Week 22 – Fully healed?

The vet said my dog is fully healed?

We went to another hydrotherapy session this week and the vet said that

Image of "fully healed" dog from conservative management
Darcy looks almost the same as she did pre-injury!

dogs who use the Conservative Management route are fully healed by 6 months.  We just hit about 6 months and she said that dogs will be healed as much as they can be at that point.  She was really surprised that my dog was doing so well.  She said that most dogs over 50 lbs. don’t do well with conservative management.  I have heard and read so many things during this dog recovery journey that sometimes I just take what they say with a grain of salt.  One vet said that trotting is easier to hide any weakness in the injured leg, the other said that trotting will truly show any weakness in the injured leg.  She also asked what veterinarian I had originally gone to when Darcy was injured and seemed disturbed when I told her it was right there in that same office!  She said they are becoming more open-minded towards alternative therapies for dogs.  I guess so, since they are the only place in a 60 mile radius that even has a dog hydrotherapy tank.  But, on the positive side, she said Darcy is doing amazing and she can tell that I put in a lot of work to make her that way.  That is one thing I want to come across in this blog:  This is going to take work!  Not just by your dog, but by you.  It’s going to require patience, caring, diligence, research and some of it seems to be intuition.

This second hydrotherapy session lasted longer and she didn’t give Darcy any breaks.  She also made the treadmill go faster and wants to work up to a full 30 minutes by the next session.  I thought Darcy would be pooped when she got home, but no she wanted to play ball!  The vet told me to start testing my dog’s limits as far as walking.  To take her as long as she’ll go and if there is no limping that lasts longer than 24 hours to keep pushing her.  We did an hour and 12 minute walk that was at a rapid pace and that might have been a little much.  Darcy didn’t lift her paw off the ground, but she was definitely stiff for the rest of the day, walked slower and kind of limped.  So, I gave her the next day off and took her on a 53 minute fast paced walk.  The vet said it’s a good pace if your dog has to alternate between walking and trotting to keep up with you.  The 53 minute fast walk was good and Darcy isn’t limping from it.  I think I will do that for a couple of days and then move up to 54 minutes.  I would love to get her all the way to a lake we have near our home and let her swim.  But, I think we have another couple of weeks for that to happen.

The vet also said that she thinks everyone should try Conservative Management for their dog’s CCL injury.  She said, “What do you have to lose?  You can always get the surgery later if your dog doesn’t improve on its own.”  Where was she when I started this whole thing?!  Just one person saying that would have helped me with the decision instead of wrestling over whether I was doing the right thing or not.

This vet also said to test out my dog being alone in the backyard by letting her out there and checking through a window occasionally.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to risk her getting re-injured by testing it out too soon.  So, I have found a sort of happy medium with just spending more time with her in the backyard and letting her do her thing.  I would hate to have to start over by letting her run around out there too soon.  My husband and I talked about it and think one more month would be best.  There is really nothing to lose by waiting at this point.

Now, is Darcy fully healed?  I’m not sure on that.  There is still room for improvement.  It’s hard to say if it’s more from her ACL tear or the lack of activity.  I’ll just keep her exercising and building muscle and fitness.  She is definitely happy.  I think about how miserable she was at the beginning and it makes me so happy to see her back to her old self.

I found an interesting article on The Whole Dog Journal about Alternatives to canine surgery.  It’s amazing how there is so much additional information on the internet since I started with this.  I also found a Facebook community from that article above Conservative Management for Dogs.  I wish I had known!

Do you have questions or comments?  Feel free to write them in below.  Take care.

2 thoughts on “Week 22 – Fully healed?”

  1. I have a dog I am trying to treat conservatively, assume is an acl. I do not want to do the surgery as she is over 10 and I did that with another dog ,same age, and he did not fair so well. I wanted to know how your dog is still doing? Mine is a little overweight, I know thats bad. If you could contact me by email. Thanks

    1. My dog is doing great! No one can believe she is 10 years old. We just walk her on a leash every single day. She doesn’t limp at all. You definitely need to get the weight under control. That was the most important thing according to all of the vets. We just started giving a little less food each week.

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