Charlie, Heal

January 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm 13 comments

Charlie had his right knee surgically repaired yesterday. He had a grade four medial luxating patella.

A dog’s patella, also known as his kneecap, normally rides in the trochlear groove at the bottom of the femur. The femoropatellar (above) and patellar (below) ligaments hold the patella in the trochlear groove. It’s usually a congenital problem (though it can also arise from blunt force trauma injuries) and is most common in small and toy dogs.

There are four diagnostic grades of patellar luxation, each more severe than the previous:

  • In a grade I luxation the patella can be manually pushed out of place but it returns to the normal position when released;
  • The patella can also spontaneously luxate in a grade II injury and the patella remains luxated until it is either manually reduced (put back into place) or popped back into place by the animal.
  • In grade III luxations the patella stays luxated most of the time. It can only be put back into place when the knee is extended.
  • Grade IV luxations like Charlie’s are the most severe. The patella is permanently out of place and can’t be manually repositioned. The trochlear groove is shallow or absent, and there is the quadriceps muscles are displaced in the direction of luxation.

Patellar luxations are typically caused by congenital abnormalities of the femur that result in abnormal forces on the kneecap that cause it to ride outside the groove. The groove may be to shallow to hold the patella and the ligaments may be positioned incorrectly on the tibia. It they’re not repaired, patellar luxations in young animals can cause the tibia and femur bones to become twisted.

When the trochlear groove is shallow, it is surgically deepened to create a deeper groove for the patella to ride in. If the tibial crest where the patellar ligament connects to the tibia is in the wrong position, it is surgically repositioned. The bony crest is cut away and then reattached in a position so that the patella can ride in the trochlear groove. Pins fasten the bone in place.

One of Charlie’s many nick-names is Chuckie Ray. Even though he’s turning into a sweet, snuggly puppy, the name fits him pretty well this week. His skinny, shaved, betadiene-stained leg earned him another charming moniker: Chucky Chicken Leg.

The clinic let me take Charlie home late the afternoon of this surgery. They typically keep dogs overnight after this surgery, but he was stressed by the clinic environment and they knew I’d keep a close eye on him. I *heart* that clinic.

He’s been very good – so far. I’m sure that post-surgical pain and the after effects of the anesthesia have a lot to do with this and I expect him to turn into a major pain in the ass in the next week or so.

Charlie and I will have to endure eight weeks of restricted activity. He’s on strict crate / leash rest and I’ve got a physical therapy regimen to follow with him. He’s a very bright, athletic, driven little dog and I’ll have to be creative to keep his mind busy while his body heals. Once he starts to feel better I plan to teach him some stationary tricks and maybe work on teaching him the names of some of his body parts using Kayce Cover’s methods.

Entry filed under: dogs, health.

If I’ve told you once Media Treats

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miz Minka  |  January 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    A classic Kong stuffed with peanut butter always gave my dog hours of “crate enjoyment.” (He had to be kept quiet for 30 days because of a treatment for a pretty severe heartworm infestation.) PB may be not such a good idea if you’re worried about calories, however.

  • 2. Kari  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Im sure that keeping him confined will be the worst part by far

  • 3. SmartDogs  |  January 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Oh yes! We have many Kongs.

    I plan to use various treat toys – Kong, Leo, Buster Cube and Tug-a-Jug to feed him. But in little bits at a time and possibly stuffed with frozen broth or even just ice sometimes. He only weighs 25 pounds, he won’t be getting much exercise and I need to keep him lean.

  • 4. Rob McMillin  |  January 19, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Wow, poor guy. Look at all that shaved fur! Does he get a jacket or something when it’s time to go outside and pee?

    We got this red thingy attacking us this week, and boy is it pissed. You might want to get something for Chuckie Ray before that 230 MPH jet stream expresses that soon-to-be-snowy goodness on the upper midwest

  • 5. SmartDogs  |  January 19, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Nope. No coat. Pee breaks are short because he’s quite lame, and we’re having a major heat wave with daytime temps in the lower 30’s.

    Also, getting him into a coat while he’s loaded on drugs and only has three good legs would be difficult.

  • 6. Mike  |  January 20, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I always feel so sad for dogs when they have to get shaved 😦 Glad Charlie’s in good hands for this. Good luck on the recovery.

  • 7. Dani  |  January 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Good luck! We are just on the tail end of two weeks of restricted activity with our 10 month old Jack Russell. It has been a challenge as she has started feeling better and bored with the crate and leashed activity, I can’t imagine trying to keep her quiet and occupied for another week, much less 8. Poor little guy.

  • 8. Helen McMillin  |  January 20, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Ah, poor thing, and poor you. Hopefully time will fly by and he’ll be running before you know it. Happily, and with a lot less pain.

    Of course, after that it starts again, doesn’t it?

    Hmmm. I think I know who’s looking forward to summer….

  • 9. Rob McMillin  |  January 20, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    And, I might add, for both of you. When’s your surgery scheduled?

  • 10. H. Houlahan  |  January 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

    It’s scary how much that shaved leg really does look like a frankendrumstick.

    Smoke going up to the dog gods for rapid and uneventful healing.

    Extended restriction is a great time to play with bridge and target. I think Margaret from NESR did it when her Lucy discovered the inevitable outcome of dog vs. horse collisions.

  • 11. Rob McMillin  |  January 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Prolly oughta provide a link to this post on the Charlie page.

    And whatever happened to those videos from the “before” time, anyway?

  • 12. Melinda  |  January 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Ow, ow, ow. Hope Charlie mends quickly and doesn’t wear you out while he’s on crate rest. I thought I was going to go bonkers long before Jet during his meager 10 days of restricted activity! The mental exercise was good for both of us, but whew! it was a lot of work.

    Link to the bridge/target training was really interesting. I’ll be mulling over that for quite a while. Hope you’ll have some time to blog about how Charlie experiences that kind of learning.

  • 13. New cho-pat knee straps  |  April 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

    […] Charlie, Heal « Smartdogs' Weblog […]

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Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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