Currently viewing the category: "dog acl tear"

So it has been almost a year since we last posted on buddy’s recovery! A lot has happened in a year and we knew we needed to update everyone on how he is doing. When we last posted a year ago he was showing improvement and back playing. We did have a little set back about 6 months ago when we went out of town and forgot the brace at home. We had taken Buddy with us to our lake house and meant to bring the brace to keep on him anytime he was walking or playing. We have been using the brace for when Buddy will be very active and until that point he had not been without it. So we hoped that he would not play too hard but we were wrong! He was running on the beach and in the water and was playing with another dog and all of a sudden he came back limping. I was so aggravated that we had forgotten the brace one time and then he had to hurt himself. So we got back home and right away back into the brace Buddy went. We started just like in the beginning with the stiff rods and kept him in it 24/7 with just a little short break every 2 days. We were amazed to see that even the second time around within a few days he was back to bearing weight again and walking better. We kept up with the protocol and were patient. The second time it did take longer for the same progress as the first time but we saw improvement. After, 10 weeks of being in the brace he was almost back to where we had him again. We decided this time to keep him in it a little longer, so we added two more weeks for a total of 12 weeks. It has now been about 3 months since then and he is doing great again. We keep the brace for anytime he will be active and never again do we forget it when we take him somewhere or on a trip! I was so surprised and relieved that the brace not only helped us not once but twice and we are not going to push our luck with a third time. We also know that it has been a year and we still have not had his other leg become injured, which happens in so many cases with this injury. I believe strongly that this brace played a big role in that and I am so thankful for it. So for now Buddy and the family are happy again and we hopefully will not have any new excitement to tell you about.

Stephen & Laura


So i have not posted in a while and i though i would do one all about what exactly happens with a dog acl tear.  I will explain the first signs of a dog acl tear and then what actually is going on inside your dog, so you have a better understanding.  I know there is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming, so this way you can get it all in one place and from someone with no agenda that has had 3 dogs worth of experience with this! I have done a lot of research over the years and developed a pretty good understanding of the injury and what occurs.  I hope this helps.

To start you have a happy dog running around playing with the other dogs and within a second it can all change.  This injury occurs often and quickly and with just a slight wrong move.  All of a sudden your dog is on 3 legs and in pain.  So what actually happened in your dogs leg with a acl tear?  The cranial cruciate ligament is the ligament that dogs usually tear. There are two ligaments within the knee joint that form a cross or x-shape, thus the name cruciate ligaments. The problem with these ligaments is that once they are torn, they do  not heal. When a dog tears their acl and they take a step, the tibia and femur shift on each other causing swelling and pain.

So how do you know if your dog has a cruciate ligament tear?   The main sign is lameness and not bearing full weight on the leg.  Sometimes, the dog may bear partial weight or only use the leg some of the time.  Often, when the dog is still bearing weight on the leg it can be a partial tear where the ligament is only torn part of the way.  this is not a guarantee because this injury can act in different ways for different dogs.   The other sign you often see is lameness or soreness after resting.  Most of the time the dog will use the leg for exercise but after laying down for a while, will have difficulty standing and show lameness when trying to walk around. As the torn ligament gets worse, the dog will usually show lameness more often and then progress to the point of holding the leg up. So now that you are pretty confident your dog has torn their acl, what do you do next?

The diagnosis of a dog acl tear is usually done by feeling the leg for abnormal motion of the tibia on the femur.  There are two tests that your vet can perform to tell if the ligament is actually torn. The first is called a cranial drawer test and the  second is the tibial compression test. These two tests are non-invasive and easy to perform.  These tests are able to show abnormal shifting of the femur and tibia which the cranial cruciate ligament should prevent from happening. When there is a complete tear in the ligament, both tests produce significant movement of the two bones. With a partial tear, the movement between the two bones may be very subtle and  just feeling the leg is not enough to tell for sure if the ligament is torn. Most of the time your veterinarian will want to perform x-rays to eliminate or diagnose other issues.  There may be arthritis or a possible fracture or break.  The x-rays alone do not diagnose an acl tear, they are used to see any other problems.

