If you are reading this, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery is probably something you’re considering for your dog or already have scheduled.

My rescued pit bull, Scooby, tore his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) while happily playing with other dogs. The CCL is part of a dog’s knee joint and basically the dog’s version of a human ACL. After much research and advice, we chose TPLO surgery to heal him.

I do not regret the surgery one bit. I came back to update this post because I wanted to share that he lived an active and full life for several years after the procedure until cancer took him away from us.

My goal is to give you a dog owner’s perspective of what TPLO surgery recovery was like to help you navigate it and feel better about choosing it as a solution. However, my advice is no substitution for the advice of veterinary professionals. Our dog recovered in less time than I had anticipated because we were proactive with physical therapy, which I will cover in detail.

I had actually expected to write a week-by-week series of posts. After the first few weeks, there was nothing to chronicle other than his walking improved every day. And, of course, his post-surgery rehabilitation, which was time- and cost-intensive but worthwhile.

You will also need to buy some gear. Though I covered what we bought in my planning for dog TPLO surgery post, I’ve inserted some links to helpful products for consideration. The supplements that were recommended to us helped, too, and had a side benefit of improving his allergy-ridden skin.

Grab a coffee and let’s get started.

See also: How to Prepare for TPLO Surgery to Fix a Dog’s Cranial Cruciate Ligament Tear

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Editorial guidelines.

Why We Chose Dog TPLO Surgery

First things first, I thought I’d address why we chose such an invasive surgery for our dog. First, our vet and surgeon both recommended the procedure. I looked at conservative management and could not imagine keeping such a normally-active dog sedentary as well as on anti-inflammatories and pain medication forever. I was told that prolonged use of the anti-inflammatories leads to arthritis setting in earlier and more aggressively than usual.

As the surgery date neared, his limp increased. The cruciate ligament rupture was too much. Seeing him in pain broke my heart. The day before surgery, I started to hear an unbearable clicking noise when he walked, which meant his meniscus was now torn, too. He couldn’t live like that either.

Also, we have PetPlan pet insurance that covered a significant portion, but not all, of the costs. And I was prepared to do whatever it took to make sure his TPLO recovery meant a return of full limb function to lower the risk of a second cranial cruciate ligament rupture. I will always carry pet insurance because I now understand a CCL rupture can happen to any dog.

Surgery Day

Scooby was not able to have food after midnight or anything to drink after 5 a.m. on the morning of his TPLO surgery. I checked him into the hospital around 7 a.m. so that they could take radiographs and complete his blood work in time for afternoon surgery.

The surgeon called to say that he found masses on his leg and penis that should be cut out simultaneously. He was prone to random lumps and bumps due to allergies that we were constantly monitoring. Since he was already having surgery anyway, it was a good time to cut them out and send them away for biopsy (which turned out, thankfully, to be benign). The poor guy was stitched along his leg because of the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgery and two other spots for the mass removals.

After the surgery was over, the surgeon called to say it had been successful and that Scooby was resting comfortably. He’d spend the night under observation, and I’d receive a call in the morning with pick-up instructions based on how he was doing.

To keep my daughter’s mind off of the surgery, I scheduled a sleepover for her at our house. Crazy? Maybe. I dare say that despite the extra work, it helped keep my mind from wandering, too.

Day After TPLO Surgery

A floor mattress helps everyone be together after a dog's TPLO surgery.
We could all be comfortable on the floor with this mattress.

Before he came home, my daughter and I set up a queen tri-fold mattress that we had bought on the floor. Knowing how needy Scooby is, we figured he’d want to lay with us for the rest of the day.

My instructions were to pick him up at 1 p.m. and plan for about an hour’s visit. The doctor would go over post-operative care, pain management, and medication instructions in detail. I put one of his dog beds in the back of my SUV along with his ramp and headed off to the hospital. Ensure that where your dog sits in the car on the way home is free from dirt, sand, or anything that might enter the wound.

The doctor brought him out using a sling under his hind hips as a precaution because they have slippery floors. She said he otherwise didn’t need it. Scooby looked great and seemed to be walking almost normally, which was fueled by the adrenaline of leaving the hospital and seeing us. She let him walk quite fast but said that slow walking right after surgery is better.

I had her help me lift him into the car as he wasn’t yet good with using a ramp to get in.

Scooby, thankfully, received stitches that absorb in place of staples. However, the stitches for his masses were the kind that needed to be removed. The bevy of medicines we took home included painkillers, antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory, and a sedative.

We spent the rest of the day in our little mattress camp. He stood up to eat and to go to the bathroom. His walking was not nearly as good as it was at the hospital and looked truly painful to put weight on the injured leg. My heart ached while watching him try to move around.

He couldn’t quite figure out how to lift his leg to pee. He squatted once. The next time he went outside to pee, I cringed as he lifted his good leg while putting all weight on the injured leg. He limped back into the house with a lesson learned. I was told later by his rehab therapist that this is the beauty of TPLO surgery — they can put weight on the operated leg almost immediately.

Post-Surgery Care Details

At night, I gave him a precautionary sedative and slept with him on the mattress. While I left his e-collar (cone of shame) on all night, I had his leash in my hand so that I would know if he moved. He slept well but pulled himself completely up five or more times in the night to slowly shift around. I’m sure he was uncomfortable.

I cut his normal amount of food by 1/3 due to his lack of activity.

I did not use the harness we bought during his recovery. It proved to be more helpful in the days leading up to the surgery when he was really hurting. The car ramp, though, is something he used for the rest of his life.

A reusable hot/cold pad on the leg of my TPLO surgery dog.
The reusable hot/cold pad (which we have since used ourselves for sports injuries)

We were instructed to apply an ice pack for 10-15 minutes, 3 times for the first 24 hours, and then a warm compress 3-4 times per day after that. It is very helpful to have a reusable hot-cold compress that can be placed in the freezer or microwave depending on what we need.

After the first day, it is up to pet owners to make sure the dog rehabs well. You can always call the surgeons, veterinarian, or hospital for assistance but don’t expect a ton of handholding from here on out unless you ask for or need it.

Day 2

I was totally exhausted. Several people told me to be prepared to devote two weeks to TPLO surgery recovery and they weren’t kidding.

Scooby hobbled out to the kitchen to eat but then refused his pills. As a dog who takes daily allergy medicine, he often goes through spurts where he figures out they’re being hidden in peanut butter, bread, hot dogs — you name it.

I tried hot dogs, string cheese, bread, pizza, and several other things he rejected. Finally, we settled on butter. When you’re taking 8 pills, that’s a lot of butter. He threw up only the pills about 20 minutes later and, miraculously, kept his breakfast in his stomach.

I called the surgeon who advised that I give him only the painkillers and antibiotics. I would temporarily skip the rest of the pills temporarily. In the meantime, my husband had gone to the store to get eggs. Scooby loved egg yolks. I slipped the pills in a fried egg yolk (leaving the yolk a little soft so they didn’t fall out) and we were back in business.

