Torn cruciate ligament

Where’s the “Not good news” thread when you want it?

I heard barking from the terrace and went out to see one of the neighbour’s Jack Russells and Bertie having a “confrontation”. The Jack quickly disappeared when he saw me and Bertie turned and came limping badly towards me. He’s limped before and usually is showing signs of improvement after a night’s sleep. But not this time. So to the vets in town first thing for an emergency appointment to be told he has a torn cruciate ligament. We’ve been here before with our old rescue Airedale Smudge who was operated on 17 years ago by Noel Fitzpatrick before he was famous. It’s a brutal scenario - weeks in a cage and only allowed out briefly for comfort breaks.

Bertie is of an age where an op is far from ideal. He is my shadow, so a cage is far from ideal - unless on wheels and I pull it behind me everywhere. I also (now) question the wisdom of caging a dog for weeks (we gave Smudge a telly to watch to keep him entertained). I watched how quickly OH’s muscle strength deteriorate after 3 weeks in hospital. Surely keeping a dog caged for weeks will have the same effect? And if one leg is damaged the other three need to be good and strong.

I’m looking at fancy knee supports / prosthetics and going for a second opinion with an English vet. Sadly, I find French vets (and doctors) brook no discussion of possibilities other than theirs.
We’ll see.

My heart bleeds for Bertie and OH - their 45 minute early morning walks have abruptly come to an end and are unlikely to be reinstated any time soon, if at all.

Oh that’s so sad Sue xx


Sue, we used the following on our overweight Labrador Max.

Not cheap but they worked. We had the same problem with the Vets.

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Sue, very sorry to read about Bertie.

My wife has volunteered for years at an RSPCA affiliated dog and cat rescue centre (and continues, remotely now from France). She says that for dogs with torn cruciates, their vet-approved practice is to have a half-way house from the cage approach. They put the dog in a sort of baby crèche/play pen, with no top. It has more room than a cage, but not enough so they can run around, obviously. They also lay on snuffle bags, filled with treats which provide hours of fun for the dogs to try and locate the treats, and any other stimulation they can think of.

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Is there a dog ostéopathe or kiné near you? Who could advise on how to best support the leg?

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Sorry to hear about Bertie Sue. Our fairly old dog had surgery for a torn cruciate ligament years ago. The clinique veterinaire kept him for a few days and also told us he had bad arthritis for which I believe they removed some parts of the joint. I don’t remember him being away for very long at all. When we picked him us he was very well bandaged. All went OK, but pipi time was fraught. I managed to get a plastic carrier bag fixed in an appropriate position each time, to try to keep the bandaged leg dry. All very awkward. Our own vet changed the bandage for us as necessary. The op and care cost around 1000€.

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Thanks very much Rocam. That looks just great and in fact I think they are amazingly cheap, especially if it means a manageable life for him with no op. When we took our Airedale Smudge to Noel all those years ago we were both working and had Petplan, so it was an easy option. Over the years Petplan saved us a fortune. No pet insurance now we are retired.

Interestingly, one of the vets at the practice I went to this morning is an osteopath and when I go back I’ll make sure I get an appointment with her, she is also more empathetic than her colleague. She has done some work on Bertie in the past as he has arthritis in his lower spine - possibly why the knee went yesterday.

Thanks @George1 - that sounds like a real possibility.
And thanks for your photo and info @Fleur. I like the way his leg is propped up by the dog bed. At the moment Bertie tends to leave his gammy leg in an awkward position.

Poor Bertie :pensive: Bon courage.

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My sympathies for Bertie and for you. I didn’t realise it could be so serious, Jules limped last year and the vet gave no treatment and no remedy, though he did diagnose cruciate.
It seemd to get better but it is back again this year. He has no pain and barely limps but when standing still sometimes keeps it clear of the ground.
I will have to keep an extra eye on him.

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I’m printing our vet’s reply in full, in case anyone else finds this happens to their dog. Her words give me room for comfort and Bertie certainly seems to be coping better, though his back leg is being held up all the time and never touches the ground.

This is what she writes:

It depends if it is 100% torn in which case 100% lame and will stay lame, or if it is stretched/twisted. I personally would ask your friendly osteopath. The braces are great, and the rest is important – but also to walk on lead with the brace. With tendon issues we don’t do strict cage rest, but its important that he doesn’t twist run, or try and get on furniture etc.
The anti-inflammatories are important as are the hyaloral. Don’t forget to reduce his food by 1/3 as he will not be exercising much.
His last blood tests are very good so no reason on that count not to have the op, but you can decide this after 2-3 weeks


How you managed to get a blood test from your dog is a mystery to me!

It is obviously a week for dog worries. What with David’s dog Jules and his possible stroke as well as yours. Ours has been trembling recently, and without being unduly concerned we finally sent the vet a video. Vet phoned us back within the hour to say we should bring him in for a blood test which of course alarmed us!

Said blood test was this morning with an unhappy “à jeune” gluttonous dog who resisted like a banshee. And took three of us to get a small smear, which didn’t give sensible results. So they are summoning the rugby players next week to have another go.

His mum died of cancer at 9 (he is 10) so we are worried as a tumour is apparently a possibility. Or epilepsy, or other neurological condition. Dogs! Can’t manage without them, but adds to my grey hair.


I saw this, and thought ‘how topical’. I am laid up at home 1 week after ACL knee reconstruction surgery. I can certainly sympathise with Bertie’s plight. I’ve also managed to get a DVT in the last couple of days.

When it rains, its pours.


Oh no! Huge sympathy. Hope you are wearing the stockings and taking the blood thinners. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

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And doing the physio….

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We’ve decided (somewhat reluctantly) to go for the op. He’s not making any progress and it’s pretty clear that if he is to have any quality of life in the long-term he needs to have his knee fixed and then about 2-3 months discomfort and caging. Who knows, maybe he won’t be as wretched as we fear.
He, of course, at the moment is happily hopping around on 3 legs but he’s putting a lot of strain on them. Better to be back on 4.