I am very familiar with the high expense of taking your dog to the veterinarian for these tests just to find out that surgery is your only option. Now, you are educated on the injury and what options are available to you and your dog.  You will be able to go to your veterinarian knowing what questions to ask and what tests are necessary to diagnose your dog.  You can make an informed decision that is best for you and your dog.  I have told you our experiences with surgery and with bracing and that for us the A-Trac Dynamic Brace was the answer. I hope this helps any of you out there that are looking for guidance when you are dealing with a dog acl tear.


Kind Regards,

Laura & Stephen


Buddy’s 6 week update using Woundwear’s dog ACL brace – Recovery is going well!

It has now been about 6 weeks since Buddy our West Highland Terrier injured his right ACL. As you saw in the first video he was limping and toe touching. Buddy, contrary to our thoughts regarding Westie’s being stubborn, he has been quite co-operative. We used a dog acl brace by woundwear. (who was very helpful!)
As instructed we took the brace off Buddy every two days to check for irritations as well as to give him time without the brace. When doing this you have to make absolutely sure that your dog doesn’t reinjure himself so either hold him or keep your dog leashed. Buddy did develop an irritation on the side of his lower leg. We immediately called our veterinarian and WoundWear’s technical support line. Both were very helpful. The veterinarian gave us an antibiotic ointment to apply and Woundwear’s technical support suggested some adhesive padding that we could apply to the inside of the brace to keep the pressure off the irritated area. The wound healed up well after about a week and never returned. I understand that this occurs very infrequently and our other dog never developed any irritations. I understand after speaking with Woundwear that when irritations occur they are most often from the brace either being to loose causing extra movement and rubbing or two tight causing additional pressure. After a number of applications it is easy to know how to adjust the brace straps.
Application of the brace took us several times to get familiar with. We required referring back to the instructions and even calling Woundwear once before we became comfortable with it. Putting it on now seems like 2nd nature.
The one thing we forgot to do during the first week or so was to clip Buddy’s fur especially the long fur on the back of his legs. The fur at the back of the legs should be clipped down to one half inch. Once we did this it made the brace application much easier and actually fit better. After we clipped his fur, not as much fur gets stuck in the brace straps. Also when his fur was longer it tended to bunch up under the brace and make it fit unevenly. I think the better fit actually prevented the irritation from coming back.
During the first week of brace wear Buddy did not walk completely normal. He still appeared to be toe touching. As instructed we continued to use positive reinforcement with treats any time we used the brace and Buddy actually began to like the brace and appeared more excited to go for walks than he did in the beginning. We used the stiffer rods initially to decrease his pain. After 3 days we felt he was not having much discomfort and switched to the more flexible full motion rods. This time period can vary from dog to dog.
By the third week Buddy was walking totally normal and you could tell he was much friskier and wanted to run. Of course we did not let him. Based on our research it takes at least 2 to 3 months to form enough scar tissue to heal.
I think being vigilant and consistent in the use of the brace and following the instructions for wear is extremely important. Letting up on treatment to early can cause the knee to be reinjured or not heal completely.
Buddy is now about six and a half weeks into wearing the brace and he is doing well as you can see in this video. He is quite happy not having to miss his walks or be confined to a crate for 8 weeks.
We have put down mats on our tile floor at the suggestion of technical support and it does allow Buddy to get up easier without slipping. Every little things counts.
We will continue to update Buddy’s progress and include more videos. At this point I am very optimistic as to his progress.
Laura and Stephen



Here is a video we took of Buddy limping. Our vet has told us Buddy needs extracapsular repair to fix his acl tear. We are going with a brace to fix Buddy’s leg. We have read that we must be cautious during extracapsular repair because it can fail easily. We are confident we can get Buddy all fixed up using a brace with our experience from Dino and Max! We will keep you all posted!