The new year has kicked off and I think I finally found something to blog about. Bailey, our one year old Boston Terrier has been diagnosed with two bad knees. Her patella, which is basically her knee cap, slips out of its socket due to a shallow groove that cradles it. Her cases are still relatively minor, class II in both rear legs right now, but the problem will get worse over time without attention and eventually cause painful arthritis. I decided to start this blog for others like me who need help and information about this disorder. Considering how common this condition is I was surprised to find a somewhat limited amount of information about the recovery process and opinions varied. I will document our process from start to finish as we repair both of Bailey’s patella’s.
We think the first incident was about two or three months ago when she jumped on the bed playing with our other dogs. She sat down quickly and cried out in pain. I thought at the time maybe she hurt her tail and we saw no evidence of any injuries so we just carried on and watched her for any other episodes…nothing. Everything went on like normal in the time since, until Friday, the day before new years eve. We were outside chatting with our neighbor and heard Bailey yelp out in pain. This time I noticed she was sitting with her left leg fully extended out. She seemed to fix it right away and limped for about five steps. Once again, everything went back to normal and it was the weekend so we decided to watch her and call the Vet on Monday. The next day the same thing happened inside while she was playing with Jake and we knew we had a problem. The next night I moved my leg to make some room for her to lay down and bumped her leg and she cried. This is when I started doing research online and caught onto the luxating patella injury.
So finally Wednesday arrived and we got to the Vet, Dr. Rhoads at All About Pets in Whitesboro Texas. I took her to my Mom’s vet first because she is a little cheaper and comes with high recommendations, they are out in the country. She manually took the patella out of place in front of me and confirmed the condition. She said the right knee seemed pretty strong still and did not separate easily. I was really relieved to hear this and made me think this was a trauma injury and not a genetic problem. She did tell me it would need surgery and we should do it as soon as possible for Bailey’s sake because she is young and will heal up better. Her husband is a board certified orthopedic surgeon but is so booked up he was not going to be available any time soon, plus he focuses on horses primarily. $38 for the visit.
Our next step was to see our regular Vet, Dr. King in McKinney Tx. at the Virginia Pkwy Pet Hospital. We dropped her off that morning and she did a full exam and X-rays. She called me and blew my mind when she asked me if I was sure it was her left leg because when she examined her, she found the right leg to be separating easier. X-rays don’t show much to confirm the condition really but did show that her hips are normal and healthy and these should be the only surgeries she will require. That was good to hear! Dr. King also said that her Crucia ligament and everything else around the area are still in good shape. This was also good news! She gave us some Glucose to sprinkle on her food and some pain meds. We also had to have blood work done to make sure the anesthesia would not hurt her and that everything was normal. It was..$400 for that visit, ouch.
So, the surgery. The operation total is about $1100 for each leg. Dr. King uses a man named Dr. Turner for her surgeries and called him a “gifted surgeon” . He is not board certified but has been in practice for over 30 years now, like Dr. King, and she said he has done thousands of these types of procedures with very few complications. He has done her operations for eight years now and she claims she would trust him to operate on her knee. Based on that feedback, from a Vet I really do trust, we decided to schedule the operation.
The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, January 12th and we are so nervous. The recovery process is going to be hell. The first week after surgery she will basically have to be in a crate full time. She is going to be stiff and groggy from all of the meds. I have seen some videos and stuff online of dogs throughout the process and it was hard to watch the videos of day two, three etc. during the first week we will have to carry her out to potty and support her while she does with a sling that goes under her waist. After the first couple of days we will start doing stretching exercises with her and work on slowly getting some range of motion back in the leg. Week two will be more of the same but hopefully she will be feeling a little better. Weeks three and four we can start with small little walks in the back yard on a leash and try to encourage her to start trying to use the leg. We will also start holding her up by her front legs and making her dance and walk around on her hind legs. After those two weeks of more stretching and dancing combined with small leash walks we hope by week four she will be getting good use out of it again. This is when we will have our second follow up appointment and hopefully her last one. Usually you don’t go back unless there is a problem. After this we will start with normal leash walks around the block starting with ten minute walks and building up a minute every few days. After six weeks or so she should be able to move around on her own again (no jumping or running of any kind) for the most part. The last six weeks will consist of longer and longer walks and more freedom, I hope. She is still young so containing her excitement can be a challenge. We did kennel train her for a couple of months when we first got her and she loves it in there so that will help I think.
What did make me feel better was a video i found of a Pug named Maximus that showed him day two and then week five. The day two video was rough, he cries and is obviously in pain and you can hear both owners crying in the background. on the five week video I was really happy to see that he looked like he was walking fine and was pretty much back to normal. This is a really common injury with a lot of small dogs, and some big dogs like labs too. The Vet seemed to think that the surgery is going to be a pretty routine operation and I have heard the other clients they have brought their dog back for the other leg. That is a good sign to me.
With all of that being said, we are both a wreck thinking of what is in store for one of the sweetest dogs on the planet. She is so happy and loving and we are feeling horrible about having to seclude from her friends and play. She lives to go on walks with her brothers. We rescued her from a cage when we got her and she has been plagued with problems her whole life. On the flip side, this operation is highly successful and will resolve her issues forever. They say that about 90% of dogs that have this operation make a full recovery and the ones that don’t are usually not cared for properly. We have done a lot of research and brainstorming and we think we are ready for this. She will not be left home alone much during the first surgery at least and we will know what to expect for round two. The worst part of this is thinking that once the misery of the first leg is behind us, she will have to endure the suffering all over again. I think doing both legs at once would be worse though. We are trying to look at the big picture and understand that in the long run this will be for the best. Everyone at the clinics agree it is the right thing to do. She is young so she should heal well and she is tough so we are going to get through this. I look forward to the day when this is all behind us and we can carry on with our normal lives. Bailey is going to have a rough 2011 😦