First and foremost, the last words anyone wants to hear or realize that they must make the difficult decision to humanely end the life of an adored family member that has brought them much joy and fond memories.
The same can be said when a dog owner hears the following words from a veterinarian about their dog’s sustain knee injury: “Your dog has torn or ruptured its CCL, and needs surgery immediately.”
These words have been received by a many dog owners as they come to terms with a range of surgical and non-surgical options, and their respective costs and success rates.
Of the solutions your vet is likely to present you with, the most effective solution with the shortest time of healing is TPLO surgery, also known as tibial plateau leveling osteotomy surgery.
Unfortunately, TPLO and other surgery options — Extracapsular repair, Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA), Tight Rope Technique (TRT) or pain medication management — can cost from the low to mid 4-figures.
Depending on the age and overall health of dog, or a dog owner not being able to pay the cost of surgery in cash, credit card, payment plan or by way of pet health insurance, the best solution for dogs with less than stellar quality of life is euthanasia.
The decision to euthanize one’s dog, especially when suffering from debilitating knee injuries of any type, is never easy and one of the toughest decisions to make as a dog owner.
And while no dog owner wants to part ways with his or her beloved, four-legged family member, allow me a moment to highlight and share with you under what circumstances you should consider euthanizing a dog suffering from severe knee injuries.
When you can’t bear the cost of dog knee surgery
Dog surgery is crazy expensive, especially dog knee surgeries and procedures.
When affordable financing options and pet health insurance aren’t accessible by dog owners, euthanizing the dog is the best option.
While a number of non-surgical treatment options are available for dog owners to consider, most don’t remedy a dog’s knee injury and mildly manage pain at best.
Loss of quality of life
The most obvious reason to euthanize a dog sustaining a severe knee injury of any type is the loss of quality of life.
Whether this quality of life is lost pre or post TPLO, or non-surgical treatment, no dog should be subjected to inhumane living, no matter what.
Our two boxers suffered from a degenerative back disease and we perused every available option under the sun.
My wife and I didn’t waste any time or money subjecting our dogs to living inhumanely as they rapidly lost quality of life in a matter of a week or so.
With our dogs health situation and circumstance, costly surgery was an option, but our veterinarian ensured us that surgery was not going to prolong or enhance their lives by any stretch of the imagination.
Excruciating Pain and Complications Post TPLO Surgery
While the hope for TPLO surgery is to fix our dog’s knee injury, many dogs unfortunately experience complications post TPLO surgery.
On average, 20-30% of TPLO surgeries performed on dogs result in one of the following post-surgery complications:
- Tissue damage
- Ligament infections
- Stiffening of joints
- Complications involving implant materials
The aforementioned complications are nearly as painful as sustaining the excruciating knee injury to begin with.
However, pain meds may be given to your dog to reduce pain the first few weeks post TPLO surgery.
Dog owners should never continue using paid meds months or years after the fact. Doing so will negatively impact a dog’s health and likely lead to internal organ damage, which is not far to subject the dog to negligent decisions.
Greater chance of injury of same or opposite knee
Something likely not ever considered by dog owners considering dog knee surgery is the possibility of the re-injuring the same leg or the opposite knee.
At least 40% of dog knee surgeries to address torn or rupture CCL/ACL injuries on one knee likely have to have the same surgery performed on the other knee within 2 years.
So not only do dog owners have to consider and decide the feasibility for one knee surgery, but for what could happen down the road with a re-injury or opposite knee injury.
Again, TPLO surgeries for dogs can break the bank into the thousands of dollars, not including post-surgery costs of supplies and ongoing rehab.
Now imagine you elect TPLO surgery for your dog, your dog develops any of the aforementioned compilations in the previous section, and in the middle of treating complications, your dog sustains yet another CCL/ACL tear or rupture.
Not only is this torture for your dog, but to you as well when it ends in you having to euthanize your dog after draining your bank.
Possibility of developing degenerative diseases
What most dog owners don’t realize is that CCL/ACL tears and ruptures can often lead to degenerative diseases in the future.
To make matters worse, a few of these diseases — osteoarthritis and arthritis — can result in full or partial paralysis of your dog, or eventually lead to the death of your dog.
Degenerative diseases alone are not enough to elect euthanasia, yet it is nonetheless a factor to consider with all we’ve mentioned thus far.
When it comes degenerative diseases, the one measure of whether or not to euthanize your dog is truly quality of life and your love for not wanting to subject your dog to inhumane living.
In closing, trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it later and your dog will too. It’ll be your act of selfless love to express your appreciation for the joy, love and memories your dog brought you.