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Bruno's First ACL Ordeal: 8 to 12th Week after the Suture Lateral Surgery Left Knee—The Recovery

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture/tear in dogs

Day 49

Bruno the Boxer and Spencer the Pit Bull Terrier dogs wearing raincoats standing with a couple of girls on a paved walking trail

Bruno continues to improve. He is still on leash restriction and has not run free off a leash since the surgery. He goes for long walks every day, rain or shine, to help strengthen his weaker leg. On this particular day he had gone for a five-mile walk on a bike trail through a state park. The first mile was all up a steep hill. The next four miles had a few small hills to climb but were mostly level or downhill.

Bruno the Boxer in a raincoat being walked by a guy

He did great. He is using his left leg 100% of the time. The real test however, will be when he is allowed to run and play again.

Day 60

Close Up - Bruno the Boxer wearing a coat walking down the sidewalk

Day sixty since Bruno's ACL surgery, with the day of surgery counted as day one (about two months). Bruno continues to do well with his leg strengthening exercises. He does one to three hours of walking every day and on occasion has gone for four hours total in one day. He has been allowed to do small amounts of playing with Spencer inside the house, but is stopped if he gets too rough.

One day I allowed him off-leash for about five minutes to walk off and do his business. When he was finished he started to run back to the house, a total of less than 15 seconds. I stopped him, however a few hours later I noticed him holding his leg up after he got up from lying down. I do not know if it was from the very short run or not, but it also happened to be the day I was weaning him off of Zubrin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medicine. It's back to leash restriction for a while longer just in case.

Bruno is on an omega-3 salmon fish oil and a yucca supplement, both said to be natural anti-inflammatories and a glucosamine/ chondroitin with MSM supplement. He is currently also taking aspirin for dogs, which has some anti-inflammatory effects. He is also on a high-protein, grain-free diet. I am hoping he will not have to be on Zubrin or aspirin for the rest of his life as they both can cause liver and kidney disease in long-term use.

Day 64

Bruno the Boxer on the 64th day after ACL surgery on his left knee. It's been two months and Bruno continues to improve. He is still on leash restriction and is not being allowed to run free outside, but is now allowed to play with his 9-month-old Pitbull brother Spencer inside the house.

Day 67

Bruno the Boxer sitting on a blacktop next to a catBruno the Boxer sitting on a blacktop

I am trying Bruno out on a new supplement. He was getting a pill that had glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM, which are excellent for cushioning the joints. Bruno was also on a separate powder of yucca which is a natural root that works as an anti-inflammatory (among other benefits) and an omega-3 salmon fish oil. I was in search of a chewable pill that had glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and yucca. I also wanted something that had Vitamin E in it since, while it is excellent for the joints, long-term use of fish oil can cause a Vitamin E deficiency.

I didn't want to have so many separate things to give daily. I found a supplement that not only had the glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and yucca but also other natural ingredients that are said to help joints.

They are as follows:

  • Glucosamine HCI (shellfish source)—helps to prevent cartilage degeneration and treat arthritis.
  • Methylsulfonymethane (MSM)—anti-inflammatory, helps muscles heal, a flexible bond between proteins, detoxifies the body and increases blood circulation.
  • Chondroitin sulfate (bovine source)—a major component of cartilage that helps cushion joints. Provides structure, holds water and nutrients, and promotes elasticity in the cartilage. Inhibits the enzymes that can destroy cartilage tissue.
  • Green-lipped mussel (Perna vanaliculus)—anti-inflammatory, supports proper connective tissue and joint functions. Helps alleviate arthritis symptoms in dogs by aiding in the regeneration of arthritic and injured joints.
  • Boswellia serrata—has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects. Helps lubricate joints so they are easy to rotate and move.
  • Yucca schidigera—anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic, reduces joint inflammation.
  • Vitamin C (from Ester-C)—helps protect against free radicals that cause cellular damage.
  • Zinc—stimulates the activity of about 100 enzymes.
  • Hyaluronic acid (from Kolla2)—helps to maintain healthy articular cartilage.
  • dl-Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E)—helps protect against free radicals that cause cellular damage.

The fish oil that Bruno is on is a 100-percent pure salmon oil that contains over 15 beneficial omega-3, omega-6, and arachidonic fatty acids. It is salmon oil that comes in a pump bottle that goes directly onto his food. It is said to provide essential building blocks dogs need for a healthy heart and strong immune system. It also helps relieve dry itchy skin, reduces shedding, makes fur soft and velvety, and helps keep the heart, eyes, and joints healthy. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic and anti-arrhythmic effects.

Since corn and wheat have been known to cause joint swelling (among other health ailments such as skin allergies and bloat etc.), Bruno is on a high-protein, grain-free diet. It's a good idea to read the ingredients label on a dog food before it is fed. Not all of them are good for our canine friends (even some of the more expensive brands). Read Dog Food Nutrition and Basic Feeding Guide for Puppies and Adult Dogs.

Day 82

Bruno the Boxer being walked in the snow

About 12 weeks after surgery.

There has been so much ice and snow I think it has been a little rough on Bruno's knee. He goes back and forth between walking great and holding his leg up from time to time to putting more weight on his good leg to back to walking great. I have seen him slip on the ice a few times and when his leg sinks down in the snow and he has to pull it out I cringe and hope he didn't pull anything. I too am slipping when we go out. We have not been doing our long pack walks, needless to say, on days where we cannot find a clear, ice-free place to walk, or if he had been showing signs of pain in the last couple of days, but I still have to walk him out to do his business and it's been rough going. It is unclear whether or not the holding his leg in the air is due to the slippery ground or if he will always have issues. For now we are being as careful as we can.

Raising a Puppy: Bruno the Boxer