Working dog worries... to operate or not?
One of your best dogs pulls up lame, he has ruptured all the ligaments in his hock and the surgery to fix it is going to be expensive. The key question is; what are the chances of him getting back to work as well as he did before?
Unlike most other joints in the body, both the hock and the carpal (wrist) joints are made up of lots of small bones held together by ligaments. Hyperextension injuries (most commonly done by trapping a foot when jumping off a bike or a foot getting stood on by a cattle beast) can be forceful enough to rupture more than one of these ligaments, causing a very unstable joint. Surgically repairing the ligaments often gives an unsatisfactory result. The ideal is to surgically open the joint, remove the cartilage surface of the bones and fuse the joint with a bone plate or pins, leaving it to heal much as a fracture would.
Studies from Massey University have found that eleven out of twelve owners whose dogs had their carpal joints fused were happy with the outcome of the surgery, with six dogs returning to full work. A further four dogs could nearly perform all of their duties. A similar study of owners whose dogs had their hocks fused found that thirteen out of fourteen were positive about the surgery. Eleven of these dogs returned to normal or near normal workloads.
If you and your dog are faced with injury, decisions are not always easy, we are always here to provide information on options and support the decision making process.