Dog ACL Surgery

Injuries to your pet's anterior cruciate ligaments, or ACL, are severely debilitating and may virtually immobilize your pet. A dog ACL injury can vary from moderate to severe and disabling, and the treatment depends heavily upon the condition of your pet's ACL and the injury itself. Reparative surgery can help to restore your pet's ACL to full functionality. However, it's important to realize that surgery of this type might not be necessary for your dog's injury, and may in fact cause more damage than it helps to relieve.

Overview of Dog ACL Surgery

Canine ACL surgery intends to reconstruct the torn or damaged ligaments in your pet's knees, allowing him to have freedom of mobility without pain. In cases of full ACL rupture, which typically occur in larger breeds of dogs or obese dogs, the ACL surgery involves a complete replacement of the ligament. This can either be accomplished with existing tissue or, more often, with a synthetic substitute that is attached to your pet's knee joint.

In some cases, your pet's size or weight may pose stress on his knee following a regular reconstructive surgery. In these situations, a procedure called osteotomy might be used to level off the end of your pet's tibia, in order to reduce this tension and prevent further injury. This procedure is a difficult and expensive one, but can be beneficial for larger dogs.

Following an ACL surgery, your dog will have to remain in post-surgical care for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. While he can live at home during this time, you will have to monitor him carefully to ensure that his sutures and wounds heal appropriately. Low-impact exercises like swimming can be helpful in improving your dog's mobility and overall health following a surgery.

Costs of Dog ACL Surgery

Canine ACL surgery typically requires at least one night in a hospital, as well as an extended recovery period. Expect to pay for the cost of hospitalization, anesthesia, surgeon time and labor, materials and any drugs and aftercare that are necessary. Most ACL surgeries require a 2 to 3 month treatment of one or more non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. As a result of these costs, the total expense necessary to cover a canine ACL surgery can be several thousand dollars.

When Dog ACL Surgery Is Not Necessary

If your pet experiences a minor ACL injury that does not involve a full rupture, surgery may be an unnecessary and potentially damaging expense. The procedure involved in ACL surgery is invasive and painful, and some ACL injuries are capable of healing themselves over time. In any case, if you suspect that your pet has suffered an ACL injury of some kind, have him examined by a veterinarian. The vet will be able to recommend a treatment program based on the specific diagnosis for your dog. In cases for which surgery isn't necessary, your veterinarian will likely recommend a period of rest and rehabilitation, in combination with pain relievers and other reparative drugs.

Address your dog's ACL injury promptly in order to alleviate his pain and help to restore his mobility and quality of life. While some ACL injuries heal themselves, others do require surgery and supervision.