When to Put a Dog Down With Torn ACL

Putting a dog down due to torn ACL is not an easy decision for many dog owners. The heartbreak of such a decision sometimes forces pet owners to choose the path of least resistance and opted to euthanasia.

When to put a dog down with torn ACL

There are two main reasons why your veterinarian might recommend euthanizing your dog with a torn ACL: the high cost of surgery and the likelihood of a poor quality of life following surgery.

It is important to know that a dog with a torn ACL will not necessarily have a high probability of success following surgery. If you are not willing to devote the necessary care and attention to caring for your pet after surgery, then you may want to consider euthanizing your pet.

How much pain is a dog in with a torn ACL?

Torn ACL in dogs is commonly treated with surgery and rehabilitation. However, if the dog can’t do any of these activities, your vet may recommend euthanasia.

Here are the signs that your dog may be suffering from torn ACL:

  • Inability to walk normally
  • Inability to bear weight on the knee
  • Inability to jump or run
  • Limping
  • A swelled knee joint or knee cap (if there’s the fluid present in the joint)
  • Biting or chewing at the injured area (this may indicate pain)

Can a dog live comfortably with a torn ACL?

ACL surgery in dogs has a high success rate of 90% on average and your dog should return to normal activity within 6-8 weeks of the surgery.

Dogs with torn ACL have difficulty holding up their weight on the injured leg and struggle to use stairs or jump onto furniture. They will also experience pain when walking or moving around, which makes it uncomfortable for them to go on walks or play with other dogs. The condition will worsen over time if not treated so it is important that your veterinarian examine your pet as soon as possible if you suspect an ACL tear.

In some cases, surgery can succeed in repairing the torn ACL, but if not, euthanasia may be recommended due to the pain and mobility problems associated with a torn ACL without successful surgery.

Because it can be difficult to predict how well a dog will recover from a torn ACL, veterinarians use several factors to make this determination. These factors include age and overall health of the dog, severity of the tear, and location of the tear on the ligament (the closer to the joint, the more likely recovery will be successful), and whether there are other injuries that complicate recovery.

How long can a dog go with a torn ACL?

The primary benefit of this type of surgery is that it allows your pet to return to normal function within just a few weeks after the operation. While many dogs will be walking on three legs for a period of time following their surgery, most can be expected to resume their regular activity within two months.

What happens if a torn ACL is not repaired?

An ACL injury can be devastating because most dogs depend on their knees for almost everything they do.

If a dog is not treated for an ACL injury and it does not improve with rest, then signs of chronic ACL deficiency may develop:

  • Dogs with acute injury will have pain and swelling and might be reluctant to bend their knees fully. There may be a clunking feeling when they walk on hard surfaces, such as concrete.
  • Their gait may be perfectly normal but they may have trouble landing properly after a jump because of instability in the knee joint. They also may have difficulty getting up from a lying-down position because of the limp that develops when they bear weight on their legs.
  • Dogs with chronic injury often become more reluctant to walk on slippery floors or stairs because they can no longer trust their knees to hold them up.

The dog’s knee is unstable and the joint is painful. If surgery is not performed, the dog will continue to be in pain, and it may become lame. The dog may not be able to use its leg properly, as it may collapse when weight is put on the leg and it may drag the leg. Surgery should be done to fix the problem because it helps relieve pain and restores normal use of the leg.

How long does it take for a dog’s ACL to heal without surgery?

Small dogs, weighing less than 30 pounds, with minor injuries may recover completely within three months with rest and rehabilitation exercises prescribed by your vet. Dogs with more severe injuries require surgery to repair their ACLs.

Your veterinarian may prescribe weight control for your dog as well as medication for pain relief if your dog has a torn ACL. Your vet may also recommend that you put your dog on a special diet or exercise program if he is overweight.

How much does ACL surgery cost for a dog?

The surgery costs $1,000-$5,000 and the dog will require 6-8 weeks of rest before attempting to put any weight on the leg.

How long does it take for a dog to recover after ACL surgery?

The recovery time for a torn ACL surgery can be anywhere from three months up to one year, depending on the severity of the injury and how well it is treated. The more severe cases tend to take much longer to heal properly because they require more time in surgery and rehabilitation.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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