No more vet visits!
I couldn’t believe it. My dog graduated! This whole conservative management process really works!
We went to our third and (we didn’t know it) final hydrotherapy vet visit. The vet watched Darcy on the underwater treadmill and said, “Okay, your dog graduated!” I couldn’t understand what she was talking about? She said that she didn’t feel right having me come in every week for hydrotherapy when my dog is doing so awesome. She said to not tell her boss that. Since we’re up to over an hour walks every day and we have taken Darcy to the lake for swimming to just keep on doing what we’re doing. She also said that she couldn’t even tell which leg was the injured one just by looking at Darcy. She did say that we can come in during the winter for hydrotherapy if the snow gets too bad. Darcy won’t be able to walk in deep snow because “postholing” is not good for my dog’s knee. She told me to just keep pushing her and lengthening her walks and swims.
We take Darcy out on 1 hour plus long leash walks every day. We let her swim in the lake on those walks and have let her off leash so she can go in the water. She just wades at about the same level of water that was in the hydrotherapy tank. She has gone in all the way to chase ducks (she never comes close). Our neighbors are all amazed at how well Darcy is doing and ask many questions about what we did.
We keep her on leash during the whole walk except when she’s swimming. We let her meet other dogs, but don’t let her play too long. The vet told me that the quick spinning and/or jumping with other dogs can re-injure her.
We also let her out in the backyard by herself now. The vet said to try it and it worked. We close it up at night because of wild animals, but she is free to come and go all day.
I still do her dog exercises everyday because she loves the carrots and the exercises.
I’m a bit concerned for her and really keep an eye out to make sure she doesn’t re-injure herself. It’s hard to watch her off leash loping around, waiting for her to hurt herself at any moment. But, I have to give her freedom and let her enjoy life too. She really does seem like exactly the same dog as pre-injury.
I will say that I’m not going to let her off leash on walks to chase bobcats ever again! As long as we can give her quality of life and daily exercise, that’s really all that matters.
So, for us, Conservative Management worked great! I truly hope that my experience helps someone else in their decision. I would definitely recommend trying it at least.
I wish you the best for you and your dog!