Doggy CCL Knee Surgery and Recovery Time Activities

One Sunday, a few weeks ago, we noticed Breck was limping. The first thing we thought was that he had gotten stung in the foot by a drunk wasp that had been dining on the fallen apples near my back door. Nope, no sting locations. We felt if he had any broken bones, nope. No dog squeaks after pulling it out and bending. We figured we’d get him into the veterinarian that next Monday.

Our appointment was at 10 AM, and in less than 3 minutes, he was diagnosed with a cruciate ligament tear in his right, rear knee. A CCL is the same as an ACL in humans. In a nutshell, its the tendon that holds the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (calf bone) and prevents the femur from sliding forward off the tibia. Clearly, dogs are made a bit different. All the vet needed to do was to push his femur back from his tibia and note the amount of ‘shift’ it made. Too much shift for it to still be attached.

Breck in the doughnut-of-shame

She offered up three options, do nothing, or two types of surgery. The first type was called the ‘Fishing Line’ or ‘Old School’ technique. The vet would basically recreate the tendon with fishing line between the two bones. Vets have been doing this surgery for years and it has worked well for dogs Brecks size for decades. The other surgery sounded a bit more intense, as the tibia would be cut and reattached backwards, to create a ledge. (Read the link for more details on the surgeries).

After the vet briefly described the surgeries, she then asked me to sit for the prices… The fishing line surgery was about $3,500 and the tibia cut surgery, would be about $4,500. Good thing she had smelling salts handy πŸ˜‰ I clearly had to go home and discuss this with my hubby.

There was no doubt we were going to have to go with one of the surgeries. Unless we wanted him in a brace for the rest of his life… Nope!! He’s only 10 years old. We started getting educated about the surgery and reached out to my Mother-in-Law, as her dog just had CCL surgery done at 15 years old and recovered fabulously. Her vet only charged her $1,400! Say what?!? That is more than half the dough my vet wanted! Gimmie his number!

I wasn’t that happy with my current vet anyway.. I wondered if she even liked animals. She wouldn’t get on the floor and pet them, or give them treats before the business time of the appointment. Just the facts, ma’am.

Breck at work with me.

We got an appointment two hours after I called M-I-L’s vet. The first thing he did was to pay attention to Breck and make both of us feel comfortable. He examined his leg (on the floor) and quickly agreed with the other vet. His CCL was torn. Dr. H told me that Breck looked healthy, not overweight and the fishing line surgery would be a great surgery for him. He showed me models of dog knees and how the surgery/recovery process would go. We scheduled surgery for the next Monday.

Breck in his onsie… Hey, don’t knock it until you try it πŸ˜‰

His surgery went well and according to his x-rays, it was a freak accident. He had no predisposition for this injury, nor did he have any arthritis anywhere. In my opinion, his injury was from his little, evil brother, Oreo. He likes to ‘check’ other dogs and hoomans. ‘Checking’ is a hockey term for running into another player really hard. Surely, this is what happened.

Since I knew the 8 week recovery time was going to be hell on everyone in this house, I started perusing Amazon for any products I could find to make Breck as comfortable as possible, keep him safe and help keep the hoomans sane.

Yes, we do have a real cage, however, this is not the route we wanted to take. With a cone or ‘doughnut’ on, he would not be able to turn very well in the cage. We bought a large cage enclosure to keep him in while we’re home. I am also able to take him to work with me, so he’ll basically be under surveillance 24/7. Well, except for when we slept.

We soon learned cones-of-shame were Breck’s most hated thing in the world. After cone attachment, he’d pant, shake, squirm, cry and paw at it, trying to achieve removal. We tried to be patient, however he was not having it. We next tried the doughnut. He is accepting of it while I am around him, however the minute I turn my back, its off. We tied it as tight as we thought reasonable. His neck to head ratio is nonexistent, along with his silky fur, allows for easy removal of anything around his neck. The hoomans needed to be smarter… Bandages wouldn’t help. We even tried to put a pair of daddy’s boxer underwear on him… Placing his tail through the hole. (heehee…) I won’t humiliate either of them with a photo. πŸ˜‰

I finally happened upon these doggy-after-surgery onsies. I ordered a large, however I feel it was too small and now ordered an XL. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!! Now I’ve only had it on him for a day (and it’s a bit small), but so far, I am sold! He doesn’t mind having it on and he can still lick some places, just not where his stitches are. I will have to report if this works, as he has already got one stitch out. (Overnight and into the second day, the stitches have been un-licked!)

So, now that we’ve been able to keep him from bothering his stitches, keeping his brain entertained was the next step. If you believe Cesar Millan, dogs don’t have emotions, thus do not get depressed. Really? I used to respect that man….Sigh.. Anyway. Since I believe dogs do have basic emotions, including depression, I felt I needed to figure out some activities for himΒ to pass the time. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Long-lasting chew toys. I found these Himalayan Cheese blocks! I did not follow the directions on the package, but gave one to him right out of the package. He loves them and they take about a day or two to get through.
  • He likes to be brushed, so he’s gotten brushed daily. He also loves his face and nose rubbed with something fuzzy. He really likes massages, also.
  • Gentle tug of war. Very gentle!
  • Which cup is the treat under game. He’s too good, we’ve had to go to 4 cups.
  • Breck loves being talked to. I’m not sure how much he understands, however he is absorbed in every word I speak.
  • I normally don’t let him ‘defuzz’ a tennis ball, however he really likes doing it and it takes an hour or two to do the job.
  • He loves just sitting outside. Since we’ve been having some beautiful days lately, I’ve been enjoying the weather with him, sitting in the cool grass and relaxing.
  • He loves coconut oil. I put it on his front feet to lick off.
  • We had gotten him a few ‘Brain Games’. Basically, hide the treat type games. He’s too darn smart for these, though. Once he’s figured it out, it takes less than a minute to do it again.
  • I’ve read about others buying dog buggies to take their pooches on walks rides in. Well, I’m not going to blow a bunch of bucks on a specialized one, however I remembered the gardening cart I used when I had my own biz. He loves it!! I wheeled him through the neighborhood and he just sniffed the air. I take him out occasionally to write P-Mails on posts and mailboxes πŸ™‚

Wanna go for a roll??

