jumped down from an 8″ high garden ledge and yelped. He parked himself on his butt and was either unable or unwilling to put any weight on it. Worried that he’d broken the dog, the Daddy called me at work and we were off to the ER vet.
After a couple of drawer tests (where the vet grabs the femur with one hand and moves the tibia with the other. If the tibia can be moved forward, resembling a drawer being opened, the cruciate ligament has been torn or ruptured) and a set of X-Ray, we had our diagnosis: a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
the solution? A surgery where they screw a plate into his bone to keep the joint stable and cut out a chunk of the bone to keep the tibia from sliding around.
Is it just me or does that whole process sound painful and pricey and pretty much awful?
Oh right! That’s because it was! Our surgery estimate was $5k, followed by a few months of rehab, complementary treatments and cha-ching! cha-ching! cha-ching. We were super lucky that we have veterinary insurance and 80% of the surgery was covered, but still. Do I look like I’m made of money?! Felix, this is coming out of your allowance.
I opted to hold off and wait for a second opinion.
Holy woof! Am I ever glad that I did. We decided to travel to a specialist about an hour away. The vet we chose has done extensive studies in ligament surgeries, is proficient in more than one surgery for cruciate repair and knows like all the things when it comes to this injury. He reviewed Fe’s X-rays, repeated the Drawer test, rubbed Felix’s belly and told me he doesn’t recommend surgery for Felix.
That’s right, Fe is not going to have surgery.
Turns out, Fe is not a good candidate for TPLO surgery. He’s little, under 20 lbs and the metal plates really aren’t designed for his teensy dwarf legs. There are other surgeries and other repair methods, but the specialist feel pretty confidant that Fe doesn’t need it. You see, in small dogs, there is a ridiculously high success rate with non-surgical intervention.
We’re taking an approach called Conservative Management. For the next while, Fe will be on very limited exercise. No running, no jumping, no shenanigans, Felix. We’ll let the manage inflammation and let the leg heal, scar tissue to form and then build the strength back up by slowly increasing how long/far he walks and a combinations of physical therapy, cold laser therapy and (holy woof, am I excited for this or what?) swimming.
I’m nervous though.
Even though it sounds like the easier option, Conservative Management can be a lot of work! Physical therapy needs to be done twice daily to keep the leg moving and build it back up. There is the best canine swim centre an hour away and we’ll be ferrying him back and forth. Laser therapy appointments can be cost intensive and time consuming. We’ll be calling Fall the “season of Felix” for sure.
Good thing I think he’s worth it.