More Houston pets undergoing knee surgery

Torn ACLs are a painfully common injury in adults, and it turns out, it's also a common problem in our pets.

HOUSTON Torn anterior cruciate ligament surgeries are a painfully common injury in adults, and it turns out, it s also a common problem in our pets.

At one local veterinary hospital, doctors average 1,000 doggie ACL surgeries a year. That s more than anywhere else in the country. In many ways, the operation is almost exactly like the one for people.

At Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in the Galleria area, you ll find a top-of-the-line operating room with the best equipment and the doctors for man s best friend.

Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Wayne Whitney helped developed the arthroscopic knee surgery technique for dogs.

We turn on the suction and let it remove the tissue that is inflamed, he said as he wielded a scope inside a pet s leg.

His message: Early intervention is key to the best outcome, since dogs can develop severe arthritis issues.

Gulf Coast will do eight ACL surgeries here today alone, using the same state-of-art equipment from high-definition cameras to scopes that are used in the Texas Medical Center and the Houston Texans team.

The operation averages $4,000. Increasingly, owners who can do the operation have it done. Take Joel.

She s had four operations, two on each knee, said Owner Anne Peebles recalled.

Today a laser treatment helps reduce swelling and promote healing. It s all part of an impressive rehab program.

Another pet named Aggie was about two weeks post op and getting a workout on a water treadmill.

It supports 62 percent of their body weight. At same time water resists their movement, Physical Therapist Nancy Doyle explained. It used to be 50 years ago after a dog was limping, you maybe didn t pay attention to it and had a three-legged dog and renamed it tripod for the rest of his life, but now our dogs are family members.

Aggie s owner Trish Sellers agreed and had ACL surgery herself last year.

She stood by my side and was very faithful to me so we had to get her corrected, she said.

In the meantime, Chelsea, another animal, was training like a champ. In a hallway she trotted over a series of small hurdles. Eighteen months after surgery, therapists could document her improvement.

We take girth measurements before and after surgery, said Sal Zambrano.

Therapists recommend six weeks of rehabilitation with visits twice a week. That s about $1,100. It really is the kind of care you would give a family member.

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