Has your dog suffered from a torn ligament either from an accident or just running around? Surgery may be recommended in order to get your pup playing again. Today, our Egg Harbor Township vets share some important information about TPLO surgery for a torn cranial cruciate ligament and what to expect during recovery.
TPLO Surgery For Torn Ligaments
If your dog has sustained an injury affecting their CCL (which behaves as an ACL does in humans), you may want to consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). This common orthopedic surgery is a very effective long-term solution for addressing this injury and is highly recommended thanks to its large success rate and the quick recovery time that comes along with it.
This surgery will change the ways your dog's knee behaves which makes removes the issue stemming from the torn ligament. Because a dog’s knee is constantly bent at about 110 degrees, it takes on load, or tension, leaving it vulnerable to injury. Torn cranial cruciate ligaments are the most common orthopedic injury 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. You will likely notice that your dog is no longer placing any weight on the injured leg.
Procedures to Help Repair CCL Injuries in Dogs
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. The surgery will result in a fully stabilized knee allowing your dog to get back to moving as usual.
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. Some aspects of your dog to consider are::
- Weight and size
- Health (Does he or she have any joint problems or diseases?)
- Activity level (How active is your dog usually?
- Post-surgery care and recovery
What to Expect During Recovery after TPLO Surgery
The rate at which each dog heals will be different but you can expect a critical first 12 weeks no matter what. 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. Here are some of the things to consider during recovery:
- 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
In order to help your dog heal well, you will need to ensure that they rest well and that they are unable to jump or excessively play. 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.
Your vet will likely remove any stitches that your dog has during their 8-week check-up.
What are the potential complications of TPLO surgery?
Complications from TPLO surgery will be rare but you should always monitor for the following 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 your dog displays any of these signs, your veterinarian can be a valuable resource - they may be able to diagnose the problem and recommend an effective solution.
Similar to people recovering from an operation, your dog will need activity, too. As he recovers, he’ll appreciate a few new toys and attention from the family.
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.