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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So Flora's due for her knee surgery this coming Tuesday to correct a luxating patella in her left hind leg. I know it's not a super major surgery, but I don't really know what to expect from a knee surgery in a puppy. Any tips from those of you whose dogs have had a knee surgery? Anything I should have on hand to make the recovery process easier on Flora (and maybe on me? ;)) What should I expect? Will I need to help her move around and go potty? Sorry about all the questions, I'm just getting really anxious about this surgery. I know it's for the best - she's limping more often than not nowadays - but it's still nervewracking.

Thank you. :eek:
 

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I found this and hopefully it helps. I know that 3goldens went thru it with her dog.
The Recovery:
  • The recuperative period typically lasts for a total of 8-12 weeks.
  • Pets gradually begin to put weight on the operated leg over the first 14 days.
  • Physical therapy comes in the form of progressively longer leash walks over the following weeks.
Post-Operative Care:
  • Initially, exercise is limited to walks to eliminate only.
  • Skin sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery.
  • Exercise on leash is gradually increased over the following weeks; swimming is also excellent exercise.
  • Pain medication and antibiotics are administered for several days after surgery.
  • No running, jumping or playing is permitted for at least 8 weeks following surgery.
If you have a two story home, I would be sleeping on the couch or bring a mattress down to sleep on to be beside her. Good luck and we will be thinking of you both. I know it is hard but it is for the best but always scary when it is our babies.
 

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I hope all this goes well for Miss Flora.

Definitely make sure they give you Acepromazine sedative for the first crucial few days. It is really hard to keep them quiet.

Get a big marrow bone if her tummy can handle it.

Teach her little tricks with a clicker to keep her brain busy. Cut back on her food/calories so she doesnt gain weight from her inactivity.

Try to insist on tramadol along with the metacam/rimadyl so she really won't be fussy and in pain.

Finn'sFan has lots of experience with this, and taught us how to set up a nice corner of the room for Tango. We also bought a soft sided crate for her recovery.
 

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I have no advice, just want to say I'll be thinking good thoughts for you and poor Flora. Be sure to let us know how it goes as soon as you get a chance!
 

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In regards to her medication.... it looks like they plan on giving her rimadyl for the pain as well as a pain patch(?) called "Duragesic pain patch". I don't know how long that will last. I may ask about the sedative since Flora is a puppy and it could be very difficult keeping her calm.. is Tramadol another pain medication? I've never had to ask for extra medication for my dog so I don't really know how to go about it, although I do think the sedative idea is a good one. I know when she got spayed they told me they had to give her an extra shot of sedative because she was so upset being locked in a room with other dogs. :confused:

I will talk to them tomorrow after I drop her off.

I am planning at this point to sleep on the couch with her on the floor next to me. I just read somebody's currently updated thread about their dog after a CCL (ACL?) surgery, so I'm getting a good idea of what my first night will probably be like. :(

Thanks for the well wishes and great tips! Today I am going to be taking Flora on a great walk to go swimming at her favorite place for a few hours (even though it's so cold outside!), and then we'll go home where she'll get a nice bath and a brush. I'm going to try playing some gentle games with her in the backyard, and just make sure she has a really good day before her surgery. I'm lucky today is my one day off out of the week!
 

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Wow- great vet. With the pain patch, she won't need the tramadol. The pain patch is the real deal. Someone on the forum advised me about the sedative- thank god. I expected Tango to have at least some kind of 6th sense at first that she should take it easy- heck no!
 

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A few Bernese Mt Dog pages have good advice for confinement games and toys:
http://www.lauriebryce.com/tplo/games.html

Tango learned speak, whisper, sing the blues and other silly tricks during recovery.
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Which Hand?
This doesn't really qualify as a game or a trick, but it's still fun. For some reason non-dog people seem delighted by this little exercise when you show it to them -- we use it at pet-therapy visits all the time.

