TPLO surgery provides an overwhelmingly beneficial outcome for most patients. Despite this high rate of success, the recovery process can at times seem daunting to pet owners. Understanding the TPLO recovery timeline can help make the process more manageable for a pet owner. The recovery period following TPLO is approximately eight weeks. During this period, the tibia (shin bone) has time to heal so that the pet can gradually be reintroduced to activity. As a pet owner, there are multiple things you can do to help your pet recover from surgery. Here is a quick TPLO recovery guide for you.
Immediately Following The Surgery
The first few weeks following TPLO are the most important for your pet. They may experience slight discomfort from surgical inflammation in the days following surgery and this should be managed with appropriate pain medications. Often times, pets may feel strong enough to put some weight on the leg within the first few days of surgery. This is ideal, as weight bearing helps maintain muscle mass and range of motion and also speeds the process of bone healing. Though your pet may feel ready to return to activity soon after surgery, appropriate activity restriction is critical for proper canine TPLO recovery.
The First Couple Weeks
For the first two weeks post-surgery, your pet should be taken outside on-leash only multiple times a day for five minutes at a time. Do not allow any high impact activity such as running, jumping, or playing with other pets. During this time it’s also important to check the incision site for any swelling, redness or discharge. It is extremely important to prevent your dog from chewing or licking the incision site, which could lead to an infection or premature removal of the sutures.
Gradually Increase Duration of Leash Walks
If your pet is recovering well (using the operated limb) after the first two weeks you can gradually increase the duration of walks by up to five minutes each week. By eight weeks after surgery, your pet may go for one or two 20-30 minute walks each day with a couple shorter leash walks for elimination purposes. It is important to remember to keep your pet on a leash at all times during the first 8 weeks of the recovery, even if they seem to be pain free and walking normally.
What To Do If Your Dog Is In Pain
Assuming there are no contraindications, your pet will most likely go home on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and an ancillary pain medication. Immediately following TPLO surgery, icing the surgical site can help control pain and inflammation. Place an ice pack over the incision site on the knee for 15 minutes at a time. After 4-5 days, you can switch to a heat pack and follow the same process. Remember, if the heat pack is too hot for your skin, it’s too hot for your pet. Of course, if your dog seems to be in significant pain or has completely stopped using the surgical limb, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Being prepared as a pet owner can make the TPLO recovery process more predictable. Understanding what your dog is going through will help you provide appropriate care and allow your pet to recover more quickly.