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TPLO Surgery in Dogs | Preparation & Recovery

TPLO Surgery in Dogs | Preparation & Recovery

Discover the essence of Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery and its purpose in treating CCL injuries. Our Jackson veterinarians across all locations explore the reasons to opt for TPLO surgery for your canine companion and provide insights into what you can anticipate during the procedure.

What is TPLO Surgery?

Your active puppy may one day tear its cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which is similar to the ACL in humans. This is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs and causes significant pain. When the CCL is torn, the femur rubs against the back of the tibia, leading to discomfort and inflammation. Your dog won't be able to use the injured leg or put any weight on it. 

If this happens, you should consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery for your dog. This surgery is the most common and effective long-term solution for dogs with a CCL injury. TPLO surgery has a high success rate and a short recovery time.

A dog's knee is naturally bent at around 110 degrees, which puts extra strain on it and makes it prone to injury. TPLO surgery eliminates the need for the torn ligaments and restores stability to your dog's knee, allowing them to use the joint normally again


During TPLO surgery the bone will be cut and the tibial plateau will be rotated so the tibia and femur work together. Your vet will remove part of the tibia and reposition it, so the femur won't be able to slide backward anymore. Most importantly, this surgery will stabilize the knee.

If your dog is suffering from CCL and you are considering TPLO surgery, you should consider other factors such as:

  • Weight and size
  • Age
  • Health (any current joint issues)
  • Activity level
  • Post-surgery care and recovery

TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs: What to Do & What to Avoid

The first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are crucial for the healing process. The time it takes for your dog to fully recover can range from 8 weeks to 6 months, depending on factors like size, age, and breed.

Even though plates and screws will be used during the surgery to secure the bone graft, the healing process for your dog will still take a while. Here are some important steps to follow during the recovery phase:

  1. Allow your pet to rest in a safe place and give the anesthesia time to wear off.
  2. Keep a close eye on the surgical areas, ensuring they stay clean, covered, and protected from infection.
  3. Limit physical activity to allow the bones to heal, following any exercise routines recommended by your vet.
Right after the surgery, protecting your dog from potential infection and minimizing their physical activity is crucial. Dogs tend to be active, but it's important to understand that they might feel ready for physical activity before they actually are. So, reducing their activity level as much as possible is essential.

While short walks are acceptable, avoid any strenuous activity completely.

During the recovery period, it's best to avoid leaving your dog alone with other dogs or animals, as any incidents or excessive activity could lead to serious injuries that may affect their recovery.

If everything is progressing well, your vet will usually remove the stitches around 8 weeks after the surgery.

Potential Complications & What to Do

Complications with TPLO surgery is rare but not unheard of, some symptoms you should watch for are:

  • Inflammation or infection at the 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

If you do notice any of these symptoms then you should call your vet immediately for advice on the next steps. 

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.

Is your dog showing signs that it may have torn its CCL? Contact our Jackson vets to have your dog examined and diagnosed so we can immediately start treatment! 

New Patients Welcome

Jackson Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Jackson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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