You Say Hip Dysplasia, I Say Knee Injury ... Forrest Gumbo's Story

This is a story from Dog Knee Injury website. Having gone through cruciate tear with Jasmine, twice, this topic is of special interest to me. Having your dog go through that is frustrating enough. But what if you couldn't even get it properly diagnosed and treated?

Don't ever hesitate to get a second opinion when things do feel right. There are conditions that are hard to diagnose and there are conditions that are hard to treat. Knee injuries, however, are not the case! Or at least they shouldn't be.


About 3 years ago, Forrest Gumbo, our approximately 3-year-old, healthy 45-pound pit bull that we adopted at 9 months old, the love of my life, was doing his usual figure 8 “zoomies” after one of our morning runs and he injured his right rear leg. He limped a little for a bit and always seemed to favor that leg, but he seemed “fine”, although he would hold his leg up every once in awhile, which was peculiar.

We saw a vet who did a quick x-ray, said he probably had a small tear, gave us some Deramaxx, advised me to start him on a Glucosamine Chrondriotin supplement, walk less and life went on. 

I tried to accept this but was saddened that my little man was not 100% and may never be.

After about a year and a half of shorter walks, a few pounds heavier, several different joint supplements, him seeming to become more aggravated in his behavior, not wanting to play much, not wanting to eat, getting him a new dog sister to play with, a trainer telling me “this dog is in severe pain”, and most importantly, holding that leg up often, I researched online and decided it was a cruciate tear.

I took him to supposedly one of the best orthopedic vets, who told me Forrest had hip dysplasia, was 5 pounds overweight, had possible arthritis, and recommended long-term Rimadyl.

I didn’t want to accept this and so I asked for his x-rays and took them to a holistic vet we had seen a few months before and whom we had started acupuncture with, plus she has really cool ideas that I agree with.

The x-rays were so fuzzy she couldn’t read them and I found out that, after leaving him ALL day at the traditional vet for the x-rays, they had not sedated him in order to properly x-ray an extremely tense dog, and had not even looked at his knee.

On to the next young, modern traditional vet who did sedate him and much NOT to my surprise his hips were absolutely perfect. 

Since I didn’t explicitly ask to x-ray his knees, even though I told her that I suspected a cruciate tear, there were again no knee x-rays.

At this point I started thinking:
  •     I am speaking another language to the vets
  •     I am crazy
  •     Probably he just doesn’t like his rambunctious 2-year-old rescued American Bulldog sister
  •     Nothing is orthopedically wrong and he is just a weird rescue dog with “phantom pain” as she described to me.

Really? Just keep doing Rimadyl and joint supplements… he lost a few pounds from eating home-made food plus the very best dry kibble. 

I almost started thinking he might have nerve damage or a slipped disc in his back. My husband, all this time, insisting something is wrong with his groin area…

Well, I decided to take Forrest to a behaviorist veterinarian because he is obviously insane; after all, he is a rescued pit bull.

She required all x-rays, medical records, etc. I stop by to pick up the x-rays and they had lost them! 

At this point I am losing all faith in traditional veterinarians, the vet I originally saw was on maternity leave and unavailable, so we left the office with the older, experienced vet offering to once again sedate him and re-x-ray. Since it was only his hips and I saw very clearly that he did not have anything wrong with them I figured this was unnecessary for the behaviorist vet.

Well, the next day I let him run really hard with another dog in our neighborhood because we so rarely see such joy in him anymore, and when I got home that night, he was dragging his back leg and could barely walk.

I looked at this as a sign from above and figured the more experienced vet was who we were meant to see. 

I asked that while he is sedated let’s get this straight for the last time – x-ray everything!

Guess what? He has a cruciate tear and needs surgery ASAP. 

What are my options? I work at an all natural pet supply store and I have talked (probably too much) to many people who’ve had the traditional repair as well as the TPLO done… what was best for my not small but not large dog?

I researched and saw that none of the surgeries are ever 100% so I chose the traditional repair. 

I was told “I’ve been doing this surgery for 30 years”. Sign us up, let’s get him better. Borrowed an extra large crate, got the cone of shame, and a few days later I am picking Forrest up with a horrible tape cast on his leg (which is not used by many vets anymore, so I am told and with good reason), some Tramadol, Rimadyl, no post-op instructions, and a “we’ll see you in 10 days to remove the bandage.”

The tape ripped his fur and skin off to where it was raw and all he wanted to do was lick it. 

I used Vetericyn to ward off infection and tried to use the cone when I wasn’t there myself to stop him from licking… oh, and LOTS of bones to distract him. By the time we got to the 10-day mark the nasty tape cast was almost off.

His sutures looked really good, though, and he was already using his leg so I thought he was well on his way to recovery… so why did everyone tell me that it took so much longer to recover? I was extremely careful not to let him run/jump, only walked him on his leash, allowing him to dictate the pace, even sent his nutty sister to doggy daycare so she wouldn’t pummel him, for about 6 weeks.

We tried to do range of motion exercises (recommended by the young vet) but he would get really tense and seemed like he was in pain; we bought an 8 foot pool to do hydrotherapy (recommended by the older vet) but he would just stand there in the water.

In between I took him to be seen by the vet a few times, and I was told he was “doing great” even though I felt like he was still limping too much and he was walking sideways

Did he re-injure it? Was it his left leg like I was told would probably be next due to overcompensating with that leg?

