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Dog Surgery
updated: Dec 16, 2013, 11:49 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Our dog may have to undergo knee ligament surgery. Have any of you dog-lovers dealt with this? If so, has the surgery proved effective, as in a permanent fix? And if your dog has had this procedure, could you recommend a skilled surgeon whose price is in the non-nosebleed inducing range? Thanks in advance.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 477774 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 12:08 PM

Knee ligament? That's a little vague, and no two cases are the same. Surgical outcome depends on too many variables. Best bet is to get two opinions from Board-certified veterinary surgeons. DON'T take the word of just a general practitioner. Their knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep…useful for general overview care, but not something as specialized as orthopedic surgery.


 COMMENT 477775 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 12:12 PM

Dr Shields at Advanced Veterinary Specialists is an excellent surgeon (she removed a tumor from my dog's knee) but they are pricy! Best of luck to you guys!


 COMMENT 477786P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 12:34 PM

If you're talking about ACL, my 13 year old dog has partial tear of his ACL. We go all the way to Carpinteria to see Dr Otto who is worth the drive. He offered 3 options to address this...1) surgery which is difficult with a long rehab particularly for older dogs 2) injections into his ACL which would be once a week for a month and then stretch out or 3) take Rimadyl and good quality glucosamine chondroitin. We have opted for #3 and he's doing okay.


 COMMENT 477789 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 12:36 PM

My dog has a bionic knee... the Dr down at VMSG - Ventura Medical Surgery Group - does hundreds of these a month. Not cheap- but dog is 9 and had surgery when she was 1 and we've never had any issues. On a side note, I would definitely NOT recomment Advanced -- they are horrible mad scientists looking to take your money!


 COMMENT 477795 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 12:46 PM

Our 10 yr old Lab has had both knees operated. First when she was about 5 and the second a year later. Full rupture of cranial cruciate ligament. Get ready for a very long and meticulous recovery, but rewards are in the end. Your dog will be fine. We had our Lab operated in Ventura at VMSG ( Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group) and the operation we chose was TPLO (tibial plateau leveling Osteotomy). Good luck -


 COMMENT 477801 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 01:13 PM

I've been through 4 TPLO surgeries on my dogs for ACL ruptures, all done at VMSG (highly recommended). You are looking at about $5K for this procedure. It has something like a 98% success rate. Following post-op instructions (3 months of crate/pen rest, with short walks/exercises beginning after a month) is a major key to a thorough recovery.

If the tear is PARTIAL, it is possible to try rehab instead, but it can be a time-consuming process. There is a company called Orthopets (look online) that creates a personalized brace for your dog for this kind of injury. I have known some people whose dogs with this injury were able to recover and eventually not use the brace.

This is a significant injury and frankly, any treatment option will require a good amount of time and $$ on your part. While some surgeons will cost less than others, also investigate how many times they have done this procedure before and what their facilities are like.


 COMMENT 477810 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 01:33 PM

It wouldn't be Santa Barbara if there wasn't someone spending $5k on a dog, while millions go cold and hungry. Welcome to the new Gilded Age.


 COMMENT 477825 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:11 PM

208, I'm far from wealthy but yes, I took on the responsibility of dog ownership knowing that I might have to pay for significant medical costs at some point, and planned accordingly. You might call that the Gilded Age, I call it responsible pet ownership. As I mentioned, there are other, more cost-effective options available. I also support a breed rescue that takes in dogs with significant medical issues like this because their owners did NOT anticipate these kinds of costs and dumped the dog when it became "too expensive." If it were your ACL that was torn I doubt you would not do surgery because millions are going cold and hungry. To imply it is a frivolous expense to actually provide appropriate medical care for your pet is truly sad.


 COMMENT 477829P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:22 PM

We live in Carpinteria and Dr. Otto has been taking care of our dog for 15 years. When she needed this surgery he recommended several specialists. When asked which one he would use for his dog he said Dr. Bruecker in Ventura at VMSG ( Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group). That was 3 /2 years ago and it worked out fine. Even though our dog was 12 at the time, we have had an additional 3 1/2 years with her. We feel blessed every day that she is still with us and is in good shape for a 15-year old dog.


 COMMENT 477837 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:35 PM

I checked all over when my dog needed surgery, from Atascadero to the San Gabriel Valley. We waited a long time to see if rest would help him out. When it didn't we went with Dr. Robinson in Atascadero who does the TTA procedure. At the time it was about $2500 but you have to be willing to drive up there for the procedure and the checkups, at least 4 trips and more if there are complications.

I liked the TTA because they use a Titanium implant. The basic implant in TPLO is stainless steel and one foster dog I had locally developed an infection on the steel and it had to be removed after the leg had healed with 6 more weeks recovery time.

My dog has TTA implants on both knees and is back to 75% of his normal activity and movement. Can sprint and run around without limping afterward. It has changed his gait, though.


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:38 PM

Maybe when you tear your ACL, 810, your kids can save themselves some money to give to the poor by dumping you on the roadside somewhere.


