Polly 3-Month Post TPLO Update
In my last post I promised everyone a more detailed update on Polly’s recovery. It’s been a very long, or rather it seems to have been a very long road, but I think I can say we’re finally there. The last little “kick” actually happened just this week and we’re finally (all paws and fingers crossed) at the point that she is no longer limping…at all! This is a massive break-through for us and a huge relief, but it also took some experimentation and lots of dedication.
For folks not interested in nitty gritty doggie stuff feel free to just click this post by, but for those interested here’s the full, gory story:
Full TPLO Recovery Can Take Up To 6 Months
When we left Sun Valley, ID at the end of July Polly’s leg had been given the all-clear by the vet, but she still wasn’t 100%. She would do well on her daily 3 x 20-min hikes, but then she would limp after she’d been lying down for a while. Plus she was still favoring her “good” side when standing still.
When we went for our 8-week checkup with the surgeon he assured us that this wasn’t completely out of the norm. Some dogs start using their TPLO leg right away and get back to normal within 8 weeks, while others take up to 6 months for full recovery. The majority of dogs end up somewhere in-between, but the time to recovery is very individual.
In the doc’s words Polly wasn’t his best patient, but she wasn’t his worst either.
It can be hard to hear that your dog isn’t doing “the best”, but it was also important for us to put the recovery into proper perspective. We knew we still had time to get there.
Part Of The Problem For Polly Was/Is Her Hips
Part of the delay to Polly’s recovery was/is very likely her hips.
If you recall we found out (through this whole process) that Polly has hip dysplasia and that will naturally impede recovery in the back end. It’s even possible that she was compensating for the hip prior to surgery, and that by “fixing” her leg (changing the joint angle), the hip problem became more obvious. Either way, post-TPLO things were now different and she was definitely feeling it.
Plus being a sensitive doggie, Polly is very alert to anything that is not working exactly as it should. To give you an example, she’s the kind of dog that will stop, raise her paw and look at us imploringly whenever a little rock gets in between her paws. This proved to be a challenge after surgery, and we had to work extra hard during rehab to “trick” her into using her bionic leg.
The rehab place felt that both of these things were likely contributors to her lingering limp. Polly was still adjusting to the new mechanics of her TPLO leg and this was probably being compounded by some extra pain from her hips.
We Knew Had More Work To Do
Polly’s final evaluation at the Sun Valley confirmed we had more work to do. Her back legs had excellent (and very even) range of motion, but her measurements still showed 6 cm* of difference in the muscle development between her two thighs, and she was definitely still favoring one side.
They sent us off with some herbal pills, a short course of NSAID’s (Dermaxx) and instructions to keep working on our exercises. The rehab vet felt this combo might help “kick” her through that last little bit of lingering pain and (hopefully) remove that last little bit of limp.
*NOTE/ Keeping track of your dog’s thigh muscle size is an important part of doggie TPLO rehab. Dog Knee Injury (the same website I mentioned in my last TPLO post) has a video on exactly how to do that.
Water Therapy In The Great Lakes Was Awesome
As we traveled from Sun Valley, ID to Ann Arbor, MI we worked hard on her recovery. We kept doing her daily walks, kept up with her rehab exercises (paw lifts, partial sits etc.) and did as much water therapy as we possibly could wherever we possibly could.
In ND we took her wading in every river we passed, and as soon as we got to MN/MI we starting swimming her in the Great Lakes. It took a while for doggie to understand these big ocean-looking things had no salt, but once she figured it out she let loose and threw herself into every piece of lake she could find. She LOVED it!
Great Lakes water therapy = 4 Paws Up!
We Re-Started Rehab in Dexter, MI
We researched the Animal Rehabilitation Facility in Dexter long before we got to MI, and as soon as we arrived we had Polly’s records sent over from Sun Valley and set-up our first visit.
The Dexter rehab is a well-rated place just outside of downtown that offers pretty much the same range of services (water therapy, acupuncture, cold laser, eastern medicine etc.) as Sun Valley, ID but in a slightly different setting. If I were to try and put it into words I’d say the Sun Valley place felt more like a zen spa, while this place feels more like a working medical center. The water tank is in the middle of a large room which also contains the front check-in desk and the obstacle rehab area. Plus it’s a much narrower tank than the one we used in ID. For Polly (who’s a nervous doggie by nature) this open set-up was initially a little scary, but she’s managed to adapt to the change.