I put him in a crate during the day. The crate plus e-collar combo was confusing to him as he kept whacking the e-collar on the crate’s panels. I moved our tri-fold mattress into the kitchen and left him on it instead of using the crate. He was so mellow that he laid there almost all day with his e-collar on. I was working in the kitchen, so I could stop him from getting up to walk around if need be, but he never tried.

Going outside to pee proved difficult for him. He could put a little pressure on the injured leg but not much. I could tell he was still confused about how to pee and in some pain.

Care Details

There was no need for sedatives today as he was still fairly groggy. His leg looked much more bruised around the knee and thigh bone.

About an hour after he took painkillers, I started the recommended passive range of motion exercises. My instructions were basically to bend and extend his operated leg. I massaged his quadriceps before and after the exercise. I couldn’t bend his leg in all the way—only slightly which seemed like enough for one day after a TPLO procedure. He was fighting the movements. This is a routine we’d continue until he was using his legs well during walks.

I ice packed his leg in the morning but by the time the evening hit, it was time for warm compresses.

Swelling on this day was unsettling. It happened above his incision and looked like a big red bag was hanging over his stitches. His entire leg also looked far more bruised and red. They told me this would happen but seeing it in real life is alarming. I thought about posting a photo of it but it is hard to look at.

Day 3

Alternatives to the e-collar (cone of shame) for dogs include a blow-up ring (did not work for us) like the one my dog is wearing here.
This works for some dogs, but not mine.

The e-collar was really causing him unhappiness, so I bought a few even worse alternatives. He could maneuver around the donut-style inflatable collar to lick his leg if need be, though it would be a great solution if he had, say, an incision on his back. I tried a floppy collar, but it was so floppy that it covered his entire head, and he couldn’t see. Back to the standard e-collar we went. I see why veterinarians prefer it.

The reason why dogs need to wear the cone during TPLO surgery recovery is that licking results in complications like an infection that may lead to additional procedures.

Still groggy, I let him sun himself outside today while keeping a close eye on him. He was very lethargic, so no sedatives were needed. He finally pooped, too, which was a huge relief.

I gave up floor sleeping, so put him in the crate. He was so lethargic, though, that he slept in it without issues.

Day 4

This was a challenging day. He’d decided that he’d had enough pills. He started gumming every single food item I slipped them in so that he could find them and spit them out. Sneaky.

I went to PETCO and saw the rolls of chilled food in the refrigerated section. While a little pricey, I bought a roll of salmon and veggies by FreshPet, thinking I could chop it up and hide the pills in that. It worked like a charm (and he’s eaten it for meals since then).

He was putting weight on his leg so we walked around outside for about 5 minutes, per our post-operative care instructions.

Days 5–9

A happy dog about a week after TPLO surgery
I got nothing done during this timeframe.

Major fatigue had set in on my part, which is why I didn’t keep much of a diary during this time. The swelling was pretty major until about day seven. I frequently had to sit with him to keep this normally active dog calm, which means not a lot got done at work or around the house.

He was a very happy dog during this time, however. I think about how grumbly I’d be after such a major surgery. He showed zero signs of suffering or pain.


He seemed to get a little energy back, so I tried using the sedatives to keep him calm. They didn’t work. He could fight through the maximum recommended dose after a short nap.

The cone was pretty depressing for him, so I kept it on him when he was out of my sight but took it off otherwise. He is not really a licker, though, and pretty mellow, so this worked for us.


We were walking for about 5-10 minutes, twice a day. I think he could have handled more, but I was nervous about pushing him too hard. He would still raise his hurt leg off the ground .as not to use it as a weight-bearing leg when standing still. I’m told this is normal.

Time Involved

As I said, he required more attention from me to keep him from moving around too much. I had to keep him on a leash at all times when outside of the crate. Toward the end of this timeframe, we felt okay to leave him for short spurts alone in the house inside of his crate. Until this timeframe, someone had always been at home with him.


Earlier in this timeframe, he was still so mellow that I let him sleep in his normal bed outside of the crate (he did not like being crated). I kept his leash on and slept with it looped on to my arm so that I knew when he was getting up. He did need to get up a few times at night to go to the bathroom.

Our dog sleeping in a crate with an e-collar on after TPLO surgery
This crate was pricey but worth it for him.

When he became a bit more active at the end of this timeframe, I put the crate around his bed. Our crate has 6 panels, which can be extended into a rather large sleeping area. I felt he needed the extra room to shift around as he is a big dog. However, he also started to want to jump back into our bed, so I eventually put the top on the crate.

Day 10

He’d been so well behaved and mellow that I allowed him to walk around our one-story, stairless house on his own. Well, that was a terrible idea because he jumped on my daughter’s bed. Granted, her bed is low to the ground, but it was still not something he should do. It’s the most comfortable bed in the house, and he knows it. I nearly lost it. I lifted him off the bed, and he did limp, but, thankfully, he did not re-injure himself.

A lesson was learned and he stayed on a leash at all times for the next week.

Day 12

Stitches finally out after TPLO surgery
No more stitches (but still a swollen leg).

The stitches from his masses were removed today thank goodness but they still wanted him to restrict movement and wear the cone for a few days while the incision healed a bit more. Things looked pretty good though.

As long as he was willing to walk, the surgeon said it was fine for him to walk him as far as he could handle as long as I didn’t have to carry him home. (Your doctor may say otherwise.) We did not need to continue the passive range of motion exercises but the surgeon suggested that I continue with the massage.

Day 18 — Formal Rehabilitation Begins

My dog walks on a water treadmill which is great rehabilitation for dogs after TPLO surgery.
This is the face of horror and, “Why am I doing this?”

Today, he started rehabilitation at a canine therapy center near our house. Our consultation started with measuring muscle atrophy that occurred in both legs, which is normal given the lack of use while recovering from TPLO surgery.

The goal of rehabilitation is to rebuild muscle in both legs to prevent a CCL tear or any injury to the good leg. Apparently, there have only been a handful of dogs at this center who have injured the good leg after completing their course of recommended physical therapy.

They loaded him into the water treadmill, filled it, and had him slowly walk. As a dog who hates water, this was quite a shock to him (and also funny to watch). The buoyancy of the water reduces the amount of painful downward impact on joints and muscles during exercise.

Some dogs love the water treadmill. Mine needed a toy in his mouth to act as a pacifier.

He was on the treadmill for about 25 minutes, dried off, and then had cold laser therapy and a massage for another 30 minutes. Cold laser therapy uses a beam of light to stimulate cellular regeneration to reduce swelling, promote healing, and relax the muscles.

Luckily for us, this rehabilitation is partially covered by our pet insurance but I would gladly pay for it out of pocket. I truly believe that he recovered quickly and returned to full limb function because of it.

