Putting a dog down is probably the most difficult and painful decision a pet owner has to make. The idea of having your dog’s life in your hands isn’t easy. However, some dogs are better off being put to sleep to end their suffering, much so if their condition is no longer improving. But the question is this: when to put a dog down with torn ACL? If your dog is in unending pain and it no longer eats, drinks, or moves, the vet will suggest that the pup be put down for its own sake.
For this post, I will discuss the topic in length to help you decide if it’s the best decision for your beloved furry buddy.
What is a torn ACL among dogs?
ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is a term used for the human body. But since it’s easier to recall, it’s been used in referring to the same ligament to canines. To dogs, it’s CCL or cranial cruciate ligament. It’s a ligament that runs through the front tibia and the femur.
This ligament can tear and cause devastating pain to a dog. It can be due to hyperextension, bad breeding, excessive weight, and other reasons.
Whatever’s behind the tear, one thing’s for sure: it will hurt so badly. A torn ACL will make it impossible for the dog to stand, walk, or run without experiencing unbearable pain.
Just like in humans, torn ACLs among dogs must be treated right away. It’s usually in the form of surgery, but there are other available alternatives.
In some cases, surgery and alternatives may not be enough. In this case, putting the dog down might be a more humane option.
Can a dog live with a torn ACL?
The answer is both yes and no. It depends on the extent of the tear and your dog’s current condition. Most dogs will recover from an ACL tear if it’s just a minor tear. Many won’t need any surgical procedure as the ACL tear can be managed through external care.
However, in severe cases, dogs with torn ACL will need a surgical operation to restore the damage. It may take at least three weeks for the dog to start walking. Many cases of dogs with torn ACL that underwent surgery realize a full recovery. This means the dog can resume its normal life, though changes in activities are required to prevent unnecessary strain on the ligament.
But if the dog with a torn ACL has other underlying illnesses and is old, the pooch might be a candidate for euthanasia. Still, the vet will exhaust all possible means to improve the quality of life of your pet. Putting down the dog is the last and often painful resort.
So if you’re going to ask me, then yes, a dog with a torn ACL can live. However, affected canines will live a life full of pain, discomfort, and suffering. This is where euthanasia becomes an option.
Should I put down my dog with a torn ACL?
The first thing that will come to mind here is this: when should you put a dog down if it has a torn ACL? This is a case-to-case basis, and the vets are the best people to answer this question.
To help you, I talked to my dog’s vet to ask some questions. He shared with me the following conditions to which a dog with torn ACL might be considered being put down:
- If the owner can’t afford ACL surgery
- The dog can’t drink or eat without help from its owner
- The dog can’t move around and is always in pain
- Walking and standing up is excruciatingly painful for the dog
- There is a low success rate for surgery, as predicted by the vet
- The dog can’t sleep well at night
Most of the time, if the dog with a torn ACL meets most of these conditions, the vet may consider euthanasia. Of course, the decision lies in the hands of the owner. Still, you should work with the vet to know what’s best for your pet.
Please take note that an untreated ACL tear will not go away on its own. Massive tears on the ligament have to be sewn back together for it to heal. And if you have a large dog, it might be impossible for them to have a good life with a severely torn ACL.
Dog ACL surgery success rate
In general, the success rate of ACL surgery among dogs is at 85% to 90%. This is the case for healthy canines. However, if your dog is old and has lingering health problems, the vet may not recommend surgery.
Don’t lose hope yet, though! Aside from surgeries, there’s also a treatment called prolotherapy. This is an alternative procedure usually done to large dogs with torn ACLs.
Prolotherapy, or proliferation therapy, involves injecting a kind of irritant right into the affected ligament. What happens is that the irritant will stimulate the healing process, which hopefully repairs the torn ACL over time. It can also help alleviate the pain so your dog will have a better quality of life.
However, prolotherapy may not always produce substantial results. Again, it depends on how your dog’s body will react to the treatment.
The cost of dog ACL surgery
If there’s one thing you should know, the cost of ACL surgery for dogs isn’t cheap. It can range between $650 and over $6,000. Depending on the dog’s overall health, it can stretch your budget to $10,000. The cost also depends on the vet clinic, especially if it’s an upscale establishment.
Unfortunately, not all dog owners can afford this steep price. It’s the reason why putting the dog down becomes an option. A torn ACL hurts for both the dog and its owner. Seeing your pet suffer and not having the ability to stop it is just hell.
I can’t afford my dog’s ACL surgery, what now?
It’s sad when a dog owner is forced to put his dog to sleep because of a lack of funds to pay for the treatment. Luckily, many good-hearted organizations can offer assistance so dog owners can save the life of their beloved pets. This will save the owner from the difficult decision of putting their dog down.
If you’re looking for help to raise funds for your dog’s ACL surgery, you can reach out to these organizations:
- Paws 4 A Cure. This organization provides financial assistance to any urgent vet care needs. You must apply and undergo rigorous screening. Their maximum assistance is $500, so it’s best to apply to multiple organizations.
- Frankie’s Friends. Frankie’s Friends have been saving pets’ lives for over 20 years. They can provide financial assistance to any life-threatening conditions like a torn ACL. Make sure that your dog had been seen by a licensed vet to establish solid proof that your dog is really in need of assistance. Just note that they don’t reimburse any previous expenses.
- RedRover Relief. The RedRover Relief Urgent Care grant program helps owners who can’t afford the urgent vet needs of their pets. Most of the grants they give are around $200, which is a big part to fill in the gaps in your dog’s ACL surgery.
There are many other organizations out there that can help you raise funds for your dog’s ACL surgery. Some may operate locally in your area. I highly recommend sending as many valid applications as you can to raise enough money so your dog won’t have to be put down.
When to put a dog down with torn ACL? The answer to this lies after the vet exhausted all means to treat your dog’s condition. Many organizations are also willing to help, so euthanasia will not be an option. There is always hope for you and your pet.