West Kirby vet saves Labrador’s leg after freak injury

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Posted on 28th February 2023

A much-loved pet is fighting her way back to full fitness after a three-hour operation to repair a leg tendon torn in a freak accident which could have crippled her for life.

Amber the five-year-old Labrador was facing a severely debilitating injury or even amputation but vets at a West Kirby practice decided to go ahead with an operation to repair her damaged ankle joint.

It meant a full general anaesthetic for an operation at Acorn Veterinary Surgery while advanced certificate veterinary surgeon Nick Whieldon repaired and reconnect the damaged Achilles tendon in Amber’s rear left leg.

It was the kind of complicated operation Amber’s owners, anaesthetists Drs Craig and Kate Smith, will have seen many times but on humans – they work at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

Amber picked up the injury playing in their West Kirby garden with the couple’s four-year-old son, Myles, who threw a ball down some steps with Amber leaping after it but landing awkwardly.

Kate said: “Amber jumped after it and just started limping after landing and we could see the lower part of her leg had dropped and she couldn’t put weight on it.

“We took her to Acorn Vets and they’ve been brilliant. Nick’s been really good and done a fantastic job and Amber’s been having physio and is about 90 per cent back to full fitness.

“She had her op four weeks after the injury and has made a really good recovery so we’ve been giving her a bit of exercise in the woods near the house.

“She was a bit nervous when we first had her. She had been trained as a gun dog but she is lovely with the children.

“Nick and the team at Acorn have been brilliant and we’re very grateful to them.”

Nick, from Thornton Hough, who holds a veterinary surgical certificate, explained: “It was an uncommon injury. The joint, equivalent to a human ankle, had been extended and although the tendon hadn’t been completely severed it caused the joint to drop down.

“I had to drill holes through the top of the bone and pass suturing material through which can then pull the tendon, which connects the muscle to the joint, back into the bone.

“We also put screws through the joint and fitted a frame to the outside of Amber’s leg to immobilise the joint and she had to stay like that for six weeks,

“It was a complicated procedure but Amber has been a good patient and it’s gone very well and been a very good outcome because without it she would have been disabled for the rest of her life.”

Acorn Head of Practice Rhiannon Mansell said: “We’re really fortunate to have someone of Nick’s skills at the practice because he can perform advanced surgery which this case required.

“Our staff are also trained to be able to deliver general anaesthetics which makes this kind of complex surgery possible and ensures that much-loved pets like Amber can return to their families and make a good recovery.

“Without this complicated procedure being performed Amber would have suffered severe muscle wastage and suffering with the likelihood of arthritis and or amputation.

“With Nick here pets can have treatment all in one place and in fact we get pets referred to us and take referrals because he is so skilled and it also shows the value of pet insurance to cover cases like this.”

Acorn Vets is a member of Willows Veterinary Group, part of VetPartners, and offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise through a network of 23 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, an equine hospital and a farm practice, located across Cheshire and into Greater Manchester, North Wales, the Wirral and Staffordshire. Willows is accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

For self-referrals to Acorn Vets go to www.wirralvets.co.uk and for more information about Willows Veterinary Group, go to www.willowsvetgroup.co.uk or Facebook @WillowsVetGroup.