With your hands behind your back, hide a small treat in one hand and then present both closed fists to your dog. Decide beforehand whether you want him to indicate using his paw or his nose. As soon as he touches one of your hands using the method you want, turn over your hand, open your palm and if the treat's there, let him eat it! If it's not, chances are he'll go right for the other hand. Be sure to only reward one method -- paw or nose. Once the dog has the basic idea, you can shape a gentler nose-push or a softer paw (important if your dog is enthusiastic).

That's the whole game! It's interesting to watch and see if your dog learns to choose or if he selects a hand at random. Presumably their noses could easily tell them which hand the treat is in, but we've found Kodi gets too excited to bother sniffing first and just chooses at random.

2
Roll a Ball
This is a pretty neat game that's also easy for the dog to learn. The idea is to have him roll a ball to you. Start by putting a ball in front of the dog while he's in a lying-down position facing you. (Bigger is better to start, but a tennis ball is OK if that's all you have.)

Start shaping the behavior by rewarding any interest the dog shows in the ball. Once he has the idea that he's supposed to be interacting with the ball, then start shaping for nudges instead of sniffing or mouthing. If he sends the ball rolling with his nose, even by accident, JACKPOT! Then go back to normal rewards, gradually increasing your criteria. Note that you should work on one thing at a time -- probably distance first. So no matter what direction he sends the ball, if it's a sturdy push, reward that.

Once the dog consistently rolls the ball when it's placed in front of him (Kodi learned this in one session!), you can start working on direction. Start to ignore pushes that go off to the left or right and reward those that go to you. It's OK to let the distance slip a little since you're focusing on direction. Give the dog time to catch on since you've switched criteria. When he's consistently sending the ball in your general direction, go back to shaping for distance again.

We're actually working on this trick with both dogs. The eventual goal is to have Maddie and Kodi "play ball" with each other!

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Pick Up Sticks
Pick up sticks, car keys, stuffed toys, pencils ... you decide. Fill a bucket or bowl with six or eight items of varying sizes and textures. When you're first starting out, or if your dog isn't much for retrieving, use mostly toys or easy-to-pick-up things. As your dog gets better at this game, you can use more difficult items (metal or bulky items).

Spread the items in a small circle around the dog and hold onto the bucket. You can help him get the idea by putting an item directly in front of him and encouraging him to sniff it. (If he doesn't have enough of a retrieve to pick up an item and offer it to you, work on that first with one easy-to-grasp toy before adding in the rest of the game.) Once your dog knows the game is to pick up items and "hand" them to you, let him go to work. He'll grab the closest items first, then reach a little for the others. The hard things (like car keys) he'll leave until last, or he may not want to pick them up at all. You can reward with a treat for each item he picks up, or for a fast dog that really likes to retrieve, reward after he's filled the bucket. Remember that it's a game and should be fun -- if your dog doesn't like the taste of metal in his mouth, don't keep trying to get him to pick up the car keys.

Once your dog has gotten the hang of the game with the items spread close to where he's lying, you can start to space them out more. As he gets farther along in his cruciate repair recovery, he'll be able to move around more easily and so this is a natural fit for a recovering dog. Once you're able to spread the items around the room and send him to get them, you've got 1) a dog who will pick up his toys and 2) a dog that will retrieve items you've dropped!

I got the idea for this exercise from reading about the selection of service dog puppies. The puppies that do well at this game, especially the ones who will readily pick up things made of odd materials, are considered good instinctual retrievers, important for service dog candidates.

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Big Dog, Little Dog
If you've never taught your dog to "speak" (bark on command), start with that. This game is the next step. Here's what the finished product looks like:

Owner: Kodi, what does a BIG dog say?
Kodi: WOOF!!!!! (big loud scary bark!)
Owner: Oh yeah? Well, what does a LITTLE dog say?
Kodi: ... whine, whine, growl ...

This is a guaranteed winner at Best Trick contests and might just land you on Letterman! And it's not as hard to teach as it seems. I started by encouraging Kodi to make big, noisy barks -- by getting him all excited and barky. We already had a hand motion for speak (looks like a duck quacking) and we would use the hand motion (which he knew) with the phrase "What does a BIG dog say?" (which he didn't know) until he was used to hearing them together and eventually would bark from the verbal command alone.

