Orthopedic Surgery For Dogs

Dogs and cats get orthopedic injuries just like we do. In fact, it may surprise you to find out that almost any surgery that can be performed in human medicine has a corresponding animal procedure for your pet. Veterinary medicine has changed--and improved--drastically over the years as the human-animal bond has increased.

Working with veterinary surgical specialists over the last several years has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist. Not to mention the fact that I have had to take advantage of some of these "possibilities" for not only personal pets, but also for rescue animals in my care.

So, what kinds of injuries require specialty orthopedic surgery?

Broken bones, of course, come instantly to mind. But, does your pet need to be seen by a surgical specialist, or can your primary veterinarian repair the fracture? Well, this depends not only on the complexity of the fracture and the procedure to repair it, but also on the skill and experience of your veterinarian. I have seen cases where the pet had to undergo additional surgery by a specialist after a first attempt by a primary care physician. Think of it this way: if you had been hit by a car and required major surgery, would you go to your GP, or would you want to be operated on by a surgeon?

Joint injuries are also very common, especially in large, athletic breeds, and in overweight dogs. We routinely operate to correct torn cruciate ligaments and luxating patellas. These procedures are usually fairly costly, and the last thing you want to do is try to save a few dollars by having an inexperienced doctor perform these procedures. I have seen hip surgeries go so badly that there is no longer anything for a specialist to work with. There is nothing as difficult as telling a client that you could have helped their pet -- if you had been able to operate first, or sooner.

Recovery and rehabilitation are difficult for many pets, and for their owners! It takes a long time for bones to heal properly. So, if you pet needs orthopedic surgery, you are looking at approximately 12 to 16 weeks -- yes, that's 3 or 4 months! -- before "Roscoe" will be able to go back to normal, off leash activity. I'm not sure who this is more difficult on, the patient, or the owner. But, the worst thing you can do is assume that because "Roscoe" doesn't seem to be in any pain, you can relax on the exercise restrictions. You don't want "Roscoe" to end up back in the operating room, or worse, end up not being able to be restored to normal activity at all.

Not only have I seen pets have to come back for second, third, even fourth surgeries, I have also seen dogs that had to be put down because their prognosis for recovery was so poor when exercise restrictions were not followed. When the surgeon says 2 weeks in a crate, and an additional 8 weeks of on-leash walking only, she means it!

The use of orthotic devices is an option for pet owners when surgery is risky or to help in your pet's recovery process. Custom braces can support the operated limb and allow proper healing to take place. They can also help correct the limb's function without surgery. Your surgeon will be able to let you know whether this is an option for your pet.

Baby Girl is a beautiful Australian Shepherd at Mill Creek Animal Rescue. She came to us when she was about six months old with a horrible limp. I took her to an orthopedic surgeon. X-rays showed that she had suffered a fracture of her front left leg at some point in the past. Unfortunately, this was never treated, and there was a mal-union of the radius/ulna. Her ulna had tried to grow, but was growing out, rather than in length, while the radius continued to grow normally. This resulted in her paw being pushed sideways at a terrible angle. The doctor felt that although she had probably attained 65% of her full size, that surgery would benefit her and provide improved quality of life.

Baby Girl underwent surgery in early January. A 1 centimeter segment of the ulna was removed, and then the bone stabilized by divergent pins. The x-rays looked promising, and her foot appeared much straighter than it had pre-surgery. Now, Baby Girl thought she was better immediately. She wanted to romp and play the day after surgery. But, having seen post-surgery disasters, I followed the aftercare instructions to the letter. Two weeks post surgery, the splint came off. Baby Girl was walking much more normally, but still remained crated except for 3 or 4 daily leash walks.

Last month, Baby Girl returned for x-rays to determine whether or not the bone had healed. The x-rays revealed: SUCCESS! Although a pin had migrated and had to be removed, Baby Girl was released back to full, unrestricted activity -- much to her joy and mine!
In closing, orthopedic surgery can greatly improve your dog's quality of life. If your dog requires surgery, first find a good orthopedic surgeon. If your primary care veterinarian doesn't have a recommendation for you, visit the ACVS (American College of Veterinary Surgeons) website for the name of a specialist near you. And, whatever you do, follow the aftercare instructions. It may be difficult on both of you, but in the long run, you'll be glad you did!

CD Miller is the founder of Mill Creek Animal Rescue. You can view pets available for adoption at Petfinder.com Also, be sure to visit The New Pet Zone for the latest news and product reviews for a healthier happier pet!

1 komentar:

Unknown mengatakan...

I think it is good that we have orthopedic surgeons for our pets. I would hate to have my dog ruin its leg and have to live with a deformity for the rest of its life. It was a little worried when my dog broke its leg because I didn't know if we was going to heal right, but the surgeon was able to stabilize the leg so that the bones wouldn't move out of place.

Zach Thalman | http://www.northacademyvet.com/our_services/Orthopedic_Surgery.htm

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