He completed 10 sessions of rehab. At the end, he was able to run but was still not allowed to pivot, chase balls, or play with other dogs just yet.

We have a one-story house with no stairs or hazards like slippery tiles. He was free to walk around the house and yard at leisure. I was worried about him constantly standing up and lying down, but the therapist said this is actually good to help him strengthen the leg and not worry about it.

Weeks 3–6

Walks were upped to about 20–30 minutes twice per day. He did slow down toward the end of the walks. I am used to taking him on a long walk once a day, so this is a bit tough on me during busy days, but one walk for 40–60 minutes was not doable for him at this point.

A few other exercises were added to our recovery routine. I slowly walk him up and down curbs and stairs and for a few minutes every day. Around week 5, it was suggested that I take him to the beach. Walking in the sand helps strengthen muscles.

He continued to go to rehab twice a week and was still hilarious to watch on the water treadmill.

Week 7

My pit bull Scooby looks into the camera on week seven of his TPLO surgery recovery.
Just a normal dog doing normal dog things.

He is walking normally. In hindsight, seven weeks doesn’t seem like a lot, but it felt like forever at the time.

Besides the fact that his leg was still slightly shaved, you can’t tell he had the surgery. I could feel the plate and screws a little through his skin (and never quite got used to that) because the swelling had disappeared. He likes to run on the leash a little, which we allow on a limited basis. Rehab continues twice a week.

Week 8

A dog's X-ray 8 weeks after TPLO surgery.
Plate and screws as seen in the X-rays.

We headed back to the surgeon for a routine check-up. This is where they take further radiographs to see how the bone has healed. Because he needs to be sedated for radiographs, he was not allowed to eat anything after midnight the night prior.

Everything looked good. By this point in TPLO recovery, most dogs have 100% bone healing. However, Scooby only had 80%. The surgeon wasn’t at all worried about it because we were going to rehab. He looked great and was walking fine.

We were told that this was the last time we needed to see him.

Rehabilitation also ended this week. His good knee no longer showed any signs of muscle atrophy associated with the TPLO surgery. Our instructions were to climb stairs for a few minutes several times per week, walk in deep sand, and use the ocean as our water treadmill. Walking dogs in the ocean at just below their shoulder height provides enough resistance to build strength.

So then we were on our own. I can pretty much get him to do everything but walk in the ocean. We live in San Diego and he’s deathly afraid of it.

A dog at the beach in San Diego who is terrified of the ocean.
He hates water.

Week 9 and Onward

Scooby’s level of activity went back to normal with a few caveats. He used to go to a camp to play with other dogs. After consulting the camp director, who has seen many dogs go through TPLO surgery recovery and reinjury, we decided that this would not be a good idea to continue.

I think this was the hardest change for him because we were basically isolating him from other dogs. I avoided them during our walks, too, because he became so excited and jumpy upon seeing another dog (we had to work on this with a dog trainer).

We used ramps to get him into the car for 100% of the time going forward. A dog trainer can help your dog get used to walking on a ramp because there is a learning curve.

We let him get on our bed and our daughter’s bed using a soft ramp with scalloped steps. Once he understood how to use the car ramp, getting him to use the indoor soft ramp was easy. He occasionally skipped the ramp to jump on or off the beds but used it most of the time. But, he was a very mobile and happy dog.

Change of Diet and Supplements

As part of a campaign I was working on with the pet food company, Petcurean, I interviewed their nutritionist about how a dog’s diet can impact their joints and ligaments. It does and you can read her interview using the link below.

See also: Ask The Expert: Can Diet Prevent Dogs From Having Joint & Ligament Problems?

I discovered that we were probably over-feeding him as cutting his intake by 1/3 has kept him in the ideal weight range. We’ll continue at the reduced level.


Also based on advice from the surgeon and veterinarian, we continue with a high-quality glucosamine supplement. Apparently, quality matters. He takes a brand called Dasuquin that is a little bit cheaper on Amazon than at my vet office. It’s a chewable pill in a flavor that he likes. (My new rescue dog loves it, too.)

Fish Oil

He also needed daily Omega 3’s forever to help reduce inflammation. Right now, I’m using a salmon oil supplement that I pump into his food that he seems to like. I used to use another brand but the pump was constantly getting clogged. I think that consistent use of this brand has his skin looking way better than it did with his previous Omega 3. I also wonder if adding the Ligaplex II below has helped his skin in some way, too, but I have no proof.

Ligaplex II

His therapist recommended Ligaplex II, a food-based supplement that promotes joint and ligament health that many people rave about online. You can now buy it on Amazon. You simply break open the tablets and sprinkle the supplement on top of food. Or, just toss the tablets into food.

(Almost) No Table Scraps

I read that processed grains and carbohydrates lead to inflammation in dogs, too. That means no bread and little scraps my husband used to feed him. He’ll get the occasional raw carrot or cooked egg but that’s about it.

Final Thoughts

I’m really grateful for our medical and rehab team and that we had a good result with TPLO surgery. It was a stressful and time-consuming recovery but, in our case, completely worth the effort.

Scooby lived a full life after surgery. But, those lumps they removed were precursors to a common type of dog cancer that you may have never heard of called hemangiosarcoma. I hadn’t until it happened to him (and if you read the comments of shocked pet owners worldwide, I’m not alone), but it’s common and death is unexpected and imminent leaving you no time to prepare. It was tied to the lumps we that I mentioned were cut out during his TPLO surgery. They were also growing inside of him and we didn’t know until one on his spleen ruptured years later. If you have a big dog like a pit bull, Labrador retriever, or golden retriever please learn about it because you will want to recognize the symptoms. We now have another rescued pit bull named Ruby and I am keeping an eye on her knees and her skin.

Circling back to the entire point of this post, I hope that your dog never needs TPLO surgery. If he or she does, I wish you all a very speedy recovery with zero complications.

Also, this book called The Essential Dog Owner’s Manual for CCL Injury: What to Do Before, During & After Surgery was recommended (thank you) by a reader in the comments below. It looks helpful, and something I wish was available when Scooby had his surgery.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Hello! Great article!! Just wondering which insurance you have that covered so much for your dog?!

    1. Apologies for the late reply! We have Pet Plan. They did change their policies last fall but we are still happy with the coverage.

    1. Good luck! I do not regret the surgery at all. My dog is doing pretty well. However, I do not feel like he is stable enough to play with other dogs (he’s big so they jump around) though am not sure if this is due to arthritis. Either way, he’s so improved from where he was before!

  2. Thanks for your post… our boxer puppy (8 months old) is having this surgery on Thursday… we are dreading it but the sooner we can get him back healed the better ?. We are also in San Diego, can I ask what rehab center you used?? Hope Scooby is doing great!!

    1. 8 months? That’s so young but hopefully that means a quick recovery. We went to Tsavos in Del Mar and were very happy!

