If your dog is experiencing a painful condition affecting their CCL (ACL) or suffered an injury then they may require surgery. Today, our Oceanside vets discuss TPLO surgery in dogs, when it may be needed and what to expect while your dog is recovering.
What is TPLO Surgery For Dogs?
If your pooch has torn his cranial cruciate ligament (the CCL, similar to the ACL in humans), you may want to consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery for your dog. This common orthopedic procedure is a very effective long-term solution for injuries such as this in dogs, especially with a fairly quick recovery time.
After this surgery, the dynamics of your dog’s knee will be altered so the torn ligament isn’t required. Because a dog’s knee is constantly bent at about 110 degrees, it takes on load, or tension, leaving it vulnerable to injury. This makes torn cranial cruciate ligaments one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.
For a dog, a torn CCL is very painful since the femur will rub against the back of the tibia, causing discomfort and inflammation. Chances are, your dog will not be eager or able to put any weight on the injured leg.
The TPLO Surgical Procedure
During the surgery, the bone will be cut so the tibial plateau can be rotated where the tibia and femur work together. Part of the tibia will be removed and repositioned, so the femur won’t be able to slide backward. Most importantly, this procedure stabilizes the knee.
The CCL ligament is no longer needed, and your dog will have use of the stable joint again. If you are considering TPLO surgery, here are some factors to weigh. Here are some factors to consider for your dog:
- Weight and size
- Health and pre-existing conditions
- Activity level
- Post-surgery care and recovery
TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs: What to Do & What to Avoid
Recovery is different for each and every dog, but the first 12 weeks are very important to the healing process. Full recovery may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. Recovery time may partly depend on your dog’s size, age and breed.
Though a bone graft will be secured in place by a plate and screws, your pup will still need healing time following surgery. During this recovery phase, you should:
- Allow the anesthesia time to wear off
- Pay diligent attention to surgical areas, keeping them clean, covered and protected from infection
- Restrict physical activity to allow bones time to heal, but follow any exercise routines recommended by your vet
Remember that preventing infection and restricting physical activity during your dog’s recovery period is vital to their health at this time. Dogs tend to heal quickly (or think they are healing quickly!) and want to get back to physical activity. However, he could be raring to go before his body is fully recovered.
While it’s on-leash walks for a few minutes at a time may be advisable, avoid high-intensity activities such as jumping, running and playing with other dogs. You’ll even want to avoid steep stairs.
Though you can likely leave your dog unattended during the day to go to work or school, he or she will still require bathroom breaks and exercise to prevent stiffness.
Avoid leaving your dog alone around other dogs or animals during the recovery period, as a dog that has jumped after TPLO surgery may sustain serious injuries, and suffer setbacks in recovery.
By the eighth week, if recovery has progressed sufficiently, the vet may be able to remove the stitches.
Potential Complications & What You Can Do
Though there are typically no complications involved with recovery from TPLO surgery, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian upon noticing any of these symptoms:
- Inflammation or infection at the incision site
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Refusing to put any weight on recovering leg
- Sensitivity to pain medications
- Widely varying eating and drinking habits
- Constipation due to medication, healing or change in activity
- Missing staples in stitches
If you are noticing any of the above concerning signs in your dog you should contact your vet to have your pooch examined to ensure no further complications.
Your dog will appreciate a little extra love, kindness and maybe a new toy during their recovery, just as you would!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.