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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19798
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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I have a Golden Retriever who will be 12 years old in March.

Customer Question

I have a Golden Retriever who will be 12 years old in March. He is over weight and has arthritis issues. He has been taking Rimadyl twice daily. He has shown a lack of mobility in the hip area, but seemed to be ok till last Wednesday night when he fell down the stairs. We took him to our vet last Friday. They took xrays and nothing showed. The vet did an exam, but he stated it did not appear to be a tear, but he could have a partial tear. He stated he could have a deep bruise. We were prescribed Tramadol and Gabapentin. It is now Monday five days following the fall. He still is unable to put pressure on the leg and basically not walking. He is eating fine appears to have an appetite and does not appear to be in pain except when you move the leg in certain ways. I have been massaging him and doing some slight leg rotation. Now I am afraid maybe I should not have done that reading more into it. Vet's office called today stated they will refer to a Specialist if he does not improve within the next couple of days. I do not want to put him through that. What are your thoughts?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 1 year ago.

Hello. Thanks for the question.

I would at the very least go consult with an orthopedic specialist. It sounds like he probably has an ACL tear in the leg. That is the most common rear limb injury that leads to a non-weight bearing lameness. It's not always easy to appreciate on orthopedic exam. In people, it's an MRI diagnosis. In dogs, we do it by feel. Ideally, a sedated exam will allow us to feel the laxity in the joint and confirm the suspicion.

If this is an ACL tear, these are treated surgically. Without surgery, they build up significant arthritis and the instability leads to a chronic lameness. There are some braces that can help some, but ultimately the prognosis is guarded to poor without surgery. Here is a nice link on the condition in dogs:

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Since he is almost 12 years old, would you recommend the Specialist and having him go through an exam under sedation?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for the delay. I didn't see this reply until now.

I would definitely get an ortho consult. They may be able to give you a diagnosis without a sedated exam. If not, then some mild sedation is perfectly safe. From there, you can go over surgical or non-surgical options to improve his quality of life going forward.