      1. Thank you… yes just a baby, so sad. He has long lanky legs and the vet said it was just bad luck when he was playing

    2. My dog got her TPLO on the 7th, how is your pup doing? Me and my Husband have a 5 y.o Cane Corso Mastiff shes about 100lbs. If you want to keep in touch about Follow ups feel free to email!
      She has a minor set back today… the bus came as we were doing our final lap on the street (too equal 10 minutes!) and she started misbehaving and fell on her behind. Thankfully no signs of tweaking or injury but shes resting for the rest of the day until tomorrow afternoon. We have her set up in our living room with a 2″ memory foam mattress me and my husband sleep with her on. We tried putting her in the cage but she tore the DOOR down. She is a diva! Stitches come out monday! and we get to get rid of her cone collar!

      1. Our pup was Houdini when it came to crates. We had to buy him an “impact crate.” I finally feel safe with him in there. You should check them out. Expensive but the peace of mind is worth it. Ours was $600 I think. Super solid. And my boy actually feels comforted and protected in there. We worried that he’d feel closed in cuz it’s not as open and a wire crate. He went right in a plopped down.

  3. Glad to see others in the same situation! My dog had his TPLO surgery about 2 months ago. Then 2 weeks in, he got his stitches out, vet said to take him on 10 min walks starting out, and bam. He saw a chipmunk, went to run after it, but since I had him on a leash, it quickly stopped him causing him to slip in the leaves. He wouldn’t stand, and when he attempted to I heard a crack in his OTHER leg. Something inside of me knew it was another torn ACL. Took him to the vet, low and behold, I was right. So he had another TPLO surgery on the opposite leg about a month ago. We are now recovering from 2 TPLOs, one on each leg. But as the vet says, at least he has no more ACLs to hurt! Lol. Best of luck xx

    1. This is my fear too. My boy is big and has to put so much weight on that other leg. He chased our cat which is what got him into this mess in the first place!

  4. Thank you for the very useful info and tips. Our shepherd mix Meg has TPLO tomorrow and I’m nervous. Your experience makes me feel a lot better about the next few weeks!?

  5. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m on day 3 post-op of double TPLO surgery on my 4-year-old pup. I’m sure she’s miserable and there’s nothing we can do but wait for everything to heal. Appreciate the info. Scooby is adorable!

    1. Debbie,

      How is your dog doing? My four year old pup is also scheduled for a double TPLO surgery here in a couple weeks and I am very nervous.

      Thank you!

  6. I am going thru recovery with my 4 yr old golden boy for the 2nd time – 1st leg in Sept, about 10 days out now in th 2nd. He is very tall and lanky legged – they said the angle of his knees was rather sharp compared to many dogs. 2nd leg he also had a torn meniscus. Happened as he was running across the room to go out. Heard the yelp and then he wouldn’t bear weight. This 2nd surgery they used some type of new pain gel internally and it made his first few nights so much easier pain wise. Our vet did not suggest any water rehab or massage – just progressive walk lengths and surfaces as time went on. Thank you for the info on the supplement – I will be asking about them. My dog has dry skin so of that can improve too that would be a bonus.

  7. I really appreciate you sharing your story. My American Bull Dog is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. I’m a nervous mamma tonight.

    1. Apologies for the late response. I hope the surgery went well! We’re 10 months in and I am so glad we went through with it because Scooby is back to normal.

  8. Thank you for all this information. Our dog just had tplo on Saturday. I’ve referred to your site at least 25 times!

    1. Apologies for the delay in response. Thanks so much for the referrals and I hope your dog heals quickly! We’re 10 months in and I don’t regret the surgery one bit. He’s totally back to normal!

  9. Thank you for so much for chronicling this. Glad to know he did well. Cute dog (I love the beach picture…lol!) We are probably going to be fostering a 2-yr old Shepherd thru surgery, therapy, & recovery, so this is a great reference!

  10. Hello, my 72 lb lab/pit mix had her 2nd TPLO surgery today. I have a SUV that sits higher than the car I had when she had the 1st surgery (on other leg). I am worried about getting her in & out of the car & she’s just too heavy for me to safely pick up on my own. I was wondering if your dog started using the ramp fairly easily? I was thinking of buying one for future car rides. I’ve read reviews for some ramps that say they are too steep or the traction wasn’t right. Did the ramp you chose work well? Thanks for all the info!

    1. Hi! In anticipation of the surgery, we did a little ramp training as he did not get the concept at all in the beginning. This is why the traction is important and why the sand paper traction surfaces should be avoided as dogs who are new to ramps might scratch themselves up by not walking up them properly. We’re about 10 months post surgery and I still use the ramp with him just because I don’t think the impact of jumping in and out of the SUV is that good for his legs. So, I would recommend a ramp for big dogs and we went through three before I found one that worked for us. It’s the PetStep folding ramp. It’s a little bulky but the traction is rubber. I talk about it here – https://lajollamom.com/dog-tplo-surgery-tips/ Good luck!

    2. Thanks times a million for the wonderful journal about TPLO! My handsome rescue boy Storm (10yrs old) is resting tonight at my Vets after his knee surgery – I have things all set up to pick him up tomorrow and thanks to you know what to expect. My heart will ache for a while I am sure upon seeing him and no doubt for the next 8 weeks or so but the results will be so awesome. Hugs.

  11. Hello La Jolla Mom and Scooby!
    Your article is so informative, thank you for taking the time to provide so much detail. My six-year-old GSD is having problems with a mix of arthritis and CL problems, mainly in one leg. I’ve seen two vets and while both have taken x-rays, long story, I didn’t get definite info from them. Time for a specialist.
    She can’t take arthritis med as it ruins her stomach, so she’s toughing it out on Tramadol and CBD. She’s also started water treadmill, acupuncture and laser. But she’s become a different dog and it saddens me. She’ll still get in the car and go places (low side entry ancient PT Cruiser, just a little hop, took back seats out), but doesn’t have much stamina to work with me.
    My biggest hurdle to any surgery is myself. I live alone, have arthritis in both knees, am severely hearing impaired – and Liza is my hearing assistance service dog. Thankfully I work from home. I have a friend who could help get her to surgery and back and help occasionally, but no one to assist on a daily basis.
    She’s a mellow, obedient girl, have had her since she was a puppy and we trained together. Is this something you think I could do on my own. She has a 48-inch crate that she’s used to, it’s in my bedroom/office that will give her room to stretch but still contain her.
    I know I can’t lift her, or even support her very much to go potty. But she’s a real trooper. She never would take pills in food or by hand, picky eater, so she lets me put them way back in her throat. She’s not a Kong girl or anything like that to distract her… so don’t know what she’ll do there, more a squirrel chaser/ball player outside dog when not working.
    Also worry about the car. She goes everywhere with me, and even when she’s able to go out post surgery, she may still need a ramp, and I doubt that’s something I can physically handle. But I need to get this done, she’s depressed a lot. And so am I, being worried about her.
    Thanks again for your article and listening… and by the way, even though I live in the Seattle area, I was born and raised in Fallbrook. Many trips to SD for the beach.
    Danielle Clarneaux

    1. Oh Danielle, I hope she has a speedy recovery. It is very difficult until the stitches come out but I don’t regret it one bit. Scooby is totally back to normal though he doesn’t bend his knee as much as he used to and I limit his play with other dogs, just to be on the safe side. She will hopefully be a happier girl a few months after it’s done. I do hear that some dogs heal a bit more slowly but at six years old she’ll have plenty of good years ahead after the fact. GOOD LUCK!