Therapy-wise the centers are very similar and we’ve been very happy with the services. The head vet (Dr. Mary Cardeccia) is a lovely and competent woman with a very calm & warm energy, the techs are friendly and everyone is very welcoming. Polly’s first evaluation was extremely thorough and the vet confirmed her excellent range of motion as well as the muscle development of her two rear legs. The best news of all? We’re down to only 4 cm difference (!) which means our self-rehab efforts over the past 3 weeks have made a difference. Sooooo close!
Since we started at the rehab we’ve had multiple tub sessions and one acupuncture session, all of which have gone great. The only difficulty we’ve experienced is there’s a dog-friendly beer place (The Beer Grotto) a few blocks from the rehab which means we’ve been forced to drink beer after our rehab sessions. It’s been really hard work…
Note/ For those curious rehab costs here are similar to what we paid in Sun Valley. $40 for each water tub session, $75 for acupuncture session. There’s a package discount if you pay up-front for multiple tub sessions.
And I “Think” We’ve Kicked The Limp!!!
Ever since we found out about Polly’s hip dysplasia I’ve been trying to figure out the magic combo of supplements that would help her long-term and hopefully, maybe, finally kick that lingering limp.
We’ve had her on glucosamine** and fish oil for over a year, both of which she does well on, but haven’t been strong enough to do the job since her injury. The short course of NSAIDs (Dermaxx) that the Sun Valley center prescribed in Aug obviously worked great. While she was on them she didn’t feel a thing and pranced around like a 3-week old puppy. But NSAIDs are hard on the body and not something you want to give long-term unless there’s really no other choice. While she was on the course she definitely improved, but she still didn’t completely kick the limp.
So when we got to Michigan I decided to try something else.
Back when I was running the FLUTD Cat Forum on Yahoo I researched pretty much every anti-inflammatory on the market. One of the options that I came across was a natural anti-inflammatory based off milk proteins called Microlactin (brand name Duralactin** ). If you’re a horse person you might know it well, but for whatever reason it’s not as widely used in dogs and cat. In my forum days there were a few cats who really benefited from it, so I decided we’d give it a try for Polly.
Well I don’t know if it’s the supplement, or the extra water therapy, or her improved muscle development (or a little bit of everything) but within 2 days of starting Polly on Duralactin she stopped limping….completely! We’ve (paws crossed, touch wood) not seen any soreness after lying down, and she is now trotting, walking and running (at full speed!) exactly like she did before the injury. I can’t deny that my heart still jumps into my throat whenever I see her doing a “crazy run” but she’s definitely not holding back, and she’s definitely not showing any pain. We’re frikkin over the moon!
** NOTE/ We chose to buy Duralactin PLUS chews which contain glucosamine & MSM, so we’ve discontinued her old glucosamine supplement.
Is That It? Are You Done?
So, this all begs the question “Are you done, now?”. At this point I’d say we’re pretty darn close to being done. We’ve still got a few cm of muscle development to go, and Polly still needs to re-build her hiking stamina, but I would say we’re back to around 95% of where she was pre-surgery. Once this bout of rehab is over, I think we’ll be able to handle the rest on our own. We’re extremely pleased with her progress!
Long-term I know that hip arthritis will catch up to us, plus there is still a chance the other leg could go. Statistics tell us that once one leg goes, there’s a 50% chance the other leg goes within the next 5-12 months. We hope that won’t happen to us, and we hope our intensive rehab efforts have minimized that chance, but there are zero guarantees. If anything happens, you bet your paws we’ll right back in Sun Valley to do it all over again.
Phew! That was long, but brings you completely up to date and will hopefully help any doggie owners out there who end up going through this process themselves. If you have any questions about the whole TPLO and rehab process (or any tips of your own) DO feel free to comment below.
- Summer Plans Change Again (This Time It’s The Dog)
- Polly 3-Week Post-TPLO Surgery Update
- Polly 7-Week Post TPLO Surgery Update
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Lisa Cantrell says
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!!
