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Some dogs, particularly ones who are not very active, can live a normal life with an ACL problem. If your dog is active or is overweight, surgery is the best solution.
If I were you, I would talk with my vet about using steroids and anti-inflammatories to help with the pain and to hasten healing.
If that fails, you have surgery as a back up.
Let me know if you still have specific questions about this. I would be happy to tell you what I know.
Special diets and supplements don't often help with a torn ACL. So, you have to resort to medical management of the problem. Anti-inflammatories and other pain relievers can be a big help.
Your vet recommended surgery because this IS a serious problem and surgery can completely fix it. Some dogs still experience some pain after surgery but many recover well.
You certainly have the option of trying the steroid and anti-inflammatory route if you want to. But your dog still may need the surgery later.
You should also keep in mind that a dog with an ACL problem should be kept on a strict diet. They cannot be allowed to get overweight.
Let me know if you still have questions. I would be happy to answer them. If my responses were helpful to you, don't forget to accept one of them.