  12. Hi! May I ask where you had your procedure done? Our 1 year old American Bulldog is having the procedure done today and I’m a nervous wreck!! 🙁

  13. Thank you so much for this site. My 3 yr old german shepherd had this surgery last week. It’s such a great reference of what to expect. I know each dog is different but it is a great guideline. It’s a stressful experience for dogs and owners but reading that someone else has been through this and gives details it is SO helpful. Staples come out Monday. I know it may be a few days after but can’t wait for the cone to come off soon.Thank you!!

  14. Thank you SO much for the helpful recovery information LaJolla Mom! Our Yorkie just had TPLO surgery today and it went well. I can’t wait to have him back home. We live here in Carlsbad, CA and curious which rehab facility you used since we live close. So happy your dog is doing so well. Thanks in advance for the information.

  15. Thank you so much for this wonderful article I hope you and your pup are doing fantastic ..my dog just had tplo surgery yesterday and I was researching on what it would be like to rehab him this is put a smile on my face made me laugh and concerned all at the same time.. thank you so much and I hope my recovery for me lol and my pup go as well as yours did ..God bless

  16. thankyou for your informative post. We are on day 4 after tplo surgery. We are all tired. Our boy hates that crate and wants to sleep with us. So we made a bed in the lounge. He is healing well, but just unhappy. Hopefully we might all get some normality in a few weeks

    1. Oh good! We’re just over a year post-op and you’d never know my dog ever had it. I don’t let him jump much but he’s good as new (fingers crossed). Hang in there!

  17. Thanks for all of your posts, they’ve been very very helpful! My 7 year old lab is 14 days post surgery. I’m going to start the supplements and I was wondering how much of the ligaplex II you give Scooby? Thanks!

  18. I cant tell you how many times i have read and re-read this in preparation for my Hemi surgery. NOTHING could have prepared me for caring for a crippled 138 pound dog who became incontinent for 5 days post surgery, but all the other info helped me get organized and feel confidant that he ( and crazy me) are somewhat normal for what we are going through. Sadly, we found out his other leg is bad too….i am heartbroken but will just take this one day at a time. Just wanted to thank you for documenting your journey…..

  19. My pup just had his TPLO on Monday, he is doing well but has always been a master at looking pitiful when it is warranted. And he has definitely been giving the pitiful look these last few days, he hates the cone and does not like being confined to any one area.

    I just wanted to share that I have found the BEST pill hiding option with Jennie’s Coconut Macaroons (https://jenniesmacaroons.com/product/8-oz-coconut-macaroon-can). They have very few ingredients (= no allergens either) and are easy to sneak the pills in. Both of my dogs love them and will eat them at any time, even when refusing every other pill hiding sneaky treat. Given the number of medications we are sent home with, the macaroons are in high demand at this house! I find them most easily at Amazon.

  20. How long was Scooby on pain medication for after the TPLO surgery. Trying to gauge when I should take my dog off of them after the same surgery.
    Thank you 🙂

  21. So glad I read this! My Australian kelpie is having the surgery tomorrow and I have been so nervous! Feeling much more relieved after reading your journey 🙂

  22. I’m about to go through this journey with my dog on December 27th and have been so nervous about it! Thank you for sharing your experience. It was so helpful to read!

  23. Hello all and I hope your dogs are all doing good. My dog had the TPLO surgery 4 days ago and it has been really tough to say the least. Thank you for writing this article it helps to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you all for telling your stories. My pup Dobby is two years old and has had his left leg done. The first few days were horrible, he didn’t want to eat or drink was so depressed, hated the crate, hated the cone. My husband built him a 4×8 enclosure that takes up are living room but Dobby is finally showing signs of life. He is eating and drinking now and sleeps most of the day away as he is on tranquilizers but he’s happy we can be in there with him, even if it’s just to watch him sleep. We tried the donut cone and of course isn’t good for him with a leg injury. He can reach his insision with it on. Finally we found the Zen cone and it works like a charm and he doesn’t seem to even mind it that much now. He sleeps comfortably and it bends softly around his face when he lays down. I also had the same trouble with him not taking his pills for me. I tried hiding it in everything and he smelled that pill inside everytime! We finally settled on rolling up cold little cream cheese balls and hiding the pill inside, getting his mouth opened and sticking it in closing his mouth and gently rubbing his throat so he swallows it. First few times were hard but today it was like he accepted I wasn’t gonna just go away so he swallowed them without that much of a battle. He is walking on his leg on and off, but only when we go on bathroom breaks. We keep him in his enclosure other then that. He will limp then he will touch just tippy toes on the ground then will walk again but always with a limp. I feel so bad for him. It’s heart breaking watching him like this even though I know this was the right choice it’s crushing, but I know we will get through this and he will be so much happier and pain free! Goodluck to all who travel down this road! May your pets be happy and healthy and may God keep you sane through it all! God bless!

    1. Debra – take heart! It gets better each day. Pills – hide in braunschweiger, thin sliced ham, cooked ground liver balls (this requires REAL dedication!), creme cheese or peanut butter, macaroons. It’s only for a short while! We worry about Elma (two year old BullMastiff) gaining weight, so we used a half can of green beans in addition to the pills given not at mealtime, to avoid stomach upset. The cone drove Elma nuts, we finally resorted to taking it off during the day and watching her like a hawk. Worked for us, and it is usually only till the stitches come out. We are retired, so we are with our dog all day long. I hooked a leash to the chair I sit in usually to knit and she is able to spend a lot of the day in the action, but restrained as far as she can go. We are 3 weeks into the second TPLO, and 8 weeks after the first one was done. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but this whole journey certainly requires attention to detail and is not for the faint of heart.

