And It’s Over, Faster Than You Can Say ACL

Last week I wrote about Nola’s promising agility career. We were scheduled to go to our third class on Saturday. But, after noticing a slight limp this week, and a vet visit, Nola’s agility days are over.

I’m not really sure what happened. I got back from Miami on Saturday of last week and Sunday we took Nola for a swim at the river. That afternoon I started noticing a slight limp on her back right leg. I asked Jim if he had seen anything unusual while I was gone. He said he noticed she was a bit tense with it when he gave her a bath. Over the next few days I watched, when we walked, when she ran, and I couldn’t say for sure she was limping. But something just didn’t look right. By Wednesday, I decided I would make an appointment with out vet. What was the harm? If it was nothing then we would be out $40. That’s chump change when it comes to the health and well being of my baby.

Well, it wasn’t nothing. It turns out Nola has a slight tear in her anterior cruciate ligament, more commonly known as an ACL. For those of you who lucky enough to not know anything about the ACL, this ligament, which also is called the cranial cruciate ligament in animals, connects the back of the femur (the bone above the knee) with the front of the tibia (the bone below the knee). The ACL is responsible for keeping the tibia in place beneath the femur and stabilizing the knee joint. The vet did a couple tests, including the drawer test and the tibial compression test. (Read more about the injury from Pet WebMD) He knew right away she had at least a tear. He thinks if it was completely ruptured she would be showing a lot more signs of distress, like completely lifting the leg.

What does this mean? Well, short term it means she needs lots of rest. No walks. No swims. No jumping. Just laying down and resting, which is what we did all weekend (see my post on Facebook). She has started on some anti-inflammatory medicine and we have to go back in a week to see if there is any more damage that the swelling hid initially. Long term, it means probably no more agility, a high risk ACL rupture, and a higher risk of injuring it again.

It also means our Fourth of July lake plans are cancelled and it will mean a very hyper dog if we can’t find something to stimulate her mentally to replace the physical activity. What’s even more sad is that we were in the works to foster another pup, Angus, at the end of this week, but the vet recommended we do not introduce another dog into the house until Nola is fully healed. Since it could be anywhere from 2-4 weeks (or longer depending on what we find out next week), it looks as though fostering will be postponed indefinitely.

After lots of tears, and researching everything I can about ACL injuries and treatments for dogs, I’ve come to accept the situation for what it is. We will rest her for the next couple weeks in hopes that the injury heals on it’s own and doesn’t get worse. I have seen how the recovery from surgery can be long and painful (my friend’s dog Payson is just finally able to walk after his PTLO surgery months ago) and I don’t want that for my Muffin. Even though it is going to be tough trying to make an active dog into a couch potato, we will do whatever we can. We will use toys, bones, bully sticks, and maybe some low impact training to keep her as immobile as possible, and just hope and cross our fingers it will heal back up on its own!

11 thoughts on “And It’s Over, Faster Than You Can Say ACL

  1. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear that! Poor Nola! A friend of ours went through that with their Rottweiler last year, no fun at all! The good news is that Luke made a full recovery, so hopefully the same will be true for Nola-girl. We’ll be thinking of you, sending puppy kisses from Oscar & Cooper!

  2. Oh no!!! Poor Nola (and you)! Hopefully she will heal and no surgery will be necessary but I guess the good news is that should it come to that, they CAN fix her. I have had a couple friends have that happen (one had just healed when the other ACL tore!) and it is a long recovery but all dogs are good as new now. In the meantime, while you are doing the impossible of keeping a dog low key, this helped with Melviin. You put treats in it and they push it around (walking pace)… . We’ll be looking for updates!!! Hang in there!

  3. Poor Nola! These kinds of injuries are the worst. I hope she heals quickly & is able to get back to normal soon.

  4. Poor Nola and poor you!!!! I guess we should all look on the bright side and be thankful that you noticed Nola’s condition ASAP before more serious damage occurred. She’s so lucky to have you…. think of all of the people that wouldn’t have even noticed (I hear about them all of the time from my vet). And since I know all too well what it’s like to live with an under exercised dog (had to go through it with Mazzie a few times), I so feel for you guys re how this change in routine has and will continue to impact all of you over the next few weeks. Hang in there!!!!

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