Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Limping Dog Or A Death Sentence?

This is Pogo.

He was found by my friend Cindy. Cindy was at the county humane shelter clipping matted dogs to try to make them more presentable to potential adopters when Pogo arrived. He was being surrendered by his family because his knee required surgery.

Now I am going to try very hard to not be harsh and judgmental but I have a very hard time thinking that someone would surrender their dog for this. Animals that are brought to the shelter with a problem are most often immediately euthanized. Why? because there are so many perfect pets up for adoption that are never adopted. At a shelter too many requires action to make more space. The broken pets go first.

Pogo was incredibly lucky to have been brought in when Cindy was there. 

Pogo came home with Cindy that day. He came to see me the next.

Sure enough he had a ruptured cruciate ligament. 

This is the same as an anterior cruciate ligament which is one of the more common human sports injuries seen. The cruciate ligaments hold the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (lower leg bone). They live right behind the knee cap. They act as restraining devices so the the bones remain in alignment, but they also allow the knee to bend. They are monumental in providing stability to the knee. When one or both rupture the pet will be lame due to the inability to have a firm landing of the foot due to the excessive motion in the knee joint. The leg will only regain stability with surgery or a brace. 

I see a lot of dogs with ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments (RCCL). BIG DISCLAIMER time: I am NOT a boarded surgeon! If this happened to us we would go to a boarded surgeon and they would discuss our surgical options to fix this. We would not go to our general practitioner and ask them to do it. BUT, a boarded surgeon is more expensive than I am, and unfortunately for many people they cannot afford the expert. When my own dog needed his cruciate repaired he went to a boarded surgeon. When the other vets at my own practice needed their dogs knees fixed they also went to a surgeon. Surgeons are experts, I always recommend clients go to them first and then come back to me only if they cannot or chose not to use a surgeon.

Due to Pogo's recent indigence status, he needed a very affordable option to treat his knee injury.

Pogo was scheduled for surgery with me the next week.

A note on braces. Everyone thinks that they are cheaper, you know avoid the anesthesia and surgery and you automatically think "it's got to be cheaper." In reality it is about $1,000 for a good one, and just like for us they are supposed to be specially fitted to each individual. A brace is usually only recommended when surgery is not an option for a patient. The long term result of a corrective orthopedic surgery is far better than trying to manage a brace forever. (For the record I also feel this way about a cast on a broken bone).

Four days later he began to cough. Diagnosis, kennel cough, likely from being at the shelter. Postpone surgery one week. Treatment plan: lots of rest, monitor for any change in behavior (like lethargy, decreased hunger, or any snottiness from eyes, nose, or worsening of cough, and/or productive coughing). 

One week later his cough worsened. He returned for x-rays.

Diagnosis pneumonia. Postpone surgery another week, change to a stronger antibiotic, fluid therapy. Watch very very closely. If he worsened at all he was to be admitted for i.v. fluids, i.v. antibiotics, and hospitalization.

One week later he was brought in for his surgery. Pre-surgical exam revealed a low red blood cell count, but clinically he was acting normally and feeling much better. Plan: postpone surgery again for another week to give his body more time to recover from his illness.

Pogo was feeling so much better that he refused to sit still for a picture.
Pogo returned yesterday. He was a bright, happy, jumpy, stubborn, opinionated, bossy, perfectly normal Jack Russell. He also had a normal red blood cell count.

He had his knee fixed using a technique that has been around and in use by veterinarians for many years, a Securos extra-capsular lateral fabella technique. There is a very good video of this here from Southpaws Specialty Veterinary Hospital.

Pogo was also neutered.

He is now officially looking for a home!

We wish him a speedy recovery and a happy healthy life in a home to call his own.

If you are interested in him please contact; Black Dogs & Company Rescue

If you have any questions or comments you can find me @Pawbly, or Pawbly.com, or at the clinic Jarrettsville Vet

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, the same demands, that make shelters destroy the weak and the lame, also works for families in a weak economy. So many of us are living from paycheck to paycheck that people have to decide whether to get glasses, for their child, or fix the dog's leg. It breaks my heart to see so many families and their pets have to deal with such terrible decisions. Even vets have to make similar decisions. Your simple surgery, for Pogo, turned into a real money drain. At each step you had to make a decision to keep working with him or give up. Like you, I find myself reserving judgment, on situations such as this one, as there is no way of knowing the family's circumstances. In one way I hope it was a terribly painful decision to make, but on the other hand, I wouldn't wish anyone to be so financially strapped that they would have to make such a decision. There are no winners here. All we can do is try to help each other as much as we can and hope better times will be here soon.