It's very tempting to try to train the whole trick at once, but I would recommend not starting the "little" part until you've got the "big" part fairly consistent. When you're ready to teach the "little" part, sit next to your dog and make mumbly-grumbly noises, and little weef-weef barks yourself. Some dogs will immediately start "talking back" at you and you can reward that behavior. Don't call it anything yet -- just encourage him to mimic you. If you can't elicit a sound, try saying "speak" very softly. When I did this, Kodi would ROAR in my face, because he'd been trained to do just that! I would still reward the behavior to reinforce that I did want a vocal response from him.

Then, using shaping, I could selectively reward the barks or noises that were quieter or more small-dog-like. This took many sessions over several weeks, but it was fun to sit with Kodi and encourage him to "talk" to me. I still didn't associate a phrase with the action I wanted, but I did use body language -- leaning in close for "little" dog and leaning back for "big" dog. Once I could consistently get either a soft bark or a loud bark in any one session, I started to mix and match more. At some point Kodi caught the idea of the game and really learned to turn on the volume and then tone it down!

I'm sure there are more efficient ways to train this but somehow we did it. The body language still plays a big role -- when I'm ready for the little bark I lean way forward, and I speak very softly, almost whispering to him ... "What does a little dog say?" When he gets it right and whispers back, it really looks impressive to people watching.

The next step for us is to separate the "growl" from the "whine" so we can add "What does a MEAN dog say?" We've got a ways to go on that one!


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Bang!
This is the old "drop dead" trick you may have seen before. I don't know how it's normally trained, but this is how we did it:

I started by having Kodi in a lying down position. I'd reach over and gently push him to lie flat (not forcing him). It's one of the few times we've used any physical manipulation with our dogs -- one of the nice things about clicker training is that you don't have to push your dog around -- you just sit back and let them try out behaviors! In this case it would have taken forever for him to try out the behavior of flopping down flat, so we helped him along.

Once Kodi was used to me reaching out and gently pushing him, he'd start to flop over as I reached out. I gradually changed my hand position to a pointing finger, and rewarded him for lying flat whenever I pointed at him. It took several sessions to get it down pat, but then I could point at Kodi and he'd flop over. (I didn't worry about how long he stayed flopped at first -- later we added duration as a criteria so he'd stay flat for several seconds, until I said "OK!")

The next big step was having Kodi in a sit. By this time I'd added "Bang!" as a verbal cue. When he saw and heard the cue, he slid into a down and then flopped over. It was sort of slow and strange looking, but we clicked and gave him a nice big reward. And that was basically the whole trick -- all we've been doing since then is refining it. We've added barking (Kodi thought this up himself, I think) so if you point at him and say "Bang!", he barks like crazy, flops onto his side and doesn't move. It's a great trick!

The flopping down from a sit may be too hard on a dog just starting a cruciate repair recovery -- please use your best judgement.

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Sneeze
I once heard about a Doberman whose owner taught it this trick: She'd sneeze, and in response her dog would trot across the room, pull a tissue from a Kleenex box and bring it to her. She'd pretend to use the tissue and then say, "My cold's terrible. How's yours?" The dog would sneeze in response.

Well, Kodi only knows half this trick ... but guess which half? He sneezes on command! We've been steadily improving this for probably two years, so it's not the greatest recovery game, but I'm including it because you can still teach the first half (retrieving the Kleenex), and at least get started on the second half.

For the sneeze, we simply reinforced the behavior every time we saw it. If Kodi sneezed, we'd say "That's it!" and reward him, or (if we were training and happened to have a clicker in hand) we'd click and then reward him. Once we'd done that a few times, he would look at us each time he sneezed as if to say, "Hey, I just did that thing you like!" It wasn't a big jump from that to having him offer the behavior. Whenever we were working with him and he wasn't sure what to do, he'd sneeze!

