If your dog has experienced a tear in their CCL then the only option that they may have is Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery. In this post, our Grass Valley vets explain TPLO surgery for dogs and what it is used to treat as well as some information about the procedure and recovery.
TPLO Surgery For Dogs
If your canine companion has suddenly experienced an injury to their cranial cruciate ligament (the CCL, similar to the ACL in humans), your vet will most likely recommend TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) for your dog. This common orthopedic procedure is a very effective long-term solution for addressing this injury, and its popularity is due to its positive results and quick recovery time.
After this surgery, the dynamics of your dog’s knee will be altered so the torn ligament isn’t required. 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 most likely notice that your dog is not willing to put much or any weight on the affected limb.
What Happens During TPLO Surgery For 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. One of the main focuses of this procedure is to stabilize 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 for your dog, here are some factors to weigh such as:
- 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
What To Expect During TPLO Surgery For Dogs
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. There are some things that you should pay close attention to through the recovery process such as:
- 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 are known to want to get back to doing all of the activities that they did prior to injury as soon as it begins to feel better so it is important to continue to restrict their activity until it is fully healed.
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 jumped after TPLO surgery may sustain serious injuries, and suffer setbacks in recovery.
Your vet will most likely remove the stitches around 8 weeks post-op as long as the healing is going well.
What To Do If Your Dog Experiences Complications
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.
Similar to people recovering from operations, your dog will need activity, too. As he recovers, he’ll appreciate a few new toys and attention from his 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.