      1. Jeri- Thanks so much for the reply and hope. I’m so sorry that you guys and Elma had to go through this, especially twice. I know there is a high chance we may too, I pray every day we won’t. Although now I will spend every day worrying that he will hurt his other leg too! There must be a little peace of mind for you knowing the surgeries are both over. I was at the end of my rope the other day feeling sorry for Dobby and in a bad state of mind and my mother said something that made me change from feeling so bad to feeling lucky. Yes, it is difficult to go through this, it’s hard to see your baby go through this, but at least it is something fixable. We could have went and got worse news. They could have told us there was nothing they could do to fix this! Dobby has come so far in just a few days, it’s amazing! I can’t believe how quickly he has gotten back to being Dobby! Today is day 8 and the Dr. took him off his pain meds yesterday because he wasn’t eating really good. He is still on the tranquilizers so he doesn’t injure himself. (He is very high strung) She thought it was do to the pain meds causing an upset stomach. By last night he was eating so good. I was worried about him not being on his anti inflammatory and pain meds but he’s doing great and amazingly his leg isn’t swelled anymore! His leg looked so bad the last few days it was so swelled. It was like we woke up yesterday and it looked completely different! I read somewhere that the goats milk helps with inflammation and also with healing. I don’t know if that helped or maybe he would have been the same without it but I will defineley keep him on it. Hearing from other people who have gone through this helps so much. Thanks again for the reply and good luck to you. May Elma have a very speedy recovery!

  24. Hi, La Jolla Mom
    I haven’t read your complete post yet but will be printing it off and reading it thoroughly.
    My eight year old Staffy boy, Bodhi was yesterday diagnosed with a degenerative genetic\congenital condition that is causing him pain and lameless in his knees. He needs to have TPLO surgery done to both knees. I don’t want to get both done simultaneously (even though it would be cheaper and would be over in one fell swoop) as I think it would be too hard on him and me. So, we are planning to get his left knee done at the beginning of March and the right one when his left one has healed. The diagnosis took me completely by surprise as he has been perfectly fine up until Christmas\New Year’s week when he started limping on his left leg after a very energetic run on the beach. Apparently his knees have been deteriorating for some time but as Staffies are so stoic, he wasn’t showing any signs. I’m not looking forward to the 8-12 weeks post op but he’ll be in good hands.

  25. I was wondering a couple things from all of you sweet people that have had the surgery on their furbabies. Did most of you have insurance that covers this $5000 bill? And second my baby only has a partial tear and i am wondering if you were given any other surgery options? Thank you for answering me, I am in quite a whirlwind here.

    1. Hi Eileen! I did not have insurance on my pup 🙁 I wanted to reply to your post because I was offered another surgery option and it did not work for us. I went to 3 surgeons for an initial consult and 1 told me that we should try a procedure of ligament replacement first. It was the same cost as tplo but the draw for me was that he would be walking again in 10 days and not need the extensive crate rest etc etc. Well long story short it did not work, my dog continued to limp and then we were told he had a bone spur on his knee so we had a 2nd surgery with this same vet ($1,100). Three months later, still limping. At this point I did not trust what the vet was saying and took him to one of the surgeons I had met initially for consult. He most definitely needed tplo, the first surgery of ligament replacement was not holding up at all and now his meniscus was also torn etc etc. On top of that where the first surgeon had made the incisions had completely unaligned his knee so on top of the plate for tplo he needed an additional implant to be slung across his knee cap to keep everything aligned. I am THRILLED to say that Walter is doing great now but it’s been a long road. He had the tplo surgery in the beginning of Nov and the implant put in in the beginning of December. He was able to start 10 min walks last week. So he is about 11 weeks post tplo now. To think that I did the alternative surgery first to avoid how long he would be out of commission but in actuality it made it all last so much longer. His initial transplant surgery was at the end of July. I would highly advise you have an experienced surgeon look at his x-rays before going with an alternative route. Best of luck to you. The road is long but the tips on this post by lajolla mom are extremely helpful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. I have a big labrador so instead of a crate I use this bigger pen from amazon (it’s awesome) so that he can turn around with the cone on and sleep comfortably etc.

      1. Thank You Nicole 😊 This helped alot! Did any of the vets say anything about TTA? This is such a huge decision and I am goong GOOGLE crazy because there are so many people for and against TPLO.

      2. Hi! How long until your dog has stopped limping? We are about 2 weeks post op and he’s still limping. Some times of the day are worse than others.

    2. My dog had a partial tear for a year and a half without surgery. I just limited his off-leash exercise. Only reason I did this is because I couldn’t afford the upfront cost. My dog is recovering from it now. We’re currebtky at the end of week 2. I’ve heard people doing therapy now before it becomes a full year but I’m not sure.

      1. We started our guy on cold laser and massage the day after he was released from the hospital. He’ll do that twice a week. We will add in the hydrotherapy after week 2.

    3. Thank you Eileen,,,I am going through the exact same thing with my boy, He has a partial tear in both legs, with the one being worse that the other right now, And I Just got the estimate for his surgery at around $4500, which doesn’t even include Rehab…I’m so worried how am I going to afford this, not once buy twice..I had 2 Surgical Consults, with one Surgeon advising me they would do a CCL surgery and it would only be between $1600-$1800..and the other surgeon wants to do a TPLO which is the $4500 surgery.. Does anyone know what the difference is between the surgeries? Is there a better success rate with the TPLO vrs the CCL?? Is one better than the other if my dog is under 30 lbs?? Is one better is he is extremely over active..hard to keep him calm.. He is a Jack Russel mix..ugh. Any advice would be so appreciated.. need to do something soon…he has been hurting and limping since August now…:( thank you for any advice you all can give..Need to get him some relief soon

  26. This was helpful! Thank you. My dog is having surgery today TPLO on both legs. He is a very active, young dog-not quite 2 , so we decided to get it over with in one shot. My boss’s dog had one done in Oct. and then the other last week. I figured why put him through it twice. I don’t crate, so that is what I am worried about the most, him being so unhappy being crated. We will work through it!

    1. We just did TPLO on my 2 year old pup today and just looking at him is breaking my heart. As a lot of other people posting have mentioned they only got one leg done. Just curious, how is your dog managing? It’s been really hard trying to get him to go outside for the bathroom and has already had an accident indoors

  27. We are having his right leg done tomorrow. He had the left leg done last June. This blog was the most helpful thing. I must have referred and re-read it 100 times. I am so nervous because he didn’t do well under the anesthesia last time. He had to stay longer, since it took longer for him to fully come out of it. I just hope that when all is said and done, he enjoys the “good” life as much as possible. He’s a rescue and we’ve only had him 3 years, but I want him to know that we love him so much! I’m just a total wreck.

  28. Even though I was crying reading this posting I cannot thank you enough for showing what I can come to expect after his surgery. We are very close and attached, he is my ESA, as well as my kids attachment to him as well.

    My baby (rescued pitbull) was diagnosed with dual ruptured cruciates in October 2017. Due to financial constraints, I was finally able to get his surgery scheduled for this coming February 22. Since than he has been on a glucosamine pill as well as previcox daily.

    I have already prepared for him to be at work with me for as long as he needs to be after his surgery. Again, thank you so much for your detailed postings.

