My poor Nik-Niks...

Posted by Dan on Feb 12, 2008 @ 9:09 AM

[UPDATED: Friday, February 15, 2008 at 9:24:01 AM]

My black Lab, Nikki, has been suffering from rear knee problems since she was about 18 months old (she just turned 4 last month.) She's ruptured the canine cruciate ligaments in both her hind leg. That's like us having torn ACLs in both knees. While she's had the problems for a while, she normally gets by without too much problem—most people would have no clue she had problems with both her rear legs. For the most part, we had been able to manage the nikki.operationdiscomfort using Deramaxx (which is a joint supplement.)

Last Thursday I noticed she was having a bad day, I could tell her knees were bothering her because she was limping and trying to avoid putting weight on them. She just progressively started getting worse over the weekend. She was barely moving and was no where near her normal energetic self.

On Sunday my wife noticed she was also not putting weight on her front left leg—which she was also having uncontrollable spasms that lasted for over 24 hours (massaging the leg would give temporary relief.)

On Monday morning I took her to the vet to see what we could do to relief her of the pain a little and to get a diagnoses on the front leg. The vet determined she either has a muscle or ligament injury that's either a sprain or a strain (without an MRI it would be impossible to know.) The vet also felt that Nikki has probably ruptured her MCL as well as her CaCL.

We've known that the knee problems would degenerate over time, but we were hoping it wouldn't get this bad. No one wants to see their dog in constant pain. It was quite clear to us that Nikki needed surgery if she was to have any type of quality of life.

Last year I had taken her to an orthopedic surgeon for Xrays and a consultation, so we had already done the research. However, the expense is very high and having both knees operated on was something I wanted to avoid for her if it was at all possible.

Immediately after coming home from the vet, I called MedVets to see if I could schedule the bilateral TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement) and how soon it could be done. Much to my surprise, they told us they could get her in today.

So, this morning we packed Nikki up and drove her to the hospital for her operations. She'll be at the hospital for the next 24-48 hours. Because their operating on both knees, they may keep her 48 hours after the surgery.

The next 6 weeks will be rough for her. She'll basically be crated 24/7—as we need to severely limit her physical activity. I'm trying to look to the positives though. We haven't been able to play fetch with her or really let her run wild for a good 18-24 months because of her knee problems. She'd run around the backyard some, but nothing like when I can play with her. So hopefully come this Summer she be back and healthy enough to enjoy all the activities Labs love to do.

UPDATES

Tuesday Feb 12, 2008

2:02:19 PM - The surgeon (Dr. Barnhart) who performed the surgery just called us a few minutes ago and let us know that Nikki's out of surgery and in recovery. The operation went well. The CaCL's in both knees where indeed torn and the meniscus (MCL) in here left rear knee was torn too. I'm not sure when she'll come home yet, but I suspect it won't be until Thursday.

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

3:27:59 PM - I just got off the phone with the assistant who has been taking care of Nikki. She's been walking around putting weight on all fours and has even been able to squat to urinate without the need of any assistance. She's got a healthy appetite and lots of energy—which is normal for her. The assistance was a little worried about how she was sitting though, because she was sitting on her back with her hind legs in the air. The thing is, that's how she always sits. It sounds as if they're going to keep her again tonight. As much as Jenn & I want to see her, I'm more concerned with her healthy and speedy recovery. I think the more time she has to recoup there, the better it'll be for her.

Friday Feb 15, 2008

9:24:36 AM - We picked up Nikki last night around 6pm. She seems to be doing pretty well. While she's a bit wobbly, she's moving around without too much difficulty. I'm having a really hard time getting the hang of using the sling they gave us to help support her. If it weren't for the ice, I'm sure we'd need the sling because she didn't need it at the Vets. However, we got a snow/ice storm on Tuesday and there's a good 1/2 inch to inch of ice on the ground and we don't want to risk having her slip. Last night was a big rough. She really hates being left alone, so she cried most of the night. She didn't seem to be in any pain, she just didn't like being left all by herself. I'll try to get some pictures taken today. They've shaved up her hind legs and a couple of spots where the IVs went, so she looks a bit like a freshly groomed standard poodle from behind.