Some days he seemed okay. 

There we were, a week after the visit  where I was told “there is nothing wrong with his knees” and they even charged me for an office visit.

I was beginning to think maybe I was one of “those people” when they finally told me to go see the orthopedic surgeon at a very well-known referral office; yes, the same one who most of my customers recommended but I was too worried about offending my vets. In fact, on the way to the vet today he was standing up and hanging out the window like old times. I was hoping I would be told I was crazy.

A week later, he was diagnosed with a possible meniscal tear, a very probable (post-operative?) luxating patella, and a torn cruciate ligament. 

Forrest will be going for TPLO surgery along with arthroscopic surgery. I do not know what the days ahead will be like (except for working overtime to pay for this 2nd surgery since my veterinary pet insurance money allotted for this surgery was spent on the first surgery and they do not cover “congenital” health items such as a luxating patella).

I am worried about infection with the plate inserted in his skinny little legs, I’ve been warned that his left leg cruciate is also torn but I knew that, and we had already started ligament herbs and cold laser treatment with the holistic vet; I’m praying we can salvage that leg with CM, but I am also hopeful that I will once again see my sweet Forrest’s smile as he heals!


Mandie created Dog Knee Injury in response to the lack of informational resources available when her dog, Tucker, was diagnosed with a CCL tear in 2007.

Dog Knee Injury is a informational website dedicated to helping dog owners facing CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) injuries in their dogs.

The site contains varied information on many topics surrounding CCL tears and repair including various surgical options - TTA, TPLO, Tightrope, and traditional repair. Non-surgical options and conservative management techniques are also discussed, and numerous resources are available to help you decide what is best for you and your dog.

Since the founding of the website, the Dog Knee Injury community has provided support, advice and encouragement to thousands of owners dealing with dog knee ligament injuries. You can also find Dog Knee Injury on Facebook.

Related articles:
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
How The Oddysey Started: Jasmine's ACL Injury 
Talk To Me About ACL Injuries
ACL Injuries in Dogs: Non-Surgical Alternatives?
ACL Injuries in Dogs and Stem Cell Regenerative Therapy
Newest Surgery For Ruptured ACL In Dogs
Preventing ACL Injuries In Dogs
ACL Injuries In Dogs: Xena's Story 
ACL Injury Conservative Management: Sandy's Story
Surviving The Post-Op: After Your Dog's ACL Surgery
Talk to Me About Arthritis
Don't Forget the Physical Therapy 
My Love Is Sleeping At My Feet: ACL Surgery Complications 
Coco's TPLO Post-Op Diary 
Small Breeds Can Hurt Their ACL Too: Star's Naughty Knee 
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too 
ACL/CCL Injuries In Dogs: Is There Such a Thing As A False Positive Drawer Sign?
Dog Knee Injuries: Should You Say Yes To Pain Management? 


  1. This dog is adorable and so frustrating to read the post. Many questions come to mind: why wasn't post op PT recommended? Did the joint become septic? Why wasn't the meniscus released during the first surgery to prevent future problems? I hope the 2nd procedure goes well and for heaven's sake, be sure the Vet recommends a good PT or rehab practitioner to help things go smoothly and optimally!

    1. Extremely frustrating, I posted it as an example of one of the "worst case scenarios". I was climbing walls when I was reading that. It's disturbing that things can go this way even in this day.

      I am, personally, partial to leaving the meniscus alone when intact; I was glad that Jasmine's could have been left in there too. We never had any problems with the meniscus in either of her knees. If not damaged, I believe it is better that it is in, so it can do its job and help prevent arthritis ...?

  2. Definately agree that best to keep meniscus there, if it is not torn. Some surgeons I am familiar with prefer releasing the caudal or rear pole/portion of the medial meniscus for the best of both worlds: it is still present to help prevent arthritis, but some of the shearing forces on it are reduced to help prevent a future painful tear.

  3. i have a staffy lab mix. She is due to get xrays soon to rule out hip dysplasia and other knee problems but i do not think it is hip dysplasia as it is only on the left side and she has no trouble walking stairs or anything. Her degree varies with activity and the limp starts getting better depending on what she does. It started out as a terrible limp but with rest and therapy has gone down to a limp when she gets up and an awkward walk. She sits normlly, although I am skeptical of the sit test because a doctor that she saw performed the sit test and still leaned toward ccl partial tear. She sits normally. We have been dealing with this for a year so I am definitely excited and anxious about the xrays. She is intolerant of any NSAIDS or tramadol, so i do not think surgery will be an option for her. they cause her to have terrible bloody diarrhea, an anaphylactic response. I am looking to go to a brace because i do have stairs at my apartment. right now using orthodog brace but thinking about a more expensive custom brace although funds are tight. I am really just wanting her to go back to normal and be able to go out and play. she is only a yearling and full of life and energy. I have been doing conservative management for 1.5 mnths with slow results. any advice would be helpful

    1. Sorry about your pup having a hard time.

      There is no such thing as a "sit test" but it is used as an indicator of a problem. Though, there are dogs who sit funny and have no issues and dogs who sit normally and have problems.

      Hip dysplasia can be more pronounced in one hip than another; it's not automatically a symmetrical thing.

      So it could be hip(s), it could be knee(s), it could be muscle ... see what the vet says.

      If I were to use a knee brace, I'd go with Orthopets.

      Good luck at the vet; do let me know what the x-rays show.


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