Dog ACL Surgery Infection: What You Can Do

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Dog Health

Dogs are prone to knee-related injuries. There are several causes of these injuries for dogs since they can be very active. That is why taking care of your fur baby means more than ensuring it’s fit and healthy. If your dog has torn its knee ligament, bringing it to the vet is imperative.

This information will help you to find out when your dog needs an ACL/CCL surgery, possible complications, the signs, and symptoms of infections, as well as recommendations for after-care surgical treatment.

What is an ACL/CCL Surgery?

An ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery is an essential procedure done to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament in your dog’s injured knee. It is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed on dogs, which can lead to mild infections or severe complications.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Post-Surgical Dog Infections

Regardless of the complexity of the surgery you choose for your dog, the post-operative care has a huge impact to determine if the procedure is successful. Clinical examination and regularly monitoring the incision site are important to identify any infections that might occur. 

Most of the complications are acute and can be cured easily. However, without proper care and treatment, it may lead to severe injuries and inflammation. 

Below are the common signs of infection after ACL surgery:

  • Excessive redness 
  • Pain and swelling
  • Bruises or contusion
  • Shaking, hiding, and drooling
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Wound discharge/pus
  • Accumulation of fluid or small seromas
  • Discomfort and limping

Possible Complications of Canine ACL/CCL Surgery

No matter how common the procedure may be, it can come with potential risks. Take note of the following possible complications your fur baby might experience during or after the CCL operation.

1. Anesthesia-related Complications

Your pup may experience a decrease in blood pressure, fluctuations in respiratory rate, low heart rate (bradycardia), low blood oxygen (hypoxemia), and bleeding. Older dogs are also prone to more serious complications, including a decrease in body temperature (hypothermia).

2. Post-Operative Bleeding

Another possible complication is minor bleeding. It is generally normal within 24 hours of surgery, but in cases of continuous or excessive bleeding, make sure to consult your vet immediately.

3. Focal Tissue Trauma

After the surgery, there’s a chance of a partial or full tear in the incision site. Tissue injury is possible specifically around the area where the surgery was performed. The injury can be incredibly painful and traumatic for your dog, which often leads to lameness or difficulty in walking.

4. Implant Failure or Fracture

During the operation, the vet will insert a plate and screws on the affected bone to hold it in position while it heals. Too much activity or stress on the implants during the recovery period could result in a bend or break in the implant or a fracture of the affected bone.

How to Care for Incision Site Post-Surgery

To help your dog get through the recovery process, it is important to put just as much caution and care into the recovery as the veterinary surgeon did during the procedure. Generally, the healing period takes about four months. While your pup recovers from the pain and swelling, make sure to give it the proper after-care treatment it deserves.

Tips to Prevent Wound Infection After Surgery

It is crucial to prevent a surgical site infection following the procedure. To avoid further complications and help your dog recover faster, it is best to keep the following things in mind.

1. Confine your pet to a small room for the eight week rest period.

After surgery, your vet will likely recommend your pup to rest in a kennel or smaller area for at least eight weeks. You can also confine your canine in a small room to restrict its movements and avoid its incision site from bumping into objects.

2. Avoid running, jumping, or any uncontrolled and strenuous activities.

Remember to keep your dog from doing any strenuous activities. High impact activity such as running and jumping can put undo stress onto the limb and the implants which could lead to a setback in their general recovery.

3. Monitor surgical site.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent infections is daily monitoring of the incision site. Be on the lookout for common signs and symptoms of post-surgical complications such as redness, swelling, heat, and unusual discharge or odor.

4. Administer medications for pain as advised by your veterinarian.

Ask your vet about the right pain medications for your pup post surgery. You can also apply a cold compress on the affected knee for extra comfort and to reduce swelling.

5. Make sure your dog wears bandages and/or collars to prevent licking.

Dogs can’t help licking, scratching, or rubbing their wounded area, especially when it gets itchy or painful. This can contaminate and disrupt the incision site. Covering the incision site with protective recovery suits or E-collars can help block your dog’s access to the wound.

Keep Your Dog From Getting Post-Surgical Infections

Help your dog recover faster after an ACL/CCL surgery through proper after-care treatment. This will avoid further complications and severe infections. For more information on how to take care of your dog, visit the TPLOInfo blog today.

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