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Dog Knee Surgery: Anna and Winnie’s Story

By Colleen Williams
May 18, 2017 • 3 min. read
anna and winnie
Anna and Winnie just 6 weeks post double knee surgery.

Just last year, two of the top conditions seen at the vet were limping and ACL (cruciate ligament) injuries. As pet parents, we already know the hazards of a playful pup who overdoes it – however, we may not be ready for the vet’s recommendations. No longer just suggesting pups “take it easy,” vets regularly schedule expensive x-rays, treatments, and even surgeries that can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the injury.

Cost aside, with advancing science, dogs can heal better and faster than ever before; we asked pet parent Anna about her experience with Winnie who had a double knee replacement in 2016.

Healthy Paws: Tell us a little bit about your pup, Winnie.

Anna: We adopted Winnie two years ago from a local shelter after her litter had been left in a box on the side of the highway. She was an 8 week old pit/”boxer” mix, but soon grew into the 100 lb. pit/mastiff that she actually was! Winnie has always associated herself with our cats, which is why she is constantly trying to sit on laps, steal space in bed, and lunge off furniture. She’s a bundle of love, but can sure take out some [human] knees if she’s not careful.

HP: Our records indicate that Winnie has had major knee surgery – basically a double knee replacement (TPLO surgery to repair the cruciate ligament). What were her symptoms and how did you know to take her to the vet?

Anna: Winnie started limping on her back legs every time she overexerted herself. For a while, the limping would go away after a few days, but once, after a visit to the dog park, she was unable to walk home.

We took her to the emergency vet that night and they quickly assessed that she had torn a cruciate ligament and should be seen by a specialist. They sent us home with pain meds and we set up a surgical consult for the next day.

HP: How quickly was she diagnosed and recommended for surgery? Were you ready for Winnie to undergo surgery that quickly?

Anna: We took Winnie to a highly recommended surgeon that specialized in TPLO surgeries. They could diagnose a tear in her back right knee after running x-rays. It turned out that both of Winnie’s back knees were 10 degrees offset from a normal dog knee, which left her prone to tearing ligaments.

Due to her size and the potential of tearing her other knee during the recovery process, we decided to perform surgery on both knees at once. A normal TPLO surgery includes bracketing the knees with a hinge to replace torn ligaments, but Winnie also needed to have both knees broken and reset due to the misaligned angle of her knees.

Winnie had her surgery two weeks after her diagnosis.

HP: How was the recovery process?

Anna: I can’t tell you how shocked I was when a day after surgery she walked out of the vet hospital on her own (she was SO ready to go home!). The first two weeks of recovery were difficult. She was able to walk outside to go to the bathroom with the help of a sling, but it was painful to squat so she had a lot of accidents in the house. She was also very clingy and required a lot of attention, rightfully so. Thankfully, I was able to work from home for the first three weeks of her recovery, which was necessary as she needed painkillers every four hours.

Even though the first few weeks were difficult, she was drastically improving every day! After a month, the hardest part was keeping her contained as she was almost back to her normal self. We were so happy that we decided to do both knee surgeries at once. She didn’t need physical therapy since she was using both knees equally during the recovery process and short walks kept her legs strong and healing fast.

HP: How’s Winnie doing today?

Anna: Winnie is doing amazing! She just had her last x-rays and everything is healing perfectly. We can now take her on long walks and she should be able to run and jump within the next few months. We are so thankful for Healthy Paws and how easy the claims process was! It allowed us to make a necessary decision regarding Winnie’s quality of life, without having to stress about the money. Thank you again, Healthy Paws, you have a member for life!

Vet bills can add up, especially for a serious surgery like Winnie went through. The total for Winnie’s surgery and follow up visits was $6,707 and Anna’s Healthy Paws policy covered 80%, or $5,366. Healthy Paws regularly reimburses claims upwards of $5,000 for ACL and knee replacement surgery. The good news is with our dog insurance policy, depending on your deductible and reimbursement rate, you could see those bills be covered up to 90%.Get a free quote today.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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