TPLO Surgery in Dogs

Are you considering Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery for your dog? In this post, our Stanwood vets explain the procedure and the do's and don'ts as your dog recovers.

What is TPLO Surgery?

If your dog has torn his cranial cruciate ligament (the CCL, similar to the ACL in humans), you may want to consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) for your dog. This common orthopedic procedure is a very effective long-term solution for addressing this injury. Its positive results and quick recovery time make it a popular solution.

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.

A torn CCL is very painful since the dog's femur will rub against the back of the tibia, causing discomfort and inflammation. 

Procedure

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. This procedure is used 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 things you will need to factor in are:

  • Weight and size of your dog
  • How old your dog is
  • Health (do they 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

Full recovery may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months but, the first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are a critical period. 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 dog 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 think they are healing quickly and want to get back to physical activity. 

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, they 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.

By the eighth week, if recovery has progressed sufficiently, the vet may be able to remove the stitches.

Potential Complications & What to Do

You will 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

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.

In Summary

TPLO can be a great option for your dogs CCL issues. After surgery limit their activity. Don't let them jump or rough house. If you see signs that make you concerned about their recovery talk to your vet. Follow your post surgery vet advice.

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.

Does your dog need TPLO surgery? Contact our office to book an appointment.