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To hunt or not to hunt? Weighing the pros and cons after cruciate ligament surgery.


My German shorthaired pointer will be nine this June. Last November he tore his cranial cruciate ligament and surgery was performed on Dec. 1 to repair the tear. The lateral suture technique was used and the meniscus was repaired also.

Since that time he has been restricted on walks with recent minimal running short distances in our yard have him injure his knee again or cause damage to the opposite knee. My fear is he will injure his leg again and trying to hunt him may not be in his best interest.

If, in his best interest, it is time to retire him I am OK with that final decision. Of course, he still loves to hunt. So the question is to hunt or not to hunt?--RM


If you want him to have the best life with respect to his orthopedic health, you could consider not hunting him. You should absolutely keep his weight "light." He should have the joint supplement Dasuquin as directed by your vet and non-steroidal pain relievers as needed.

He should have light exercise to maintain muscle strength and joint flexibility, and discourage explosive movements, like jumping into the back of a truck.

But if he was my dog, I would still hunt him and follow the listed precautions. GSPs are definitely not in the top 10 breeds to have cruciate problems. If your dog was overweight and stays overweight, the chances of having the other cruciate rupture are increased. Keeping the dog light and lean is very beneficial.

So, what is a torn cruciate ligament? The cranial cruciate ligament is in the stifle (knee). The cranial cruciate and the caudal cruciate ligaments cross in the center of the stifle. The cranial cruciate attaches towards the front of the tibia (shin), hence cranial. It travels through the joint space and attaches to the backside (caudal) edge of the femur (thigh bone).

The caudal cruciate lays in the opposite pattern. The two create an "X" or cross in the stifle. The caudal cruciate is rarely a problem. The cranial cruciate ligament anchors the tibia to prevent it from moving forward in respect to the femur when the stifle undergoes pressure and movement. If the ligament is torn the tibia can be manually moved forward. This movement is called cranial drawer and it means the ligament has torn and the joint is not stable.

There are three common repair methods for a torn cranial cruciate ligament. The lateral suture technique or extracapsular repair is the simplest procedure and the lowest cost for surgical stabilization. It works by reducing cranial drawer with a thick suture that attaches at the upper caudal aspect of the stifle near the femur. It is then anchored to the most cranial portion of the tibia.

The suture has a limited lifespan (as in months). It will break down, but by the time it does the joint capsule has scarred enough to help limit the cranial drawer motion.

The TPLO, tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, is a more intense and technical surgery. The tibia is cut with a bone saw to allow rotation of the top of the tibia, and plating to hold it in the new position. The new angle of the top of the tibia helps to naturally prevent cranial drawer movement.

The TTA, tibial tuberosity advancement, is also a more technical surgery than the lateral suture repair. The TTA has the front edge of the tibia cut and wedged forward with a metal cage. Then a plate and- bone graft is placed to help secure the bone and enhance healing. The tibial advancement changes the angle and tension of the patella tendon, therefore reducing laxity and helping prevent the cranial drawer movement.

Contact Dr. Holcomb with jour questions at
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Title Annotation:Veterinary Clinic
Author:Holcomb, John
Publication:Gun Dog
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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