Posted by Mary
This week has been kind of hard. My senior dog Josie had to have surgery to repair her knee. For the past few months she has been limping and moving slowly because both of her back legs have issues with its cruciate ligaments. These ligaments are what stabilizes a dog’s knee and are similar to a human’s ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which is also a critical part of our knees.
It all began last week when Josie was playing at daycare and she jumped on the couch and missed. This triggered a tear in her cruciate ligament and she was unable to walk on her left rear leg. Her human dad Craig brought her to the vet right away where it was determined she had torn her cruciate ligament. There were several options to solve the problem but after much discussion the veterinarian thought surgery was the best option.
To keep her comfortable, she was given pain killers to ease the pain the days before her surgery. Three days later, I dropped her off for the procedure… her big eyes looking very sad when the veterinary technician took her away. A few hours later the surgeon called me and said It went without a hitch and she did very well. Her dad and I went to pick her up that evening. She looked so pathetic as she hobbled to greet us with three legs. Her eyes were so glazed. She definitely was medicated and out of it. I doubt she remembers anything of that day.
Her vet gave us instructions and we were a little floored when she told us Josie must have enforced rest for eight weeks. How will we keep Josie from wanting to run around? The surgeon said if she moved around too much, it could affect the surgery and the stabilization of the knee.The doctor also advised us to put Josie in a room with no furniture that she could jump on, so we put her in our home study and removed everything but the desk. We created a little bed for her on the floor, gave her a bowl of water and food and put her to bed.
The next morning I could hear whimpering. Josie was finally waking up and didn’t like to be alone in the room. She’s always wherever we are. I got up out of bed and opened the door and Josie came hobbling out as fast as she could. It was clear she wanted to run around but her leg still hurt. I carried her outside to do her business and then took her back to her room and sat on the floor with her.
She finally went back to sleep but an hour later she woke up shaking and panting. I knew this was because she was in pain. Shaking and panting can be a sign a dog is in pain. The vet had prescribed her Deramaxx and Tramadol for pain, but she hated the taste of both of them and refused to take it, spitting it up all over her comforter. I knew I had to find a different way to give her medicine. I found a syringe in my bathroom, crushed up the pills, mixed it with water and filled the syringe. She hated it but it worked. She now has to go through this torture twice a day. She always looks like, “Mom, why are you doing this to me?”
She will be like this for the next eight weeks… with her tapering off the pain medication hopefully by next week. During her recovery we are also supposed to do physical therapy. The surgeon gave us a week-by-week list of things we are supposed to do. Starting next week, we have to start range of motion exercises, where we will have her lie on her good side and grip her foot with one hand and slowly and gently push her foot all the way up. Then we pull the foot and push the leg all the way down. We’re supposed to do this five times in one session daily. I admit, I am very worried about this… because the minute Josie resists I may give up. I have no tolerance for seeing my pup in pain. I wish I could hire a doggie physical therapist; they do exist, but since the surgery itself was $1650 it’s not in my budget at this point.
I hope I can toughen up. Physical therapy is critical for the successful recovery of cruciate ligament surgery. I am looking at this as yet another adventure in pet parenthood. I have had animals who have had cancer, hyperthyroidism, cystitis, kidney disease and aggression issues… this is just another health dilemma to add to my pet parenting skill set. I’ll let you know how it all goes in future posts. Here’s to being Whisker Fabulous no matter what health issues your furry family members have.