Dog knee injury surgery is no walk in the park. Proper preparations must be done before and after the procedure to ensure your dog’s swift and complete recovery.
Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) is a procedure for treating ACL tears in dogs, a common knee injury. This osteotomy-based treatment decreases the slope of the tibial plateau to increase mobility. The procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour to finish, depending on the severity of your dog’s condition.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide about your dog’s TPLO surgery by providing everything you need to know, from getting an appropriate diagnosis and identifying symptoms to pre-and-post-surgery care.
Signs of a ruptured cruciate ligament
A torn cruciate ligament can cause extreme pain to dogs, which may lead to mild lameness if your dog can’t put any weight on its leg. As a pet owner, it’s essential to be hands-on with your dog to see if there’s anything wrong so you can address it immediately. Thus, if you notice any of the following signs, make sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Stiffness when getting up and down
- Swelling in the knee
- Mild to severe limping
- Back leg pain
- Unusual walking
Moreover, keep in mind that some dog breeds are more susceptible to experiencing a torn cruciate ligament than others, such as:
- German shepherd
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
Dogs who rarely get into physical activity and those diagnosed with obesity are also more likely to have damaged cruciate ligament.
Getting a diagnosis
A TPLO surgery is best done once the injury has been identified. The orthopedic surgeon will determine the degree of instability in your dog’s knee. Your dog can undergo a radiological assessment to calculate the angle of its tibial slope. Additional x-rays are also helpful for checking existing lesions.
The orthopedic surgeon can plan the surgery after gathering the following details:
- Extent of damage
- Degree of slope correction needed
- Size of surgical plate
After getting a proper diagnosis, you may ask your surgeon about the different stages of a TPLO surgery and what to expect in the days to follow.
A torn cruciate ligament can happen through a sudden injury or slow development. Regardless of the nature of this condition, ACL is extremely painful for dogs, so it can lead to progressive degenerative arthritis if not addressed immediately. Upon diagnosis, ask your veterinarian for the best treatment option, like TPLO surgery.
Dr. Avi Bechar, an expert in veterinary medicine, suggests that cruciate ligament surgery for dogs is another excellent option, depending on the needs and situation of your canine.
Here are a few things you need to prepare for your dog’s TPLO surgery:
Your dog will inevitably try to get up and move around after surgery. Get your pet a dog gate or large crate to limit its activity and prevent damaging the incision. Ensure that your companion has a comfortable area to relax that is still within your view and access to prevent feel isolated.
You may also need to modify the stairs and steps of your home so your dog won’t strain its affected leg as much as it moves around the house. Ramps or smaller steps are simple installations to help your dog can take it easy during recovery.
Invest in helpful Items
Recovery from a TPLO surgery can take months and can be a tedious period for your dog. You can help your dog keep its mind off its injury by distracting them using interactive various toys or a stuffed Kong. These items can keep their teeth busy instead of them trying to lick their wounds. You can also purchase a device like a GingerLead support sling to help support your dog when he walks.
Post-surgical care is just as critical as the preparations you do before your dog’s procedure. Here are a few tips pet owners can do after their dog’s TPLO procedure:
Adjust their food intake
You must adjust your dog’s diet to help him recover fast and properly.
Pet owners also must consider the nutritional content of the treats they give their dogs. While it is essential to have a high-protein diet, extra calories could lead to excessive weight gain, putting additional stress on healing joints. You can ask your veterinarian for specific guidelines regarding your dog’s diet as it recovers from TPLO surgery.
Gradually return to activity
During the first two weeks of recovery, your dog will still have sutures that are sensitive to sudden and extreme movement. Thus, avoid any outdoor trips with your dog and limit physical activity to potty breaks. Once the stitches have healed, you can slowly introduce some movements to your dog.
Recovery doesn’t mean total inactivity. Instead, it means doing light and gentle exercises and slowly increasing their duration and difficulty. You can start doing short leash-assisted walks with your dog for a few minutes daily to keep their muscles and joints moving. Avoid high-impact activities such as making your dog go up steep stairs or climb on furniture.
Play brain games
It can get pretty dull for your dog as it stays inside the crate all day. Do interactive games with your dog or give him puzzle toys to stimulate his mind instead of focusing on physical play. You can use a leash to have better control over your dog in case they get overly excited. It’s also a great idea to praise and reward them with little treats.
You can play the following games with your dog during recovery:
- Sniff and search — Encourage your dog to use his nose to search for food. Hide the treat in a nearby area that won’t tire them that much.
- Fetch — Play a simple game of fetch inside the house using a soft toy.
- “Which hand?” game — Hide a treat in one hand and keep the other hand empty so your dog can guess where your treat is.
Prevent your dog from licking the wound
Your dog will instinctively lick its wound. This can cause infections around and on the incision site. You should clean and replace the bandages as needed and prevent your dog from licking the wound to help speed recovery.
You may provide your dog with post-care surgery products to lessen their contact with their wound. Lick Sleeve is a recovery sleeve device that provides total coverage for your dog’s hip down to its ankles. It enables the natural movement with its breathable and flexible fabric so your dog won’t mind its wound.
You can also use items like a soft recovery collar to keep your dog from licking its wound.
When to call your vet
No operation is entirely free from complications. Dog owners must keep an eye out for symptoms that may require veterinary attention, such as the following:
- Inflammation and infection at the incision site
- Refusal to put weight on recovering leg
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Changes in eating and drinking habits
- Damaged or missing sutures and staples
Help your dog recover after TPLO surgery
Be a prepared pet owner and know the process of a dog TPLO surgery. The recovery can be a daunting process, but this period is when your pet will need you the most. Give your dog the care need to help him return to near-normal condition.