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Ask Dr. Sanderlin

Dear Dr. Sanderlin,
I have a 5 yr old lab-retriever named Murphy, who had surgery 2 weeks ago to repair a torn ACL of the R hind leg- I have removed the dressings -as suggested 2 weeks following surgery. Murphy has been reluctant to weight bear on the R hind leg since removal of the dressing- I am not sure how to help with his rehab and recovery. He is about 83 lbs and continues on a calorie reduction diet of dried food- Nutro- Senior with Glucosamine and Chondriotin.

I have looked at some of the articles and supplements recommended and wonder what combination would be of most benefit.

On x-ray pre-surgery there was also the beginning of some hip degeneration.

Would you suggest water therapy, acupuncture, massage or chiropractic treatment and how soon and often. I can imagine that as with humans, rehab is a continual process of recovery - don't want to do too much too soon, but could use some suggestions on a rehab/recovery plan.

The vet who did the surgery only suggested Cartophen shots once a week for 3 weeks post surgery.

Thanks you for your assistance.

Sincerely, Debby


Hi Debby,

I hope that this message finds both you and Murphy are doing well after his knee surgery. It is not unusual for Murphy to be reluctant to use his leg immediately after surgery. There are many factors that contribute to the postoperative period and healing process after orthopedic surgery. These include age, size/weight, pain tolerance, time, and how much damage occurred to require surgical repair in the first place. Most dogs that require cruciate ligament repair by either TPLO or extra capsular procedures heal faster and more completely when physical therapy is instituted within the first 2-3 weeks postoperatively. Also, pain and inflammation must be controlled and it is essential that proper nutrition and joint supplements are provided to allow optimal healing to occur.
I would recommend that Murphy receive a quality fatty acid supplement like Vetri Science Omega 3, 6, 9. Also, natural joint support products such as DGP and Only Natural Pet Get Up & Go are important to give, and finally, it is essential to provide a joint supplement like Glyco Flex and Only Nautral Pet Lubri-Ease to provide building blocks for healing cartilage, joint fluid, and connective tissue. These supplements, along with losing any excess weight, would also benefit the abnormalities noted on his hip radiographs.
I would strongly advise finding a certified physical therapist with expertise in canine rehabilitation if available in your area. They can provide important modalities such as hydro therapy, which includes swimming, underwater treadmills, along with massage therapy , and they can also design a program of exercises that can be done at home. Acupuncture may also be helpful to improve pain and promote healing of the injury.
A recheck examination and evaluation of how Murphy is healing should be performed by his surgeon or a veterinarian that has expertise in orthopedics. Make sure that your questions and concerns about Murphy’s rehabilitation are acknowledged and answered by your local veterinary practitioners.


Steven M. Sanderlin D.V.M.

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