There is very little I’ll not do for my fur kids.

Β© Ilex ~Midwestern Plant Girl

44 thoughts on “Doggy CCL Knee Surgery and Recovery Time Activities

  1. Millan is an idiot… We send hugs and POTP to Breck and we wish him a very good recovery. It seems you picked the better vet in any way and it was good to show it to another expert even when he agreed with the first vet. POTP and a big kiss from Phenny who found the “better” vet too, we get our appointments only at the female vet and the problem is (hopefully) solved…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! πŸ˜˜πŸ˜™πŸ˜˜
      Yes, Dr. H has been so helpful and genuinely cared for Breck’s all over care. I agree, a second opinion never hurt anyone. Many times it is a life saver! I’m glad Phenny found a great doctor also. 😊


  2. Poor Breck! Sympathies to you all – him for his injury and you guys for the cost!
    My old boy TJ (Mr SL’s predecessor) snapped his cruciate and had the fishing line op. Apparently, the dog regrows its ligaments over time and the joint is strong again.
    – I know this because we had problems such as MRSA – (TJ must have picked it up as a stray eating human rubbish or it entered his system with the horrific compound fracture of his tibia. It was an old, untreated wound and the bone had set like the letter T. It was no wonder the cruciate had finally snapped)
    Then he was allergic to the titanium crimp and had to have another op to remove it, but his ligaments had regrown by then.
    But, despite all this, it healed well.
    I can see from the photo of Breck’s wound, he is already well on the way. (It looks much better than TJ’s ever did!)

    A game LM loves is to put a few pieces of kibble in a large clear plastic (juice) bottle and screw the top back on. The dog can clearly see the treats but it can take a while to get them out. LM took 40 mins the first time to get the top off and learn to knock the bottle around to get the treats out. Now she gets the top off in 40 seconds, but it still takes a while to get the treats out. (LM does not eat the plastic – I don’t know about Breck).

    I love the doggy buggy!
    And Good Luck with the convalescence. πŸ™‚
    (Sorry for the “essay”!)


    • Thank you for the sympathies & the doggy activity!
      Ouch for Mr. TJ! Glad you were able to spoil him in his older days. I think you’re a saint for giving these older dogs a dignified retirement 😘
      The wound photo was taken the day after. To me, it looked like a week later! Now, it’s a bit worn and not as perty. He had licked it and got a stitch out before I got the onsey. The onesy has been a god sent! I can’t say enough about it. I’m getting the XL in the mail today.
      He’s just starting to toe touch a bit now. A bit early, but he’s always the over achiever πŸ˜‰
      He loves the buggy! I’ll be bringing it camping this weekend, so he can still enjoy a ‘walk’ πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “There is very little I’ll not do for my fur kids” – Shouldn’t that be “There is NOTHING I’ll not do for my fur kids”? Well, they deserve it, our four-legged companions, don’t they? And they return it threefold. But I must warn you, from my experience with a sick cat that needed a lot of attention during recovery: you’ll end up with a thoroughly spoiled animal! πŸ˜€
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for to Breck to heal quickly, and please give him a scratch behind his ears from me,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We just had our then 11 month old Pitbull’s knee replaced, and while I have friends that have paid nearly $4000 for the older version, and been quoted up to $9000 for the replacement/implant, the specialist nearest us charges only $2400. The recovery is 8 weeks, too, though not quite as stringent as a tendon. Stillβ€”she’s a baby, and not particularly excited about being on leash to go outside and not allowed her Pitbull β€œzoomies.” Unfortunately, she was accidentally burned by the heating pad during surgery, so we’ve had two huge events at once and the caregiving is hellish. The burns get showered twice a day, I learned to remove dead tissue, etc. But, she is healing really well and our vet has been fantastic both about taking responsibility for the accident and being in constant contact since he is 2 hours away from us. I hope your sweetly Breck heals fast and doesn’t get too stir crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! You’ve got a handful over there! I couldn’t imagine having to keep a puppy calm 🀀 Exactly, I can’t imagine what going on in my dog’s brain… Why can’t I run? Why do I have clothes on? πŸ˜‚πŸ€£
      Surgery pricing is crazy! I can’t believe how much range there is. I’m so glad I was able to find a competent doctor with great rates.
      I wish you and your fur baby the best and a fast recovery. Hope they are both doing zoomies soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I bet you are glad that you checked with M-I-L about the price of her dog’s surgery. What a difference in the costs. I’m so glad that Breck is doing very well In the healing process. And, gee you have been quite the mom to keep his attention diverted from his surgical incision. I think the garden cart is a brilliant idea. Good for him that he likes going for rides. The pic is so cute of him sitting in the cart.


  6. Very moving post gal, apart from the initial vet issues, I m glad that Breck is much better now and that he is enjoying the activities you are planning… it sure looks tough for you too, but your dedication is amazing…


  7. Izzy needs the surgery, but it’s on hold until after Christmas, as she is getting it done up here in Wisconsin at the vet school, because the quotes my brother and sister-in-law got out by them in Naperville were exorbitant.

    Hope the recovery is continuing to go well!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Kickin’ Wing is Now Kickin’ Ass! | Midwestern Plants

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