Tom O'Neill says
Our ten year old golden was found to have bi-lateral hip dysplasia around one year of age, we had her left hip totally replaced and the right hip was only half as bad, she has done very well on this. We have used fish oil, Dasaquin, and as she has aged she is on carpofen. We are going to try to add this to her diet also thank you. She still acts as a puppy and has tolerated her hip replacement but then she was a very young dog when we did this. So good luck, by the way I order food and other items on chewy.com and have found a free two day shipping on this item and a ninety count for $52.99. This might help you as time moves forward. Love your posts and your love of animals.
What a great (and inspiring) story. Love that your girl has done so well. Cheers for sharing!
Our dog just had this surgery on Wednesday. Did you ever have to use a cone on Polly. We are just worried that our pup Gracie may mess with her bandage. Thanks for putting your information out there so we know some of what to expect.
No, we did not require a cone on Polly. Some surgeons require that your dog wears one, but our did not (Polly got internal stitches) and our dog was never bothered by the wound. It all healed beautifully! If you’d like to see the first few weeks of Polly’s progress have a read here:
3-week post TPLO: https://www.wheelingit.us/2016/06/24/polly-3-week-post-tplo-surgery-update/
7-week post TPLO: https://www.wheelingit.us/2016/07/23/polly-7-week-post-tplo-surgery-update/
Wonderful news about Polly…you guys have done a great job caring for her….I will keep positive thoughts coming your way that this will be it for her…
Thank you! Positive thoughts are always welcome 🙂
Our now 12 year old Labradoodle had TPLO sugery when she was 2. Fortunately for us, she never tore the other side. In the last few months we’re seeing signs of some arthritis but she is still doing great for a 12 year old. I hope Polly continues doing well and doesn’t hurt the other leg. Loved reading your story. Take care!!
12 years is a wonderful age, especially knowing she had TPLO. I am always encouraged to hear about dogs that only had one TPLO and didn’t ever need it on the other leg. I’m hoping Polly is the same and does just as well as your girl. Paws crossed.
Sharlene chandler says
My Delilah had this surgery a month ago and I’m so glad I ran across your blog. I was so afraid the surgery didn’t work because she walks fine but holds her leg up if her pace increases for any reason. Holding her back is hard work because in her mind she is well and she wants to take off chasing squirrels and sleeping with us. I keep telling her she has a long way to go before she can once again be the great hunter. I see her muscles building up every day and I love the measurement advice. Delilah never wore a cone except on the drive home from surgery because I couldn’t handle it. I rigged a pair of pants for her until her shed defender outfit arrived. She was happy and so was I. I now have confidence I can help her recover to her full potential and be our hiking and rock climbing companion once again. Thanks for all the advice!
SO glad my blog was helpful! And keep at it…I am sure your Delilah will be back to 100% in due time. We had to do Polly’s second leg a few years after this, and recovery took around the same time. Zero issues since though (cross fingers & paws).
Great Job! Thanks for this post, also. It may not appeal to everyone but it certainly was useful and interesting information for me.
Figured you would like all this detail Sue. I actually thought of you as I wrote this since I wondered if you ever came across Duralactin in your horse days? It seems to be a common supplement in the horse community.
Yvette Cendes says
It’s an amazing thing about the modern world that one can care about a dog halfway across the globe, and what’s more be happy that she’s doing better. 🙂 Go Polly!
Thank you. It’s lovely to know folks are rooting for us, all the way across the ocean too 🙂
Gail Morris says
Mary Hone says
I’m so glad the surgery worked for her. What a trooper you all are. She looks happy, and fantastic. You guys deserve a beer for all your hard work.
Thanks. We are SO happy she’s done so well. There’s always a chance, even with the best surgeon, that things don’t go as planned. This took a little longer than we expected, but it really wasn’t bad.
Polly always looks so happy. I’m very happy that her leg is doing well. You are both great rehabbers in your own right.
Thank you…and yes, she’s always a happy dog no matter what. If I had half her always-positive attitude I’d be happy with everything in life.
Ralph E. says
Glad that Polly is going better.
The only dog that I really liked was my neighbor’s golden retriever. She used to bug me to throw snowballs up in the air for her to catch them while the younger daughter was waiting for the school bus to come.
Denise Taylor says
You guys are the best critter parents! Great article on her rehab, so very glad to hear Polly is doing so well! Thanks for sharing all your research and progress. Hope your kitty is doing well.
