Otis, 9 yo Lab Mix With CCL/ACL Surgeries, 2012 and 6/2013 Lame and Painful

Hi my name is Debi. My dog Otis is a mix breed. Lab, shepherd and maybe some boxer or pit. He is 70lbs and 9 years old. He had his first acl surgery last year and his second in June. It was one year between surgeries almost to the day. It took some time last year but we got him to about 85% normal when the other knee blew. We are now about 3 months post op on the second knee and we try to walk a half to a mile each day. Where I live there are some pretty steep hills so we go slow and try to combine hills and flat areas. He has been doing very well over all but in the last couple of weeks he has been chewing on his backside just above his tail. He hasn’t had skin issues or hot spots before so I assume this is a sign that he is having some pain. He is one rimadyal 100mg per day. I am changing joint supplements since he refuses to take what I have. He isn’t on any other prescription pain medication. It is very difficult to sneak pills past him. I am wondering if I should put him back on a low dose pain medication. I am also wondering how much is too much or too little when walking him to rehabilitate the knee. He favors the leg if he is standing and does walk with a slight limp and does a “skip” when he tries to pick up his pace. It’s obvious he still hurts but he meets me at the door and is still wanting to play with our small dog.And he is always excited and willing to go walking. We do keep him contained with regard to free movement. No running, jumping or rough housing with the little dog and all outside activities are on leash. Any suggestions for pain management and a recovery program would be greatly appreciated. I am also on a very fixed income. Thank you for your time. Debi


  • (from my email reply in October)
    I read your note a couple of times, and after some thought, I really, really want you to get my rehab book…very inexpensive…and start at week two after reading the whole thing through.
    The book only covers the first four weeks, but it answers all your questions, and the first thing I’d have you do if I saw you and your pup in person is just what I just said :)
    I’d also probably discuss pain meds with your vet, but you aren’t in my area, are you?

    Here is the link for the book, and I promise if you take your time and start there…even though it’s been quite a while, that is the same thing I’d tell you to do, based on what you wrote in your note, if I saw y’all in person.
    Trust me.
    After surgery for torn knee ligament:




  • Debi wrote:  Deborah, Thank you so much for your reply. I have the book. Bought it right after I sent you the message. Great minds think alike I guess. I wasn’t sure where to start so I will start at week 2 and see how it goes. What would the symptoms be if the pain was caused by an infection?  Or is that something I should be concerned about this late in his recovery (3 months)? I will get started tomorrow. Once again thank you so much and Otis thanks you too! Debi
  • I live in Washington. I found your website while searching for rehab information for the acl surgery. I can’t tell you how much better I feel about going forward with rehab for Otis. I feel like I have a starting place and an idea of what to do and watch for. That is far more help then I have gotten. I’ve had several dogs over the years but this little guy has my total heart.  Thank you so much! Debi

RehabDeb responded:

Thank you-

You are the reason I have squeezed out the time to make the Kindle and now the print versions available. And I have a lot more to publish, so managing time is always a fun sport 🙂

I don’t know of any veterinarian or rehab friends I have in your area, so I don’t think I can help you there…unless someone moved and I just didn’t get word.


I highly recommend you read the whole book through, twice, and catch anything you missed, since you are having issues so long with Otis. Surprising what people miss the first time or even the second time through the info.

It’s the basic edition, just 4 weeks of work, but it covers the most problematic time for the animals.

Also, like I said on FB, watch that massage video twice and start doing that. It’s on my website and also on FB under videos (I think). Watch twice. You can get the massager at CVS or here:



Debi wrote:

Will do on both re reading the book and checking out the video. We did 3 short walks yesterday and 2 so far today. Shooting for 4 short walks spread out over the day. If you know anything about Washington it is hard to find a flat place to walk. I am using the short dead end street across from my house. It has a slant but not a steep hill. We are taking it slow. Started him back on tamadol today 25 mg 3 times a day along with rimadyl and joint supplement. I have a call into a new vet to see about changing to the gabapentin. I’m sure that will require a full exam (costly for a single mom on a small income. But the surgery was expensive. I’m not going to spend all that money and then blow the rehab!) Any way that will give me a chance to talk about possible infection etc. I feel bad for taking up so much of your time at not cost to me. But as I said I would do anything for my guy and you’ve been an invaluable resource. Have a great day! Debi

RehabDeb responded:

Another thing I’d get local clients started on is an anti-inflammatory diet, because so many foods cause inflammation, especially when there is already an injury…then the inflammation can go straight to the injury site, too.

I talk to my clients about using Wellness Core kibble and eliminating the treats altogether. Most of the animals I see are carrying too much fat, especially to be injured or challenged physically. Get off all treats and use kibble as a treat. Use Wellness Core canned food to give medicine if you have to. Get away from peanut butter, pill pockets, etc…If you dont’ have access to buy Wellness Core, try another grain-free food. Grains produce a lot of inflammation and are far too difficult for dogs or us or cats and a variety of other mammals to digest. So, the reason to get off of them is to help with the inflammation and to lose fat…too many starches in a grain-based food. Look up the Purina Body Score chart and aim for 4.5. If he’s carrying too much fat, first change the food and eliminate treats. He should lose the fat slowly. Don’t go by numbers on a weight scale…it’s never going to help nor is it going to be accurate for lifestyle, especially since injury almost always brings about muscle atrophy from disuse, and the usual medical weight scale doesn’t differentiate. Muscle weight vs fat weight makes a big difference…



Debi says:

Deborah, Great suggestions. I’ve always been pretty strict with weight since I know that takes years off a dog’s life and I want my kids around as long as possible. This is why walking is so important. We had quite a workout going before he injured himself and I want to regain as much of that as I can. I do have to keep in mind that he is 9 years old.

I just checked out grain free foods at our local store. Thanks for a brand name. It gets pretty overwhelming and expensive especially when giving a couple of prescriptions and supplements. As far as treats. I will have to ween them off (I also have a 12 lb Chihuahua weenie dog) Otis is so difficult when it comes to meds. He figures out the trick within a day or two and I have to think of something new. That’s why antibiotics 3 times a day is not a fun prospect. We did that right after surgery along with the pain meds. By the end we were using a pill shooter straight down his throat. It took 2 of us to get it done. He was so over it by the end he actually growled at me once. Poor baby. At least the tramadol is small and I’m only giving him half ever 4 to 6 hours. I will try the canned food. No guarantee it will work.

We will see what a food change, slow rehab and pain meds do for getting him on his feet. I will do whatever I need to… I would never give him up to a shelter just because it got difficult or expensive. A dog is a life long commitment just like my human kid. Thank you for your time and suggestions.  Debi


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