Saving an Animals Life

This story begins in a cold cage at an animal shelter somewhere in Florida. Libby was hoping to be adopted and given a warm loving home. Finally the day came when a woman noticed her sweet demeanor and decided to take Libby home. Libby, being an amputee, was very lucky to have found a home. She had been injured and nobody is sure how, but it ended in the amputation of her right front leg. Libby first came to North County Animal Hospital on July 5, 2007 for crying out in pain at night. Her knew owner believed her nub was bothering her. We took some x-rays of her shoulders and did not find anything abnormal on shoulders or neck. She was sent home with some pain medication in the hopes that she would heal from what had been ailing her. We also recommended acupuncture and herbs for a long term treatment.

On July 16, 2007 Libby came in for us to re-examine her for the pain she had been feeling a few weeks before. Her owner told us that she was back to normal and doing great. We went ahead and did her annual exam, vaccines, and yearly blood work. On the doctors exam she found that Libby had some deg enerative joint disease in her left elbow. Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD affect the smooth articular cartilage of the joint, which is the covering of bone in the joints that is responsible for the smooth, non-painful motion of joints. When it becomes worn, raw bone surfaces become exposed and rub together. DJD is the result, causing pain and lack of joint mobility. Her yearly blood work results were a little off, but nothing to be really concerned about.

November 21, 2007, Libby was in again for a new symptom. Her back legs were shaking. We performed an exam and concluded she may have had a partially torn ACL. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. An ACL injury is extreme stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate in the knee and is very painful. She was dispensed some medication for pain and inflammation and advised
the owner if it got no better that we would need to take some x-rays to see the extent of the damage.
Libby did well for some time, but on May 6, 2008 Libby was walking on only two legs! Her right stifle was swollen and tender and the doctor was not able to palpate the knee due to the fact that Libby was to tense and painful. She was admitted for observation and during her stay we took some x-rays. We took an x-ray of her pelvis and right stifle and found moderate hip dysphasia, joint effusion, and degenerative changes in the right stifle joint suggesting an ACL injury that will need repair.

Hip Dysplasia is a painful, crippling disease that causes a dog’s hip to weaken, deteriorate and become arthritic. It stems from abnormal development of the hip joint- a ball-and-socket type joint- in which the head of the femur does not fit properly into the socket. Hip dysplasia can be mild and slightly disabling, or it can be severe and cause crippling arthritis.

Because now Libby is not only a front leg amputee, but she also has bilateral hip dysplasia and a torn anterior cruciate of the right stifle causing significant lameness. In most cases of ACL injuries, we are not challenged with the other orthopedic anomalies that Libby has, which could be the deciding factors to whether surgery is even an option. The doctors consulted with the specialist and together felt like Libby was a very strong willed dog and surgery to stabilize that knee was worth a try. The owners were made aware she was going to require more nursing care because of the hip dysplasia and amputated front leg, but they were ready to give her a chance.

On May 13, 2008, Libby had surgery. The surgeon performed a TPLO, or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. The right cruciate was indeed completely torn with moderate degenerative joint disease present. She was hospitalized over night and sent home the next day on medication for pain and inflammation and instructions for care and therapy at home.

Libby is so lucky to have a mom and dad who love her so much. They went20above and beyond accommodating Libby’s disability and took excellent care of her to boot. She had some minor challenges with the healing of the surgical site, but she made a full recovery and was in for her annual check up July 2008 and is doing awesome.

This is a great example of the power of the canine heart and the human and animal bond. Libby, being a strong, vivacious dog despite her disabilities and her owners giving her their unconditional love and care is really the only way a story like this could end. We can’t wait to see her for her next check up.

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