  29. For those who considering doing the TPLO surgery(or any knee surgery for that matter) here is my story. Keep in mind that I do think surgery is sometimes necessary but rarely. I am not a vet but I have first hand knowledge.
    My two year old American Bulldog (Hector) was diagnosed
    with having torn his cranial cruciate ligament(CCL) and the vet said I should do the TPLO surgery without delay and that most likely the other knee would have the same issues. Cost was to be $3800 per knee. The cost did make me pause but it wasn’t the deciding factor. The surgery seemed far to invasive and that a lot could go wrong. So I did a LOT of research on TPLO surgeries and other surgeries. In the end I decided to give my dog some time and managed his activity level very carefully. I also gave him homeopathy and MSM and tried to stay away from traditional pain killers as much as possible. It took him awhile to learn how to move without hurting himself and to learn his limitations but with me making sure he didn’t overdo it he began to recover to the point of just being stiff on that side. His muscling did atrophy on that side as well. Then just when it looked like he was for sure on the path to recovery the other knee (on his good side) went as well. After that it was three days of him not using his hind end hardly at all just to touch down to balance and barely that. He is a very athletic dog and could actually get around somewhat only using his front legs. Anyway at that point I was thinking that surgery was definitely going to be needed and scheduled an appointment. During the wait however Hector rapidly improved to the point of weight bearing on both hind legs. I decided to get more second opinions and called many vets in other areas. Finally I found one that actually suggested that I just give it time and that it was normal for re-injury to occur and possibly several times before recovery. I took heart in this and having sprained my own ankle very severely several times I knew that it can take a long time for recovery, years.
    So I continued with the homeopathy and MSM and other joint supplements as well as taking him for at least three short walks a day. When he started to trot on the walks I knew things were looking up (typically a dog that is very sore on the rear legs will not trot but will try to lope, or bunny hop). Yes there were days where he had gotten excited and did too much or just moved wrong and then was sore for a few days. This went on for many months. Finally he was no longer sore or even stiff unless something really exciting happened (like somebody he hadn’t seen for a long time came for a visit and he just MUST wiggle, and wiggle some more).
    Then he was no longer ever sore even after a good run but his knees did have an audible clicking, clunking sound until he was warmed up. Now however 1 and half years from the very first injury he is completely recovered and all his muscling is back on his hind end. He is never sore and there is never any clicking in his joints. He is an active, bouncy dog again and so pleased to have his legs working perfectly again. As am I!!! There were many times that I wondered if I was making the right choice by not doing surgery but now I am so glad that I did not. I do not think that any surgery would have allowed him to recover to this extent. I have know other people’s dogs that did have the surgery and they did not recover as Hector has and develop arthritis later on. So far Hector has no sign of arthritis, for awhile during his recovery his knees were thickened with a lot of scar tissue but that has disappeared now. If his knees are thicker than before the injuries its pretty hard to tell. If you didn’t know he had been injured you would never guess.
    I hope this has been helpful.

  30. I just was reading this to get a feel for other people’s recovery experience. We have our 2 week followup tomorrow to get the staples out and our boy is still reluctant to use that leg to walk, but does when we remind him to use it and walk slowly enough. He’s only 25 lbs and very strong so tripod hopping seems preferable to him more than I would like at this point.

    Anyway, I’m posting just to suggest that Spam is an easy and inexpensive “pill hider.” Louie even sniffs every little chunk of spam to inspect for a pill but still ultimately swallows it whole quite happily. Not something I’d give to him regularly but with so many meds every day, I had to find something stinky and also easily swallowable. It works like a charm!

  31. HI, I am in San Diego and doing this surgery Monday for my dog. Can you tell me where you did the rehab after the surgery?
    Thank you!

  32. Has anyone had both knees die at the same time? Our 16 month old Rottweiler was diagnosed today with a degenerative condition. She requires arthroscopy on her elbow first then recommended TPLO as soon as possible before they rupture. So was wondering what the success rate is of both knees as I’ll be taking time off work to keep her still for at least the first 3 weeks.

  33. Thank you so much for your review. May I ask where you got the 6 panel crate. If you or anyone is selling their crate I am happy to buy as I plan to do the surgery for my dog next month and am getting ready now

    Anita 310/886-9796

  34. Hi LaJollaMom. I am in desperate need, ASAP. My son’s husky had the same surgery 10-12 days ago. She will not eat. He took to back to the vet today. She has high levels of potassium and low levels of sodium. Looks like kidney failure! The surgery was all that he could afford, the vet wants another 4 grand to keep her overnight. Those funds are not available, we don’t understand how she is now in this state, previous to the surgery she was eating and hobbling around. Have you heard of this? Please advise.

    1. I am so sorry to hear this. I get emails about the surgery, too, from readers and I haven’t heard of this. It sounds like perhaps she had another condition prior to surgery that they missed. I apologize that I don’t have any insight at all. I wish you weren’t going through this!

      1. Thank you for the response. She is worse today. We are thinking that it is the side affects from Deramaxx. She is experiencing the bad effects that we have seen listed on the web. Afraid that she is now starting kidney failure !

    2. Hi D’Andra,
      I am not a vet so this may be totally off but my dog had similar symptoms including high potassium levels and it turned out to be Leptospirosis. The vet thought it was a long shot when she tested because it’s so rare but I guess cases have been popping up in San Diego. It’s easy to treat once diagnosed; just medication course.
      Again, I am not in a position to recommend anything but your post made me think of the scare we went through with our dog.
      I hope your dog makes a full recovery whatever it is.
      Good luck

      1. Hi Anna,
        Thank you for the posting. Had your dog recently have TPLO? I will tell my son about your pup and he can ask the vet. Thank you again.

    3. Thank you so much for this information. Our 9.5year old Shep X had TPLO last Thursday. She has become ridiculous about not eating and ferreting out her pills. I will try the suggestions recommended here. Does anyone have suggestions on how to keep her mind occupied while she recovers? She is not into games (like find the treat), so I am at a loss there. I welcome any recommendations.

      Thank you! Happy healing to everyone!

      1. Have you taken your dog to massage or cold fusion therapy yet? It really helped our 9 year old bulldog. He has some much more energy and is recovering much faster this time.

    4. The high potassium and low sodium could be a sign of a Addison’s crisis. He may need the replacement steroids (because his adrenal gland is shutting down). He may have Addison’s Disease.

  35. Hi ?
    Thanks for your blog on TPLO! It’s very helpful!
    My Lucy just had TPLO surgery 5 days ago and stayed 3 nights in the hospital which was a great thing! My only worry today is that she hasn’t pooped yet. Other than that, she’s getting along good. I can’t keep her off the bed because that is where she has always slept since we rescued her as a pup. So I must stay really close to the bedroom to make sure she she doesn’t jump. She has a few times but seems to be doing ok. She eats, drinks and goes out to pee a few times a day. And she is walking pretty good on her leg and putting weight on the leg as well. She has had 3 laser therapies and has one more tomorrow with her vet/surgeon. I keep her harness and leash on her at all times. However, i took her e-collar off her and made a ‘leg sleeve’ using a toddlers xs leggings and cut one of the legs off and left the elastic waistband! It slips over her behind around her waist with legging slipped over her leg. So far it’s working great!! I also, have another dog at home and the first day was awful dealing with him and trying to take care of Lucy but I think he understands now. He’s just glad she’s back home!
    Wishing everyone a speedy recovery with their fur babies ???