I’ll be giving a full update on Taggart shortly. In fact the cat has just determined our next destination. All will be revealed soon….
Kay Browning says
Our yellow lab/samoyed mix started limping at 10 months of age. The Vet wanted to do hip replacement surgery, but the $4,000 cost was beyond us at the time. A friend suggested giving the dog 2 “Move Free” glucosamine/chondroitin tablets every day with his food. Within days he had stopped limping so we continued while we put money aside for the surgery. Bottom line: He’ll be 12 years old in December. Still on the tablets. Never had surgery. His hip x-rays look horrible, but he walks, runs, and can even jump in the back of the SUV when the mood strikes him (though I rarely allow him to do that). The vet thinks that the tablets eased the pain and as the hip continued to deteriorate it formed a false socket on its own. This may be something that only works with puppies, but glad he’s still with us and apparently pain free.
That’s so wonderful to hear. I’m a big believer that the right supplements can make a difference. Sounds like you found the perfect combo for your boy.
Douglas Tally says
Let me introduce Polly to Beckett and Aria for a romp at the dog beach Montrose Harbor (Lake Michigan) Chicago. The kids say Polly looks like their kind of people. How do we send a picture of Beckett and Aria to Polly?
Oh gosh, I KNOW she would love this but our plans have accelerated and we are heading out in a few days (my next blog post says more). I’ll e-mail you to get the pic. I’m a sucker for doggies 🙂
It’s wonderful the sacrifices you guys have made to improve your pets health. I don’t know anyone who are better pet-parents. You’ve delayed your dreams to ensure Polly and Tagert’s recoveries. At least you’ve found quality rehab centers in affordable locations with supportive RV kin-folk so you can save for future adventures. Well wishes for the paws full recovery.
We’re definitely paw-driven (paw crazy?) in this family, and we’ve been lucky enough to have some great blog readers and friends too. Overall it’s turned out to be a good year, despite all the injuries and sickness. I guess it’s nice that we can look back and say that. I’m just hoping the rest of the year (and next) will be less “dramatic”.
Box Canyon Mark says
Good for Polly… good for you!
Charles Mercer says
A little off topic, but you both might enjoy this article. Since you are in Michigan and close to Howell.
Signed, Long Time Reader and Motorhomer from Houghton Lake. (Grew up in Tawas)
Fun read. A true modern day mystery around an old object. The original glass Fresnels are priceless. I can see why it’s become such a big deal.
David Murphy says
So glad Polly is doing better after rehab in Dexter. What a bonus, Beer Grotto and Rehab Center within walking distance.
Need to mention if you do find time while still around Chelsea, Jets Pizza almost next door to The Chelsea Ale House has a great selection of craft beer. They do a tap take over every Thursday night.
Checked out Chelsea and the Alehouse a few days ago. What an awesome spot!
Polly sure is a cutie !!! How old is she? I am partial to herding dogs. Just lost my Border collie, Heeler mix in June. He was 16 yrs old . What is Polly? Is she a mix?
Oh, so very sorry for your loss. It’s heart-breaking when our pets pass, no matter what their age 🙁
Polly is only 7, so hopefully got many years ahead of her. She’s not a pure herding breed (she’s a rescue mutt), but she’s definitely got a lot of herding in her.
@Susan – we, too share tears in your loss as we’re also partial to herding breeds. Such amazing dogs!
We’re owned by an ACD x McNab Shepherd mix who rescued us in 2011. She’s approximately 12 y.o., now, and a 10-month mammary gland cancer survivor.
Sending paws hugs your way, as you process your loss. It’s painful. But, very glad he was blessed to have had you for a wonderful life. <3
Marcia GB in MA says
You’ve gone the extra mile (literally) to give Polly the best rehab therapy you could find and it’s worked beautifully. She looks great! I’m very happy for all of you.
Wonderful news for all of you!! So glad you found the right mix to make the final hurdle. She looks so happy 🙂
Pam Wright says
While we don’t have a dog, I found it fascinating to follow Polly’s recovery and see all that is available today for her. So glad to read that she is doing well:) Great post!
