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Part 1 of 2

My father has a pet Labrador retriever. I took her for a long walk in my dad's neighborhood; longer than she was used to.

She started limping. After I brought my father's dog back home, my father took his lab to a veterinarian. The vet says the dog is suffering from a torn ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament injury). My father scheduled a rather expensive surgery with the veterinarian.

The day after the walk, my father's dog has stopped limping. She is walking on all fours, like normal; no limp. The surgery for a torn ACL has not taken place yet.

I know nothing about veterinary medicine. I am wondering, does a torn ACL imply that a dog will limp all of the time? The contrapositive might be: (Dog-Not-Limping) implies (Dog-does-not-have-torn-ACL)

A couple of years ago, the same dog had surgery on a different leg. My father paid for his Labrador retriever to swim in a swimming pool for several weeks as part of physical therapy (rehabilitation). I am thinking that my father's veterinarian is unscrupulous. Maybe the vet is willing to perform unnecessary medical operations to earn more money.

Is it normal for a dog with a torn ACL to stop limping, and walk around normally the next day?

Part 2 of 2

During the walk, my dad's Labrador went swimming in a local creek and she got very wet and cold. I tried to use a warm hair-blow dryer when we got back home to dry her up. The drier was warm, but not hot, I tested it on my hand before ever pointing the drier at the dog. But the dog would not let me use the hair-blow drier at all. Instead, she curled up on a sofa and shivered a bit.

I have a hypothesis, but I might be wrong: my dad's dog is arthritic, and cold temperatures make her limp.

My father's Labrador seems to limp about once or twice per week, but a few hours later, she is fine again. She walks normally, and does not limp at all.

The dog is between 4 and 8 years old.

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It's impossible for us to diagnose your dog. My best advice is to take your dog to a different vet for a second opinion.

The symptoms you describe could very well be caused by an injured CCL (cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL – similar to the ACL in humans), but there are several other possible causes for them as well. Your vet needs to assess the stability of your dogs knee joint and probably also do an x-ray to find the real cause.

You can read more information about CCL injuries online. Some trustworthy souces include:

In summary:

  • Labrador retrievers are one of several breeds predisposed to CCL injuries
  • If a dog develops a CCL injury in one leg, the risk is high that the other leg will be affected as well
  • The only permanent treatment is an operation. If left untreated, the ligament will get worse over time and the instability of the joint can cause more side effects like arthritis
  • The symptoms can range from "having a hint of lameness to being unable to bear weight on the injured leg" (Source: WebMD Pets, see link above). "The lameness can worsen with activity and improve with rest" (Source: The Spruce Pets, see link above).
  • The symptoms can be confused with arthritis, fluids and bone fragments in the joint. It needs at least a physical exam and often an x-ray of the knee to diagnose.

As to blow drying your dog: she was probably afraid of the sound of the blow dryer. You'll probably have more success drying her with a towel.

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