Categories: Personal

10 Comments

  • Man! Sorry to hear that! I hope all goes well with the surgery. We have a 9 year old female lab and she was just diagnosed with breast tumors, they are expecting to have to do a full mastectomy on her early this year. Other than that she has been a picture of health.

    Good Luck and keep us posted on the progress.
  • @Russ:

    Thanks for the kind words. She's a real trooper--which most labs are. Sorry to hear about your lab having breast cancer. That's something you never really think about happening to a dog. Here's to wishing your lab recovers quickly when she has her operation!
  • Our Flatcoated Retriever, Hector, had to have the ACL operation at 18 months - and you're right, the worst thing is trying to keep them rested for a couple of months (and his was just in one leg...).

    The vet told us he'd definitely have bad arthritis by the age of 4. He's now nearly 8, and apart from the occasional stiffness, you'd never know anything had been wrong! And thank god for pet insurance...

    Here's hoping Nikki's operation is as successful.
  • Best of luck. I've been extremely fortunate with my own dogs (mostly labs also) over the years, so I can only empathize. I hope she comes out of it none the worse for wear.
  • Thanks for all the well wishes.

    The surgeon (Dr. Barnhart) who performed the surgery just called us a few minutes ago and let us know that Nikki's out of surgery and in recovery. The operation went well. The CaCL's in both knees where indeed torn and the meniscus (MCL) in here left rear knee was torn too. I'm not sure when she'll come home yet, but I suspect it won't be until Thursday.
  • Sorry to hear about your dog, especially because of how young she is. Leg injuries like that are really tough on the dog and equally as tough on the owners, I feel for you man. My dog Zena tore her ACL about 2 years ago (she is about 9 right now) and it was a difficult time period for her and me (mostly her though). Since then I've had to limit her rambunctious behavior and regularly give her supplements like GlycoFlex and the occasional Rimadyl when she's been heavily active. Best of luck to you and the pooch.
  • Sorry to read about your Lab's injuries! Our Rottie ruptured both of her CCLs a few years back and underwent bilateral TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). Her legs had gotten so bad my boyfriend had to carry her up the stairs - and she was only two years old at the time. The surgery gave her life back and she's able to chase down the ball with abandon again. She's now 5 years old and loving life. Good luck with your Lab -- it's worth the $$ and recovery time to see your pup running happily again!
  • Another update:

    Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

    3:27:59 PM - I just got off the phone with the assistant who has been taking care of Nikki. She's been walking around putting weight on all fours and has even been able to squat to urinate without the need of any assistance. She's got a healthy appetite and lots of energy—which is normal for her. The assistance was a little worried about how she was sitting though, because she was sitting on her back with her hind legs in the air. The thing is, that's how she always sits. It sounds as if they're going to keep her again tonight. As much as Jenn & I want to see her, I'm more concerned with her healthy and speedy recovery. I think the more time she has to recoup there, the better it'll be for her.
  • Yeah, my baby is going to be OK
  • Friday Feb 15, 2008

    9:24:36 AM - We picked up Nikki last night around 6pm. She seems to be doing pretty well. While she's a bit wobbly, she's moving around without too much difficulty. I'm having a really hard time getting the hang of using the sling they gave us to help support her. If it weren't for the ice, I'm sure we'd need the sling because she didn't need it at the Vets. However, we got a snow/ice storm on Tuesday and there's a good 1/2 inch to inch of ice on the ground and we don't want to risk having her slip. Last night was a big rough. She really hates being left alone, so she cried most of the night. She didn't seem to be in any pain, she just didn't like being left all by herself. I'll try to get some pictures taken today. They've shaved up her hind legs and a couple of spots where the IVs went, so she looks a bit like a freshly groomed standard poodle from behind.

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