Canine TPLO Recovery

Canine TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) surgery may be necessary if your dog has suffered a partial or complete tear of the ligaments in his knee. For the knee to fully recover post-surgery, your dog will need a recovery period that consists of two to three months.

TPLO Surgery

Dogs typically suffer knee injuries during work or play, but some dogs can be born with bad knees and have problems as puppies. If your dog limps or has difficulty putting pressure on his leg, especially after exercise, this may be caused by a knee injury. Your dog may be hesitant to run or jump and may sit with his knee straightened out to the side rather than tucked underneath.

The TPLO surgery consists of changing the angle of the shin bone by cutting it, rotating it and using plates and screws to stabilize it in the correct position. This surgery can be effective for both large and small dogs and has a quick recovery period in comparison to other surgeries.

As with all surgeries that require anesthetic, there are risks involved, so discuss those with your veterinarian before surgery. In some mild cases, dogs can recover with a few weeks of bed rest, so be sure to ask questions about the severity of the injury.

TPLO Recovery

Most dogs will not have to spend the night after surgery and will return home a few hours after surgery. Many can put pressure on their leg within 24 hours, but they will still need to be confined for several weeks. They should move around only for bathroom breaks and then immediately return to confinement.

After two weeks, most dogs can bear a moderate amount of weight on the leg and may be able to take very short walks after a bathroom break.

After six to eight weeks, your veterinarian will usually take a radiograph to observe the progress of the healing. At this time, they will make exercise recommendations if the leg is healing properly. At this time, you can usually begin to start your dog on an exercise regime of short loose-leash walks.

Slowly build up the length of the walks during the next few weeks beginning at around two months post-surgery. Start by adding several short walks, rather than increasing the distance of one long walk. Don't push your dog during this time.

By four months, your veterinarian will usually reduce exercise restrictions so your dog may begin to run and play a little. By six months, he can usually begin participating in working activities such as agility. Again, don't push your dog. Move slowly toward his old activity level.

Beating Boredom

To reduce boredom while your dog is in confinement, provide him with stuffed Kong toys or marrow bones, which can be filled with wet food, peanut butter, cream cheese and other treats. Freeze them to provide a greater challenge.

After the first two weeks, teach your dog a few tricks that can give him mental stimulation, such as guessing which hand your treat is in, touch, shake, roll a ball while lying down or others that don't require much movement. Such mental stimulation will help the "bed rest" pass more quickly.