Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Libby's Knee Surgery

Meet Libby: the picture of cuteness. Or as I call her affectionately, "rat". lol

On Tuesday, my parents little Yorkie, Libby, underwent her first knee surgery. My parents found out from Libby's vet, whom my parents have been going to with our pets for over 15 years, informed my parents after they purchased Libby that she would have trouble with her knees. Toy breeds tend to have a problem with their back legs - their knee caps move. It's called luxating patellas. The vet then informed my parents that it cost $1,500 per leg.

I'll wait until you're able to replace the jaw that just dropped onto the floor.

Yes, you read that right. In total, it was going to cost my parents $3000 to fix Libby's knees. When Dad first heard that, he said, "I can live with a bow-legged dog."

Libby didn't start having issues with her knees until about a month or so ago, when my mom signed her up for puppy training class at the Petsmart in Redding. They evidently have a concrete/tile floor and Libby couldn't catch her footing on the floor. Suddenly, Libby's knee caps start moving. Once Dad witnessed it, he couldn't stand it. Neither  Mom. Neither could I. In the beginning the knee cap would right itself and she could use her leg. But she stopped jumping on everything (and everyone). She stopped trying to stand up on her hind legs. It eventually got so bad (in only a month) that her left hind leg (the worst one) wasn't usable. And the right one is barely usable.

Mom asked me if I could ask Dr. J at my vet clinic what it would cost up here for such a surgery. Obviously I said yes. So the next time I saw him, and I told him the problem with poor Libby's knees, and asked him what he would quote my parents. I also asked him if the clinic had done many surgeries on luxating patellas. He quoted $500 per leg, and said that they do several, and in fact had already done a few this year.

Did you notice the price difference? Perhaps an employee discount was wedged in there, but either way, my clinic was one third the price of the vet in Redding. Now, I'm not necessarily dogging the Redding vet because I used to work for him; he was my first vet clinic job. However, the price difference is outrageous.

I schedule the surgery date and Dr. J promised he would do it - bum arm and all (he's still in a sling after his quading accident). Dad drove up on Monday, and Dr. J popped in on his day off to not only load a shipment of cattle mineral, but to also so take a quick peek at Libby. I met Dad at the clinic, and Dr. J watched Libby walk around (by this time it was more like waddling), and felt her back legs and confirmed, "she has medial luxating patellas." Meaning, her knee caps had moved to the inside of her leg. He explained the surgery and even drew a diagram for us - which Dad took home to show Mom. Basically, the knee cap is supposed to sit in a small groove on the end of the femur (thigh bone). Libby's femurs don't appear to have that little groove, so those knee caps have nothing to help hold them in place. So what Dr. J was going to do was cut a groove at the end of the femur for the knee cap, and then run a stitch around the knee cap and tie the stitch to a bit of knobby bone that is there naturally to hold the knee cap in place permanently. Once that's healed up in about two months, she can have the other knee done.

Now he did say that Libby hasn't been in any pain, that it's a mechanical problem that a lot of toy breeds have developed. That because her knee cap has moved, the support structure doesn't work, so her leg can't be used to stand on.

Dr. J did the surgery on Tuesday morning, and called me just before 10am to let me know everything went well and to, "let your pops know". Libby stayed a total of two nights at the vet's office, and Dad picked her up this morning to take her home. As I type this, she's sitting on Mom's lap at home, and according to Mom, Libby does not like taking her meds at all. (She was sent home with a pain med and an anti-inflammatory med).

The bonus to Dad driving 3 hours to get Libby's surgery done for less? I got to have dinner with him twice.


  1. Did you get to have that pizza you were craving??

  2. Aww poor Libby! But thankfully she's on the mend and that you got done for less money :)

  3. Poor Libby. Hope she recovers quickly and becomes a better patient taking her pain meds. Yay for getting to see your father more though. :)

  4. Poor libby :9 I'm glad she wasn't in any pain! I can't believe the price difference.. 2k is ALOT of money to be saving by using a different vet

    I love how this ends too, this: The bonus to Dad driving 3 hours to get Libby's surgery done for less? I got to have dinner with him twice.

    made me smile :) xx

  5. I love Yorkies :-) It's sad so many "pure breeds" have these problems. Yep, had to pick up my jaw when I saw what the Redding vet had quoted for the surgery - ridiculous! Good that your boss was able to do it for less.

    Hope Libby is feeling better soon :-)

  6. That is messed up! Hope she heals okay.

  7. BFF - HAHA yes, I did! The Italian place in Alturas has decent pizza.

    Hazel - My parents were thrilled to find out it could be done for less!

    Jewels - haha, I doubt Libby will get better at taking those meds.

    Charlotte - I know, when the vet told me what he'd charge, MY jaw dropped. LOL He wasn't too shocked at the other price though when I told him.

    Cat - When my mom first told me it would $1500, I thought it was for BOTH legs!

    CWMartin - I agree! Sounds like she's starting to use that leg pretty well now!

  8. Wow what a price difference, def worth a the extra miles and the lunch/dinner with you. Thats awesome, hope the pup feels better soon, such a cutie! :)

  9. Libby is ADORABLE! I had a Yorkie growing up so I'm very fond of the breed. I'm so glad that her surgery went well, and hope she is all recovered now. =)

  10. Awww, little Libby!!!! I want to hug that cutie pie!!! And what an amazing price difference! I've read that city prices are usually higher than elsewhere, but, wow, that's just insane!!!

    I'm so glad Libby is doing well!!! Sending get well soon wishes her way!!!


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