It’s really amazing how far veterinary science has come. Interesting side-note. When we were at the rehab center yesterday someone called to see if they would accept rehab on a cat. First I’ve ever heard of anyone doing rehab on a cat, but there you go. New strides all the time.
Way to go, Polly! She is so lucky to have such wonderful parents who take such great care of her and are so diligent with her recover. I hope she continues to improve and that her other leg stays healthy.
Thank you and thank you 🙂
Great news! Thanks for info about supplement. How long are you in AA?
We’re in AA for just a few more days. Our next 2 month plan just fell into place and we’ll need to start making some miles soon. I’ll be blogging about that next.
Nina: So grateful for this post! Our 12 y.o. herding “paws” has slight arthritis in her hips and knees, and the vet gave us samples of a Rx anti-inflammatory (a type of NSAID) that -we discovered later- has been killing dogs, especially herding breeds, even after just 1 tablet, which I had given our paws.
DH did research on that Rx, it shocked us, and we nervously waited 12 hours until the next morning. Our girl was fine, so we dodged that bullet. We called our vet and asked for supplement ideas, and she really didn’t have any suggestions.
We have a follow-up vet appointment (different vet), and we’ll ask about the Duralactin. I did research, and it looks like a very good supplement for a senior dog with the beginnings of arthritis.
So…. this RVing family feels grateful for your Polly post. Paws up, and thanks again!
Oh definitely give Duralactin a try! There are a few dogs that get some stomach upset with it (since it’s a milk-based protein), but the vast majority do fine and there are really no risks at all to trying it. It seems to have worked wonders for Polly.
If Duralactin doesn’t work out for your doggie (for whatever reason), take a look at Adequan. It requires injections, but has a very good track record of being helpful for arthritic dogs (I’ve known many doggie friends who’ve used it). If Duralactin hadn’t worked so well for Polly, that was going to be the next thing I was going to try. Plus if you’re open to it, acupuncture and cold laser therapy are also helpful for arthritis/pain.
Good info, Nina, thank you! Hope to meet you on the road one year! 🙂
I just called my favorite (humane) dog breeder/rescuer and agility competitor, and she suggested I use a “recipe” for dogs made out of tumeric powder, coconut oil, and ground black pepper. She uses it on her agility dogs.
Our home RV “port/harbor” is in a rural county, and she said she watched a horse that was going to be put down walk again after six days on the tumeric recipe (amounts increased for horsey size). The horse continued to improve and was saved.
I’m going to try that with our paws, a cancer survivor, as my friend said tumeric is also a good cancer fighter.
I found this page on first search:
Feel free to PM me to my email, and I’ll let you know her progress.
Turmeric is great stuff. I take it myself and our dog rehab place here recommended a herbal blend with turmeric in it, but I didn’t get around to trying it. I do give coconut oil to both our dog and kitties (they all love it), but haven’t blended it with anything. I’ll e-mail you.
How old is Polly? We have an almost 10 year old blue heeler that tore his ACL (CCL) about a month ago. He has been on pain meds and restricted activity, but still is limping. We were told it would probably take about 8-12 weeks before he is able to walk on the leg again. We are currently in the process of getting ready to start full-timing and have been going back and forth on surgery. We have been given both sides – he’s older and the surgery is really intense…but on the other hand he still seems young at heart?!?!
Polly is 7 years old, so she’s still pretty young. It’s a tough decision for an older dog. If he’s still very active the surgery could make sense. If he’s slowing down restricted activity could make sense. For Polly the surgery definitely made sense, and her recovery was super fast in large part (I believe) thanks to the skill of the surgeon Dr.Acker. Hope you find the right solution. We’ll send some paw love vibes your way!
I just found your posts about Polly, and they have been so encouraging and helpful. Our 7.5 year old Alaskan Malamute has torn both of his CCLs, and had his first TPLO surgery yesterday (he will have his right leg done in about 8 weeks). Unfortunately he did have a complication and will be undergoing another surgery tomorrow for a hairline tibial fracture. But, once he is home on Saturday I feel like I’ll be much more prepared to care for him because of all of the information you guys provided! I hope Polly is still doing well and you guys are having a great time touring the country!
I’m so happy the posts are helpful! Those first few weeks are the very hardest, but hang in there. Dogs are just amazing and I have no doubt your boy will heal up beautifully.