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Recovery after TPLO Surgery


Curious if anyone has any advice on recovering from TPLO Surgery. I have a 6.5 year old Pitty who had surgery yesterday to repair ligaments. She is tremendously active and afraid of her re-injuring her leg. Any success stories and advice is welcome.

Bubblz Calhoun

Good Dog
What instructions were you given when you picked her up from the hospital? Follow those to the T,.. very little to no activity, if you're having a hard time keeping her from moving around and or wanting to play. You may have to crate her for the majority of her recovery



Thanks for the input. I was given some very explicit directions on complete excersice restriction for 8 weeks. I did get a crate and tried to acclimate just before surgery, but not enough time for my excitable girl. She is having a hard time adjusting as she pants excessively only when she is in crate. Also think it is the E-collar that is upsetting her.

Have you gone thru the procedure?


Big Dog
My dog, Molly, had a TPLO on her left knee in Dec 2009 and a TPLO on her right knee in Dec 2010. She is also highly stressed by crating (pants and her eyes go bloodshot within minutes) so we used a tall x-pen that a friend of mine lent me. I doubled up some of the panels on the x-pen (secured with quick links) so that it made a rectangle and I put a 2' x 3' orthopedic foam mattress inside of the enclosure and a pillow and some blankets. I also wedged this x-pen set up between the bed and some other furniture so that it's less easy to get knocked over in case she did fuss.

We followed our surgeon's instructions for recovery which looks like this:
first 2 weeks: complete confinement except for bathroom breaks on leash; passive stretching of affected leg
end of week two: staple removal
weeks 3-4: continued passive stretching of affected leg; allow for two 5-minute walks a day on leash
weeks 5-6: increase walks to 10 minutes a day on leash
weeks 7-8: increase walks to 15-20 minutes a day on leash

For the light walks, it is really important to make sure the dog does not pull as pulling means they are using their front legs more. Walking on sand or loose (small) gravel is optimal because the additional traction and sensory input of the sand/gravel works the toes and increases nerve sensitivity throughout leg muscles.

The first TPLO recovery was hard for Molly and she developed patellar tendonitis in the knee that was operated on. Her recovery took longer as we had to rest her longer and slow down the schedule of walks listed above. We also lay down the carpet grip liners over the tiled/hardwood floor portions of our house so that she wouldn't slide on the tile/wood. She had a lot of muscle atrophy in the leg that was operated on because we took our time to sort through the various options and wound up not getting her into surgery until about 6 months after her injury.

She is currently recovering ahead of the curve with her second surgery (Dec 2010) and we go in next week for week 8 x-ray to verify that the bone has healed completely. With her more recent injury, I had her assessed within 5 days of her injury (instead of doing 2 weeks solid rest and anti-inflammatories) because it was really obvious to me (the second time around) that her symptoms all led to cruciate injury. She went into surgery 3 weeks after her injury so I think the lack of time/opportunity for muscle atrophy really helped her recovery faster this time. At around week 3, she started offering stretches on her own (which she normally does when she's in good health) so I made sure to reward her with a treat whenever she stretched. I also would say "good stretch!" whenever she did it so now that's part of our routine to make sure she stretches before we go for a walk. When the dog offers a stretch on his/her own, it's an "active" stretch as opposed to a "passive" stretch where you are the one manipulating the dog's body.

I know some people who have worked with canine physical therapists during TPLO recovery and others who have done hydrotherapy (underwater treadmills) and have been pleased with the results. We didn't have $$ for PT and my girl is afraid of water so hydrotherapy was not an option for us.

A book that really helped me too with the second surgery is this one: Amazon.com: Getting in TTouch with Your Dog: An Easy, Gentle Way to Better Health and Behavior (9781570762062): Linda Tellington-Jones: Books I massaged her leg and especially the toes on her right foot (surgery was on her right knee) during the initial 4 weeks of her recovery and that really helped a lot since we don't have a sand lot nearby. There is also a leash-holding technique shown in the book that really helps a dog balance their weight properly over all four feet rather than pulling forward and I used that technique rather than any corrective no-pull measures during her short recovery walks.

