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Cruciate Ligament Injury Revisited - FBECS

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First, I have to say though I have never been a hugely active member of this board, work, Covid, and a host of other issues have prevented me from being as active on the board over the last 6 months as I used to be.  However, I come back hoping to get the input from the members.  My 3 1/2 year old English Cocker Sadie suffered a cruciate ligament injury.  Let me describe the situation.  In late July, I was taking Sadie for a walk off leash with my daughter.  Now, July was really quite hot here in MA.  I had not been exercising Sadie as much as usual as a result...partly because I am built like a penguin and though I do great in January, I am not so motivated in July on 90 degree humid days.  Sadie, like many of her breed, is a little dynamo with a great off button in the house, but is all get up an go in the woods.  Anyways, it was just a short walk, maybe a mile, with some swimming along the way.  As we turned back, I all of a sudden realized that Sadie was limping on her right hind leg.  She had not made a sound.  She just came up lame.  She would not put it down when walking.  Would use it a bit when running, and would include it in her stride when running (Even though I tried to keep that to a minimum) though I am not sure how much weight she was letting in bear.    Took her home, and really was only using three legs 24 hrs. later, so off to the vet.   Given Covid, I sat in the car, while they did the examination.   Did a complete lab work up.  Did not believe there was serious damage to the leg.  Prescribed Rimadyl and since she had tested positive to exposure to Toxoplasmosis, they put her on Doxycycline for 30 days.  It can cause joint pain, so wondered if that was the cause


Fast foward 2 weeks.  Sadie has started to talk with a normal gait, though there is certainly times when she favors the right hind leg.   When running, she did not seem to favor the leg at all.  Back to the vet for a follow up appt.   The chemisty showed she did not have toxoplasmosis, but the orthopedic surgeon did confirm there was an injury to the cruciate ligament.  Whether a full rupture or tear, or just a strain he could not tell for certain.  They have suggested we continue the antibiotic out to assure we did not create any resistant bacteria strains, so we finished that up.  She is finishing up her course of Rimadyl, and we have her on Fish Oil/Omega 3 supplements and Cosequin.  She seems to be doing well.  The limp has, fore the most part, completely disappeared.  She is happy.  We have limited her exercise and tried to minimize jumping, excessive running, a lot of exercise (In short, for her she is happy, but anxious to go do SOMETHING).   When she does run, she does not appear in any pain. 


I am totally torn at this point.  I am not planning on hunting her this season.  I want to ease back into everything.  But am I in denial. Do I need to go the surgical route.   My gut says wait and see, but I am looking for the advice of others who have been there.   I look for advice. 

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Interesting as my springer has or had the same symptoms. Same exactly as you wrote it.  I had her looked at and they found no ccl damage at all. Decided on the wait and see approach. This was about 5 months ago. Im convinced she had a partial tear or something. Her problem is when I throw bumpers in the yard she goes  110% until she is past the bumper and then totally contorts her body at 27 different angles while hitting the brakes and skidding to a stop. I never limited her exercise or anything, just put the bumpers away for good. 

I now have a 14 wk Golden pup. They run and beat each other up a dozen times a day. There hasnt been a limp for a few months now.  Its game on for this Fall. No limits from me. I dont know if partial tears can repair themselves or not. 
Im rambling on... anyway the symptoms you describe are the same. 

Good luck. Ive been thru 2 titanium knees with a previous Golden and was ready to be told that again. 

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Allen McCallie

Sorry you are having these troubles.


I will only contribute by saying that my vet was able to give a fairly conclusive diagnosis of CCL damage just by manipulating the joint, much the same way my orthopod did with my own torn ACL.


We elected to have the TPLO procedure done on my then 13 year old GSP (this was now about 18 months ago). His recovery was total and wonderful. He returned to his normal level of  daily activity and hunted beautifully, literally hunting hard for hours at a time right up until cancer caught up with him in April of this year.  The recovery from TPLO was slow and cautious for about 10 weeks, and I could not have accomplished it without my wife's daily help, but it was more than worth it to see a fully-recovered, happy, and grand old dog.


Good luck.



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15 hours ago, UplandHntr said:

Her problem is when I throw bumpers in the yard she goes  110% until she is past the bumper and then totally contorts her body at 27 different angles while hitting the brakes and skidding to a stop.

Sadie sounds like her smaller sister.  Same exact enthusiasm.  I can see the contortions your dogs make, as Sadie does the exact same thing.


Guys, thank you for your feedback.  I will cool things off for a bit and see how it goes.  UplandHntr, what you describes suggests that my plan to wait and see for a bit, holds some merit.  Allen, both the certainty of the diagnosis, coupled with the positive experience in the end suggest that it may not be that bad, but if it does get worse, there is a good solution we can turn to.


Thankfully, we have pet insurance, so it is not a monetary decision.  Just trying to do what is best for Sadie. 

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An early partial tear typically will have no radiographic changes and minimal palpable joint effusion and no laxity or "drawer sign". Unfortunately by the nature of the structures the ligament won't heal or repair itself. With a partial tear, once that inflammatory process is set in motion, the ligament will continue to deteriorate.

The upside is it may have been a different soft tissue injury. If she had radiographs initially you could repeat them in 8 weeks and see if there's any progression as far as increased joint effusion or osteophytes.

If the original Surgeon's assessment seems inconclusive I'd get a second opinion from a "Boarded" Surgeon with some experience if the lameness recurrs or continues.

Hoping for the best for your girl. Keep us posted.

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Two of my dogs needed the surgery when they were 3 years old. One would put no weight on the injured leg at all. U-MN fixed him up fine. The second wasn't quite so bad but the orthopedic vet recommended the surgery so we did that one also. It also turned out fine. A year ago Max was light on one leg and I thought here we go again. But the same vet checked him out and said that was not the case, a little rest and he was good. It is a stiff bill and the recovery therapy is time consuming but worth it.

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