TPLO Surgery For Dogs: Post Surgery Step-by-Step Guide

You’ve researched, talked to your vet, and decided the best course of action for your dog's torn CCL is TPLO surgery. While we know this decision did not come lightly, here are a few tips to make post-TPLO Surgery a little easier on both of you.

What Is TPLO Surgery?

Watching your dog experience pain is heartbreaking, especially if that pain causes loss of mobility and lameness in a leg. Your dog may be experiencing a ruptured CCL, and your dog’s vet has probably recommended a TPLO surgery. 

TPLO surgery changes the biomechanics of the knee, bypassing the CCL using a metal plate and screws. While any surgery sounds terrifying, TPLO surgery is fairly common. With the right recovery plan, your furry best friend will be back to their normal spunky self in no time.

Pre-Surgery Prep

While the TPLO surgery has a great recovery rate at over 90% and less than a 5% chance of serious complication, there are ways to help your dog have an easier recovery. 

Let’s face it, after surgery, the only thing you and your dog will want to do is snuggle. Prepping your house and dog beforehand will give you time to give them the extra TLC they will need, especially in the first week of recovery. 

Prepare House

After surgery, your dog will not be able to move freely around the house. Keeping them in a small area with non-slippery floors will help with excessive movement. 

Make sure it’s an area they can be comfortable in where there are no temptations to jump up on a couch, climb stairs, or run around. Block off any stairs and lock all doggie doors. Even though you will be supervising, boredom sets in after the first couple of days, so it's best to keep any potential risks off-limits.

Preparing Your Furry Patient

There are ways to comfort your dog during this time. Staying calm in front of your pet is crucial. You are their leader, easier said than done, but you need to show them how to react. 

Another way to make your dog less anxious, make sure your dog is comfortable in its new surroundings when making preparations in the home. If you decide to keep them in a room that is not their normal lounging spot, give them the extra comfort they will need to help them adjust. 

Put their favorite bed, blanket, or toys in there to help them get more comfortable before healing post-surgery.

Coming Home and The First Two Weeks

The first few days after surgery, your furry patient will be a little out of it. Not only will they be coming off of the anesthesia, but the vet will have prescribed pain medication. Get in those extra furry snuggles. Just like our dogs give us love and support, they need it from us too. 

Veterinarian's Orders

Make sure to follow the vet’s medication directions to the T, as this will help with recovery and keep your dog comfortable. The vet will likely send you home with a list of recovery dos and don'ts. 

One of these may be to ice the area for the first week or so. Frozen peas work great since they can mold to the area. Fifteen-minute increments throughout the day are usually preferred. 

If things don’t seem right or if you have questions, give your vet a call. They will put you at ease or have you come in to double-check anything out of the ordinary.

Food

With the reduced mobility of surgery, you can slightly reduce the amount of food you would normally give your dog. 

Adding in a joint supplement can help to aid in recovery and the health of your dog joints and reduce inflammation. Many WINPRO Pet customers have used our Hip & Joint or Recovery supplements to aid their dogs after TPLO surgery. Check out the product reviews here

Cone of Shame

Ah, the cone of shame, dogs hate it, but it is a necessary evil. (Let's be honest, cone of shame pictures are some of the cutest!) 

While the E-cone is the favorite among veterinarians, there are alternatives. The most important thing to remember, if choosing an option, is the central role of the E-cone is to make sure the surgical site is not messed with, as this can cause infection at the site. 

Leash

Make sure to keep a leash on your dog at all times unless they are in a crate. You want to make sure they cannot go too far from you or start getting bursts of energy, as that can slow their healing process.

Too much activity at this time can hinder the healing process. If your dog is not crate trained, it may be a good idea to hold the leash while you sleep to make sure they are not out exploring during the night.

Potty Breaks

While movement should be limited, walks to go to the bathroom are encouraged. You may have to assist them with going potty. Squatting or lifting a leg can prove painful in the beginning. You can use a towel as a harness for their backend to help them get around if needed. A little weight is good, as it does help to strengthen the bones and muscles. 

As the days go by, your dog should be able to put more weight on the affected leg and need less and less help to do everyday things, like going to the bathroom and getting up to eat. 

Week Two and Beyond

After the second week, you will start to see more of your pup’s personality coming back. They will want to start doing more, but make sure to heed your vet’s advice. 

Even though you both want to get out there and play fetch, don't go too fast. Having frozen treats or slow feeders can help reduce boredom throughout the day. 

Heat

Your vet may recommend switching to heat after the first week or so. Moist heat is the most beneficial, as it penetrates faster, allowing for better healing. 

You can accomplish this by heating a washcloth with warm water and wringing it out. Make sure it is not too hot. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog.

Walks

Around this time, you can start incorporating more walks. It’s been advised to start slow so you don’t overwhelm your dog. Five-minute walks close to the house are a good gradient to get back into activity. Slowly move up from five minutes. Avoid steep stairs where possible as it can be tough for your dog to climb.

Water Aerobics

With your veterinarian's approval, water is a great way to build back muscle post-surgery. It also helps with weight management after a lack of movement.

Post-Op Appointments

Even if you think your four-legged friend is doing fine, don’t miss any scheduled appointments. 

At the post-op appointments, the vet will take scans of the surgical site to make sure it is healing properly, look at the outside to ensure there is no infection, and check your dog’s overall health. Once the vet sees how well your dog has healed, they will give you the green light to get back to normal, thanks to all your love and care.

Back to Normal

TPLO Surgery may sound a little scary, but with our tips for getting through, your dog will be on the other side and back to its normal, playful self. 

At WINPRO Pet, your dog's health is our mission. We offer supplements to keep your furry best friend the happiest and healthiest they can be. 

 

Sources:

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease and the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) | (missouri.edu)

Cone of Shame Alternatives | PetMD

Moist Heat or Dry Heat for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness | (nih.gov)