 COMMENT 477848 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:48 PM

I agree with 825 and Auntie. The poor have just as much value as any dog, and should be treated as such.


 COMMENT 477854 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 02:56 PM

OP, here. It looks like my wife and I are in for a lot of research. Thanks, all. And, oh, yeah. Re: 810. It wouldn't be Santa Barbara if there wasn't someone willing to don the intellectual guise of Gabby Hayes and get awl golldurned uppity about these folks today and them th'ar lovin' th'ar pets when there are still wars, 'n' famines 'n' stuff in our world.


 COMMENT 477858 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 03:03 PM

Dr. Ken Bruecker at VMSG in Ventura is worth the money. On the day our dog had his knee surgery with Dr. Bruecker, we met an owner that brought her dog in after a botched TPLO surgery (some vet in L.A.). It's expensive, about 5K per knee The recovery time is long & hellish (for both the owner & dog), but well worth it. Our dog had to have both knees done (May & Oct.) & I'd say his gait & mobility is 100%. Pretty impressive for a 9yr old 113lb Boxer.


 COMMENT 477875 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 04:12 PM

Some vets you talk to say that knees are like people's backs, no matter what you do, 1 yr later the outcomes are about the same. One vet said the whole point of the healing process is waiting for bone to form in the knee joint to stabilize the knee (also known as arthritis). So if your dog can tolerate a long period of inactivity then that will lead to a stable knee. We had a dog at our shelter that hurt her knee, but since we couldn't find a foster for the rehab, we didn't do the surgery. After 6 mos of limited activity, she is back to walking pretty well with no limp.

In this school of thought, the main point of doing the surgery is to force your dog to be inactive for 6 mos so that the bone can form. The surgery makes you feel like you have helped them and are on the way to recovery. The psychological effects seem to help the owner at least. And if the surgery doesn't help the vets can also blame the owner for not being strict on the rehab.


 COMMENT 477877 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 04:35 PM

Less than half a century ago if a human being tore their ACL they'd get some pain meds and a cane. A dog would get the Ol Yeller behind-the-barn treatment.

You enlightened SB dog owners may consider a $5k surgery as your "responsibility" but the rest of us accept that life for man and best is neither fair nor kind.


 COMMENT 477888P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 05:18 PM

To each ther own, dont' ever forget it.


 COMMENT 477890P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-16 05:20 PM

By the way, i thought Dr Russell Kalis did a fine job on our Border Collie. Yes we spent some money, so what. Thats how it rolls.


 GRAY2136 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 07:07 AM

Dr. Dan at White's Hospital here in town advised us to go to Ventura when our dog tore her meniscus since they are the specialists but their price was $4500. He did it great himself for $1500 (I think). I would not hesitate to use him if we had to do it again. Good luck.


 COMMENT 477941 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 07:11 AM

People love their animals like they are members of their families and responsible pet owners are prepared for spending money on them if they need it. It's nothing about being gilded, it's about having a different priority than you do. I have 2 dogs and children and work hard to support my household so that if any one of them need medical care it is provided for. That's my job. What do you do 810 and 887 (same person I hope)? Do you feed the homeless and take them home with you? Probably not, I've learned that most people that complain don't do much to help the solution, they are also part of the problem. I spent a few hours this weekend with my kids picking fruit for Backyard Bounty and the Foodbank, contributing to SB folks in need because I want to help but don't have a bunch of money to donate. What do you do to help?


 COMMENT 477942 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 07:21 AM

before you try surgery, try Dr. Fred Eckhart: (714) 336-7272. He does house calls and he does wonders for joint damage!


 COMMENT 478007 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 10:49 AM

Dr. Fred uses several different types of lasers to heal the affected joint. But if it is really a torn ACL I don't think lasers will help. Lasers are usually beneficial for arthritic joints.


 SPARKEY agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 11:36 AM

My 8yr old pit mix had a torn ACL. I watched her run on 3 legs just fine and skipped the surgery. She had completely healed it on her own in a year.


 COMMENT 478154P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 04:44 PM



 COMMENT 478159 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 05:17 PM

We used Dr. Eric Wright - he is a superb surgeon, a lot less expensive, but you have to be willing and able to take the dog home right after surgery. Our guy will be good, but kudos to Hydropaws and Karen and the others for doing the PT he needs to get up and go much sooner.


 COMMENT 478166 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-17 06:12 PM

Dr Bruecker at VMSG did our 2 yr old golden's tplo, wonderful job. we were careful about recovery. At 5 , when she tore the other knee, we opted to skip surgery and just do the recovery. Seemed to work equally well. Either way, quite an investment of time and love.


 SMILODON agree helpful negative off topic

2013-12-18 12:28 PM

My five year old Samoyed husky had a torn ACL and my vet brought in a circuit-riding specialist surgeon. With a stiff cast on his leg for about 8 weeks, he was fine afterwards, back to all prior activity levels. It was relatively cheap, but up in the Bay Area. He was a little goofy walking around with the cast, but his buddies didn't even tease him about it, just sort of slowed down the games to accomodate his mobility issues. Dogs are so accepting.


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