At that point, we added the cue -- I would sneeze, and then he would. It has taken a while to refine the behavior -- sometimes he'll try snorting, barking, whining -- but when he gets it, it's really amazing. We've found that if he's been barking (for "big dog little dog" or other tricks) he has trouble sneezing instead of barking. If we do the sneeze trick first, it
 

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Sorry to hear Flora has to go thru this! I hope everything works out well for you guys. In case they recommend swimming for later on, either for excercise or therapy, I'm sending you a link for a nice facility to check out ..........just in case you need it. We had taken Kelby there on several occasions and we were very satisfied with the facility and the results from the hydrotherapy.:)
 

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I'd definitely say get some long-lasting treats if she can handle them. Perhaps a marrow bone or 2, or maybe some bully sticks? These will keep her busy, she'll enjoy them, and she doesn't have to be active to do it.

Goodluck!

Why again did you decide to get the surgery? My westie has it and our vet said the surgery is an elective and is not necessarily needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow LJilly, thank you so much for all of that information! I will definitely work on some of those tricks with Flora. It has been a long time since we've done tricks together, so I think she will really appreciate it. I love the Big Dog Little Dog trick, although I worry about teaching Flora to bark... ;)

Our vet was actually rated by Chicago Magazine as one of the top 90 or 100 vets in the Chicago area, so I do really respect them and trust them with Flora's care.

Kelby's Dad - I may check that out. Flora REALLY loves to swim, and I think a place like that would really make her happy. :)

Bock - Flora is slipping her knee very frequently, nowadays upwards of 10 times a day. It's gotten so she no longer yelps when it happens, which to me indicates that she's now getting tolerant of the pain. Our vet said that if we allow this to continue for a long time she could (would) develop really severe arthritis at an early age. I think if she wasn't slipping her knee so often the vet wouldn't have recommended surgery, but... she is, and she did. :(

Thanks for the idea about chews - I think I will run out tomorrow and get some nice fresh marrow bones for her... she has a sensitive stomach, but after her food change she has been much more able to tolerate rich things. I'll just make sure to scoop out some of the marrow when I give it to her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Flora's breeder finally called me back... was concerned, but kind of accused me of letting her get overweight. She said 58# @ 10 months was too heavy for her age. Flora is about 22.5" tall and 28" from chest to her butt, and I can easily palpate her ribs. Now I'm all worried that I let her get fat or something, but I sincerely think her weight has a lot to do with muscle tone. Flora gets a lot of swimming and off-leash hikes in, and I think she has a very athletic build.

Oh well. Can't worry about that now! What's done is done. I may try reducing her weight a little bit by substituting green beans for her food, but I really think her weight is good.

Less than 24 hours until the surgery. Crossing my fingers things go well. :eek:
 

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Daisy had a lot of bully sticks while she was recovering from her ACL surgery.

I brought my top mattress downstairs and set it up in my livingroom. We camped out for a couple of months together. Made things so much easier, and she could still sleep on my bed when I was at work ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Flora went down tonight and it actually seemed like both legs gave out on her. :( She cried out really loudly and started dragging her hind end around on the floor, and wouldn't get up. I just patted her and tried to encourage her to relax, but this has me worried. Goshdarnit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The surgery is intended for her left hind leg only. The doc said her right was fine, but just now when she went down, she was extending her right hind leg as if it too was bothering her. I'm hoping it's just because she has been favoring her left leg a lot recently and in turn has been putting added stress on her right, but I don't know...
 

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Oh :( This is very stressful for you, I understand. Tell the vet what you observed, definitely. Maybe it's normal if one leg is affected that the other one acts weird sometimes? I don't know, I'm just trying to stay positive. I want you to get this done and be on the downhill side.

You know to be careful with the water when you bring her home from surgery, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, it is stressful for me. If I had oodles of money I wouldn't be so upset, but if both her knees are bad I'm going to be in debt for forever. But I should stay positive. Hopefully it's just the added stress on her right leg or something. I know that my right leg has gotten progressively sore ever since I injured my left one, so it seems plausible.

We know about the water, yes. :) I'm thinking she probably won't want to do anything when she gets home but sleep, poor girl.

Thanks so much for your input Jo Ellen, I really value it and it makes me feel better. :)
 
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