How to Repair a Dog’s Torn ACL (Update)

28 Apr

MAJOR UPDATE:  Sheika continued having problems so we had to go with the surgery but it was a major success, you can read all about it the newest post Dog’s Torn ACL Repaired With TPLO Surgery.

Hi there!

I have been amazed by the amount of interest in the first post I wrote about what I was doing to help Sheika (our Akita) recover from her torn ACL. It has quickly become one of our most popular posts. Obviously this is a problem a lot of people have to deal with so I wanted to post an update on Sheika and also some more information about how to help our favorite four-legged friends stop walking on three legs!

First a quick update on Sheika: The restricted activity has worked very well, it has been 11 days since she first injured herself and was only walking on three legs. You probably know what I mean if you have found this page, but in case you don’t: when a dog injures their leg that bad they literally walk on their front legs and hop on their good hind leg and will not let the injured leg touch the floor here is a pic….


It is heart breaking to watch your normally playful and energetic companion struggle just to get around. But the progress has been exceptional for Sheika. She is now walking on all four legs as of about 3 days ago, although with a major gangster limp.

It is important to note that Sheika is only 3.5 years old so I think her recovery time is going to be much faster than an older dog. It is also important to note that for the first 5 days Jany and I were very concerned that she was not getting better, but in walking her I noticed very small improvements day by day. “Slowly but surely” is definitely the name of the game here. Luckily I had my innate male sports knowledge to remind me that most professional athletes take many months to recover from a torn ACL.

So to recap the rehabilitation of our star pup here is what we did…

1. We restricted her outdoor activities to a very small area on the side of our house. This area has a 4 ft. chain link fence on the side that borders our neighbor that she liked to stand up at to bark at passers by. So we put up a bamboo reed fence to keep her from doing that. Click here to see the post.

2. Instead of taking her on her usual two 45 minute walks per day I began taking her on about five 10 minute walks per day.

3. In the house she was often confined into one of the rooms with our doggie gate so that she didn’t feel totally locked in but was forced to relax instead of her usual constant roaming/patrolling of the house.

4. I limited her diet as much as possible, because the more she weighs the more weight is going to be put on her good leg. And one of the biggest concerns for a dog with a torn ACL is that the other leg will tear also because it is being forced to carry all the weight.

5. Normally as part of her regular training I always tell her to sit when I am going to feed her or when we are going to go through the gate to go for a walk. But I have stopped that because the less that she gets up and down the better.

6. I have removed all of her toys, the duck, the warthog, the cow, the pig, the rabbit and yes even the rawhide bone. I did this because whenever she sees them she runs to them and throws them up in the air to let me know she wants to play. This only happens every 5 seconds normally so I decided it was best to remove the stimulants.

This has probably been the most difficult part becuase we love to play with her and she LOVES to play. But I keep telling myself that the alternative, of months of recovery from surgery, would be much much worse.

The bottom line is NO RUNNING AND NO JUMPING. This also means she must be on leash at all times when we are outside even when we are in the backyard, because as soon as she hears someone walking by the house she wants to run like a madwoman to bark at them.

So now after 11 days of this she was finally started walking on all four legs. Of course we are still very early in the process as the normal suggested recovery time is at least 8 weeks of no activity. Once we are done with the next 7 weeks we will decide if she is good enough to ease back into normal activity.

Here is a link to a Vine that we posted of her walking now, you can see the gangster limp but you can also see that she is using all four legs… click here to see the video.

And here is a pic of her standing on all four legs like a champ!


And before I finish I want to refer you to the best site that I found for information on this problem, it is by a guy that had the same problem with his dog and decided against surgery… click here for the site.

I hope you found this information helpful and that your dog recovers soon, just remember to be patient. One of the most important things I have learned from my research is that our best friends will try to show us that they are all better even when they are not. To repeat the professional athlete analogy, think of the player who knows he is still not 100% but wants to play so much that he tells his coach and trainer that he is fine. It is our responsibility as pack leaders to wait several weeks after our dog pretends to be cured so that we ensure a successful recovery and proper rehabilitation.

If you have stories of success from this type of plan we would love to hear about it, any tips or tricks are greatly appreciated.



MAJOR UPDATE:  Sheika continued having problems so we had to go with the surgery but it was a major success, you can read all about it the newest post Dog’s Torn ACL Repaired With TPLO Surgery.


4 Responses to “How to Repair a Dog’s Torn ACL (Update)”

  1. kelsampol May 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    This is great news, thanks 🙂 Our 2 yr old Akita, Hutchie, has just damaged his ACL 2 weeks ago but Im not convinced its ruptured or needs surgery. He has slowly started putting pressure on the leg sometimes rather than tip- toeing so its good to hear your experience and practices which i will follow.


    • Home Sweet Sunshine May 4, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      I am so glad you found the info helpful, especially for another Akita! I’m sure you know that with a “teenager” the hardest part is being self-disciplined enough to not play with them 😦 but in the end I believe it will pay off. Good luck and I hope he keeps getting better!


    • Home Sweet Sunshine July 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      Hi there just giving you a quick update as we had to go ahead with the TPLO surgery and it was a complete success. If you are still dealing with the injury you can check out all the info on our new post with all the details here.



  1. Dog’s Torn ACL Repaired With TPLO Surgery | Home Sweet Sunshine - July 19, 2014

    […] If you want to check out the previous posts about Sheika’s torn ACL when we thought we could cure her you can see them here: How to Repair a Dog’s Torn ACL: Lay Sod and Put up a Privacy Screens How to Repair a Dog’s Torn ACL (Update) […]


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