Why is My Dog’s Leg Clicking After TPLO Surgery?

by | Jan 11, 2023 | Uncategorized

Dogs recovering from a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) procedure can sometimes produce a clicking sound when walking. When this happens, any pet owner would wonder if it’s a cause for concern. 

If you’re worried about the clicking sound, you’re not alone. It’s one of the common questions dog owners ask during TPLO recovery.

This article discusses what you need to know about this popping sound after TPLO surgery: where it comes from, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

Where Does This Sound Come From?

Sometimes, owners would hear a clicking or popping sound when they take their dogs on a stroll outdoors or in the backyard. 

The source of this “click” or “pop” usually comes from the legs and knees. After repairing the ruptured CCL, your dog’s joints still need to get used to the walking motion. Typically, the dog feels fine even if there’s a sound. However, this can change if there’s pain involved.

If your dog has trouble walking due to pain or limping, it’s best to raise this concern to your vet as soon as possible. After all, this can be a sign of a meniscal tear, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Why Is My Dog’s Leg Clicking After TPLO Surgery?

The most common cause of this clicking sound is a meniscal tear. When this happens, the femur bone slides past or over the meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee. This friction creates the popping sound that you hear when your dog flexes their knee.

Should this be a concern? To answer this question, it is crucial to understand the meniscus and the role it plays in your dog’s joints.

What is the Meniscus?

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage located in the dog’s knee. It sits below the knee cap (patella) and near the cruciate ligaments.

It acts as a cushion to the knee joints and holds them together. Having enough padding in the space between the joints and the bones means your dog can move fluidly. It’s an essential component of your dog’s joint health, and damaging it can affect your dog’s mobility.

What is Its Connection with the Popping Sound After TPLO Surgery?

One of the most common instances of meniscal injuries comes from the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). It is also known as the “bucket handle tear.”

If your dog damages their CCL, it can most likely injure its meniscus. The damage can occur as a direct result of the CCL injury or after the surgical procedure. And when this cartilage tears, it produces an audible popping noise when your dog moves their legs. 

How Can I Help My Dog After ACL Surgery Knee Clicking?

Now that you know why your dog’s leg makes clicking sounds after TPLO surgery, you might ask: as a dog owner, what can I do about it?

The answer is simple: if you can see that your dog is limping or in pain, it is best to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as you can. It can indicate a meniscal tear or other underlying conditions that your vet can help you with during the process.

This section discusses further your options if your dog’s leg keeps clicking after a TPLO surgery.


Surgery is one option if you notice any signs of discomfort or limping associated with a clicking sound with your dog’s leg.

Your vet would also recommend surgery to treat the meniscal tear if the injury lies in the inner section of the meniscus. This part does not have a good blood supply and will most likely not heal on its own.

This procedure will trim or remove the section of the injured meniscus. Your vet may recommend doing arthroscopy, which is minimally invasive for dogs.

Medical management

Most of the time, the clicking noise does not come with any discomfort or limping. In fact, the sound typically goes away after some time.

If there is a tear in the meniscus, this cartilage could heal itself. However, this will depend on the degree and type of injury that occurred. If the damage lies on the outer part of the meniscus, it can heal on its own. This area has a sufficient supply of blood to aid in the healing process.

If this is the case, your vet will most likely recommend medication or joint supplements. They will help in repairing your dog’s joints back to peak health.

Rest and Recovery at Home

Rest is also a necessary element of the TPLO recovery process. Depending on the gravity of your pet’s injury, your vet will most likely recommend complete rest for your dog at home.

You can also adjust your home arrangements to accommodate your dog’s needs. Start with simple adjustments, such as providing a kennel or small room for your dog to rest. Having a dedicated space goes a long way to helping your dog heal from injury. Find more tips on dog-proofing your home in this article.

By giving them plenty of time to relax, your dog can recover at a steady pace and restore their health in no time.

Provide the Best Care for TPLO Recovery

The road to recovery for patients with CCL injuries is a long and ardent one. Proper care is crucial for dogs recovering from surgical operations like TPLO. Its aftereffects are among the things that dog owners need to watch out for during the rehabilitation process.

Paying attention to symptoms, such as popping sounds after TPLO surgery, remains crucial to the recovery process. If you notice any glaring signs of discomfort, it’s best to contact your vet immediately. If the condition is spotted early, your dog can receive the care they need in a more timely fashion. 

Find tips and information about recovering from TPLO and keeping your dog healthy in the TPLOinfo blog.

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