Are you considering Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery for your dog? In this post, our Zeeland veterinarian will explain the procedure and what to expect as your pooch recovers.
What is TPLO Surgery?
If your dog has torn its Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL), TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) may be a good option.
This procedure effectively treats this common orthopedic injury and has a quick recovery time. TPLO alters the knee dynamics, so the torn ligament is no longer needed.
Torn CCLs are dogs' most common orthopedic injuries and can cause pain, discomfort, and inflammation as the femur rubs against the tibia. Your dog may also be unable to put weight on the injured leg
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. Think of your dog:
- Weight and size
- Health (does he or she have any joint problems or diseases?)
- Activity level (Extremely active? Calm? In between?)
- Post-surgery care and recovery
TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs: What to Do & What to Avoid
The first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are crucial for your pet's recovery, and full recovery may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months, varying based on your dog's size, age, and breed.
While the bone graft will be secured with a plate and screws, your dog will still need time to heal. During this recovery period, it is important to:
- 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 return to physical activity. However, he could be ready to go before his body fully recovers.
While 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 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.
Like people recovering from an operation, your dog will also need activity. He’ll appreciate a few new toys and attention from his doting family as he recovers.
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.