If you are considering Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery for your dog, our West Salem vets explain the procedure and what you can expect as your pup recovers.
What is TPLO Surgery?
If your dog has torn their cranial cruciate ligament (the CCL, similar to the ACL in humans), you might want to consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) for your pooch. This common orthopedic procedure has been proven to be a very effective long-term solution for addressing this injury. The procedure's positive results and quick recovery time contribute to its popularity.
After this surgery, the dynamics in your dog's knee will be changed so the torn ligament is not needed. Since a dog's knee is constantly bent at about 110 degrees, it takes on tension, or load, which makes it susceptible to injury. Torn cranial cruciate ligaments are the most common orthopedic injury in dogs.
A torn CCL is very painful for any pooch, as the femur will rub against the back of the tibia, causing inflammation and discomfort. Chances are, your dog will not be eager or able to put any weight o the leg that's been injured.
While our vets do not perform TPLO or other orthopedic surgeries, we are able to examine pets and make referrals to specialists if required.
During the surgery, the bone will be cut and the tibial plateau 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 backwards. Most importantly, the knee will be stabilized as a result of the procedure.
The CCL ligament is no longer needed, and your dog will be able to use the stable joint again. You'll have some factors to weigh if you are considering TPLO surgery. Think about your dog's:
- Weight and size
- Activity level (Calm? Extremely active? In between)
- Post-surgery care and recovery
- Health (Does he or she have any joint diseases or other issues?)
TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs: What to Do & What to Avoid
While every dog will be different, the first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are a critical period. 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 are 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 to 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 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 operation, your dog will need activity, too. As he recovers, he’ll appreciate a few new toys and attention from doting 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.