Lastly, is your dog wearing a soft cone or an inflatable cone or is it one of the hard plastic cones? The hard plastic ones are particularly tough for most dogs to get used to.

I hope all of this helps; if you have any particular issues, post them in case I may be able to have some insight for you. We went through some other issues too during both her recoveries but this is already pretty long LOL


Hey Molsie,

Great info thank you for the level of detail and the book reference. Good luck with Molly's 8 week check up next week. I am very concerned of Lucy injuring her opposite leg as well. My actvity instructions are very similar, but a little more scaled back. I have by week 9 (if things are well) 7-8 mins walks 2 X a day and week 10 walks can be 11-12 mins, week 12 12-15 mins and 12th week 15-18.

I have a hard plastic collar and a inflatable. She can work around the inflatble though and the hard plastic does stress her out(panting and drooling), but getting better slowly. I take it off of her when I'm able to supervise and seems to get the best rest then.

She is putting weight on the leg currently on day 5 sporadically, which I'm taking as a good sign and keeping our fingers and paws crossed that all goes well.

Thx again!

I will post any new developments and curious of the other "issues" you may have had.


Big Dog
You may want to ask if your vet has a soft cone, they are much less stressful for the dog. It simply ties around their neck so I had to loop one end of the string through the D-ring on Molly's collar because she figured out how to pull it off within a day :lol:

We were concerned about her injuring her right knee after the first surgery for her left one but after a while, I decided that it wasn't fair to put her in a bubble so-to-speak. One of the reasons we opted for the TPLO was that it seemed a route that will allow her the most mobility afterwards whereas some other surgical repairs, dogs can re-injure the same knee later on. Statistically, there is a really high rate of second knee blowing after getting surgery on one – some people like to blame the various surgical repair techniques. I figure in terms of body symmetry and breeding, if one knee is bad, chances are the other one is bad too. We had been (and continue to) supplement her with glucosamine/chondroitin/msm and a host of other goodies and that still didn't prevent her tearing the other knee.

Some of the other issues we had to deal with: a bad reaction to acepromazine (sedative used to keep her calm post-op); mild incontinence due to anesthesia/post-op meds; development of mild separation anxiety; struggling with the various techniques/medications to cope with the mild SA.

I think the instructions you were given sound similar enough – even looking at Molly's recovery from both surgeries, you can really see a variance in the times so I think the timeline your surgeon gave is just somewhat more conservative than what mine gave. I hope your girl heals well and without any complications :)


Lucy has had mild incontinence as well. She had a slight case back in 2009, and went away, now it has come back and was curious if it could have been stress related/post op-surgery etc. Vet said no and recommended I put her on Med's with my regular vet. Did your case go away without meds?


Big Dog
Molly's slight incontinence went away on it's own – I want to say it lasted about a week maybe. Her "leaking" was very very slight, more like spotting – but I have a really sensitive nose. She has never had any incontinence or UTI's.

My vet did not recommend medication for it since he too thought it could be related to the after effect of surgery. On another forum I frequent, other people have also noticed temporary incontinence after surgery or in relation to dog being on certain painkillers. Molly was also given Tramadol for a few days immediately after surgery and Metacam for about 10 days.

With your Lucy, was a cause ever found for her previous incontinence back in 2009? I would definitely factor in medical history and what medications she's currently on if deciding whether or not to medicate for it now. I would question the hell out of my vet though and make sure that none of the current meds have any side effects that may cause incontinence.


Good Dog
Good luck with your recovery!! I had a dog with a ruptured cruciate and repair, but we opted for the nylon band over the TPLO. I chronicled our recovery in a blog: Sophie's Cruciate

Although we didn't have the TPLO, I hope that some of the accounts help you. I would also strongly recommend that you join the yahoo!groups Orthodogs group. They're a top notch group of people that will be able to answer many of your questions.
Dr. Jamie which is our vet who did the procedure listed us some recovery process we have to do https://tploeastbay.com/6-steps/step-6/ and one of which is applying a cold and hot compress. We also did follow the leer walks compared before the surgery plus doing some exercises/massages which honestly I have a really hard time since he was whining but I gotta do it as part of the rehabilitation. Post-care opt is just time-consuming on your end so you really should be prepared for that.