many of my friends & fans were delighted to meet coconut bean the chihuahua. coconut has been through a lot in her short time with our family, but she's on track to become a healthy, happy little bean.
we knew coconut needed to have her knees looked at when we decided to take her into our home. she was originally purchased from a pet store in nyc and started having issues walking at around a year old. coconut's owner was unable to provide for surgical intervention and loved her dog enough to find her a home that could.
after a few days in our home it became clear walking was a challenge and she wasn't able to play with me or louis without pain. the Humane Society of New York just so happened to have their visiting orthopedic surgeon in that very week! we lucked out and are SO grateful to them for helping coconut so quickly.
coconut's diagnosis was a double grade 4 patella luxation on her rear legs and a cruciate ligament injury in her rear right leg. x-rays revealed abnormally curved hip bones, predisposing coconut to luxation and injury. hidden illness and congenital deformities are the norm with pups purchased from pet stores. remember, 99% of all dogs sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, where they breed dogs for profit without regard to the parent or pup's health. according to the chihuahua club of america, patella luxation is always genetic. (this is where i get fired up and need to remind everyone that we MUST educate our friends & family to STOP supporting puppy mills via pet stores or purchasing pets online. pet stores = suffering for puppies & parents. ok. rant over.)
the surgeon decided to operate on coconut's injured leg that same day, with a longer term plan to address the second leg. so, after just five days with our family, coconut went into surgery. the days following the operation were a little rocky. after all, coconut didn't know us well, she was scared and in pain. coconut now has some pins in her leg to keep everything stable over the long term. she's a bionic bean!
slowly but surely, coconut started to heal and we started to see her playful, cuddly personality. we took her to the hamptons to spend some time healing by the beach (the ocean air really does a dog good!) and she continued to become more active and we could see a marked difference in her pain.
after a few weeks of healing, coconut was cleared to begin physical therapy with the goal of increasing flexibility, strength and to prepare her for more surgery. we were also told she needed to lose a little weight. keeping off excess weight is important for all dogs, but especially important for dogs with orthopedic issues. we're proud to share that coconut is now a lean 4.2 lbs, down from 5.5 lbs when we took her in.
eight weeks after surgery, coconut is feeling good! she's completed 6 weeks of physical therapy and her next surgery is scheduled for october.
we've gotten a lot of questions on instagram about the surgery and healing and want to help our friends dealing with these issues:
my dog needs patella surgery and i'm nervous about the pain after. how bad was it?
not gonna sugar coat this. the first few days sucked. no one slept much. the pain medications did manage her overall pain and most of the challenge was that she was disoriented and had a hard time using the bathroom. also, for coconut, BOTH her hind legs need surgery, so she was unable to use one leg and balancing on another bum leg. ouch!
what is the after care like?
we were provided with pain management medications and antibiotics to prevent infection. coconut wore a medical cone for two weeks to protect the incision. we were instructed to keep her confined to a small area to limit movement and to NEVER allow her to jump or run.
the incision looked pretty scary to us at first but quickly scabbed over. the biggest surprise to us was how quickly she seemed to improve. she stayed very, very sensitive for two weeks, after four weeks our biggest challenge was keeping her quiet and after six weeks, she's been actively playing and running (against doctor's orders!). we're doing our best to keep her quiet!
do you have to provide physical therapy after surgery?
our surgeon recommended physical therapy due the nature and severity of coconut's issues. since she'd been walking on an injury for a few years and had two bad legs, her center of gravity was off balance, her core muscles were weak and she had extremely limited flexibility. the goal of physical therapy was to address those issues to ensure that she has the best possible outcome from her surgeries. we worked with Water4Dogs in nyc and we'll do an in depth post on that soon.
please let us know if we can answer any more questions and we'll do our best to answer!