  36. Katie,

    Thanks so much for writing this blog. Our German Shepherd, Saoirse, (My husband calls her Scooby) is having this surgery on Friday. I have spent the afternoon in tears. Your blog has helped.

    1. Oh good. It’s a terrible surgery but Scooby is just fine (knock on wood). I need to update this with what the last year has been like (basically fine). Good luck!

    2. Hi, Kate

      My eight year old Staffy boy had his surgery 12 weeks ago this coming Tuesday.

      He has recovered so well and we and his vet are really pleased with his progress. He’s been having twice weekly hydrotherapy for the last month and from next week, will be reducing it to once weekly. I believe this has really helped.

      Its been really challenging as we also have two other Staffies and not allowing him to play or run around with them has been hard but its been worth it.

      I reckon another four weeks and we’ll be able to relax a whole lot more.

      The first week post op was horrible as the pain meds were making him sick and a combination of them and the anaesthetic made him not interested in eating. I also had to syringe water into his mouth to keep his fluids up. He was a good boy and all I need to do for a little while longer, is crate him when we’re out so that he doesn’t go too crazy with his sister and brother.

      I wish you the very best for Scooby and her uneventful recovery. It is a big deal but better for them in the long run.

      Gay and Bodhi the Staffy.

      1. Thanks so much for your comments, Gay and Katie. We have never crated her. We are going to keep her in our bedroom. We are going to put our mattress on the floor. She has a bed in our room, too. There is not much more floor space than that in the room. My husband is building a ramp over the deck stairs to make it easier to get her back in the house. We are making a 6′ x 6′ x 1″ frame on the deck. We are lining it w a heavy plastic paint tarp and filling it w rolled sod. He is going to drill a small hole about the size of a nickel for a small plastic pipe for drainage, so we don’t have to take her off the deck to potty. Luckily, I am between jobs and can stay with her.

  37. What a fantastic article. Toby had his TPLO surgery 2 days ago without warning so we had no time to prepare and you have really helped us. Thank you

  38. Thanks to everyone, especially LaJolla Mom, for writing and commenting on this blog. It has helped so much. I was a basket case before her surgery. We were very lucky. We left Saoirse for 24 hours. She had only mild swelling which was almost gone in a couple of days and was completely gone a week later. We tried to ice it once, but she cried and didn’t like it, so we stopped. She was walking on three legs for one day only. She had no appetite problems or problems with taking her pills. It is now 8 days post surgery and you wouldn’t even know that her leg was sore. We took her cone off and stopped the pain meds on day 5 because she didn’t seem to need them, and I thought if there was any pain, it might slow her down. Keeping her quiet has been extremely difficult. Taking her out on the leash to potty, she wants to run and pulls me really hard. It is a struggle to hold her back. She wants to lunge at all the bees. It’s impossible to keep her from jumping, etc. I am really afraid she is going to mess it up. Our vet hasn’t recommended any rehab during the first 6-8 weeks. We will see if that changes Monday when we bring her in to have her stitches removed. Since she is not friendly to strangers and is a nervous wreck at the vet, She may be better off without it. She could probably hurt her leg fighting it. I’m hoping it won’t be too long after her bone is completely healed before we can take her to the dog beach, her favorite place in the whole world. It did take her 5.5 days to poop after the surgery. I had been giving her chicken and rice. The vet told me to cut out the rice because it could be binding. They also told me to give her a tablespoon of pumpkin twice a day because it would loosen things up without giving her the runs. She wouldn’t eat it plain, so I have been mixing it with 2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt which is also good to counter the antibacterial effects of the antibiotics. One thing, I’d advise against: my husband and I created a doggy potty on the deck, a 6×8 frame lined w plastic and filled with sod that we bought in rolls, we even put a pipe in for drainage. It was a complete waste of time and money. She would lay on it, but not go to the bathroom on it. We finally took her down the ramp to the back yard, and she peed for like 10 minutes straight. Even after my husband caught her pee w a disposable cup and poured it on the doggy potty, she wouldn’t use it.

    1. I can relate to almost every struggle you shared. From the sod as a sunbathing spot only to not pooping to not wanting to bring her back to vet. I so appreciate your share and knowing I wasn’t alone. My pup’s surgery was 2 years ago. In a week she goes in for the other knee. Dreading it but hoping muscle memory for both of us kicks in, and that it’s more smooth this go round.

  39. What a helpful article! My 10 yr old pit mix is having the surgery this Thursday, so I appreciate the guidance, and your photos are pitch-perfect. (My staffy is as deathly afraid of the water as your Scooby, too.) I went to UCSD so this article touched close to home in many aspects. Thanks very much.

  40. Many thanks for your post, Katie! Our Schnoodle, Lexi, is going in for TPLO on Monday and I’m so glad that I came across this. My husband, and I, are dreading it as she is an active dog. I really appreciated your details and feel more at ease with what to expect.

    1. Hi, Katie and Lexi
      It is pretty daunting when your pup has to have this surgery especially when they’re really active.
      My eight and a half year old Staffy boy, Bodhi is now 14.5 weeks post surgery and has recovered brilliantly. Being a Staffy he is so hyper and to make things more difficult we also have another boy and a girl Staffy. The first two weeks were the hardest but we managed.
      I’m confident of you follow the vet’s Instructions Lexo will make a perfect recovery, as has Bodhi.

      If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.
      Best wishes
      Gay Price (and Bodhi).

      1. Hi Gay, We have a Staffy that is getting surgery in a few weeks too and I’m really worrying about it because as you said, Staffies are unique in that they always want to be involved and are drama queens. Although she is used to a crate, I am worried about her getting down or bored whilst being contained. How did you cope with keeping yours happy but confined? Thank you!

      2. Hi Gay, My 10-month old Pit Bull mix Manny is having a knee surgery next week (he can’t get full TPLO in one surgery because of an old injury so he will need multiple surgeries poor guy). The part I am most nervous about is how to keep him apart from my two-year-old dog–they are both going to miss each other and be uptight about being on the other side of the door–I will be setting up a room with no furniture for Manny’s recovery. Any advice that you have about managing the multi-dog household post-surgery would be super helpful. Both Manny and Riley are young and active and love to wrestle and this is one of the things I’m most nervous about. Thank you!

  41. In December after noticing a limp our regular Vet said, that her hips weren’t good. She had a couple of other episodes treated with Galliprant and limp resolved but activity has been less. Recently after another incident of limping following running hard the Vet wanted to take another X-ray of her legs and hips together because this time she wanted to rule out a knee injury. Vet said knees were fine. I decided to go with my gut and go see an orthopedic Veternarian. According to a board certified orthopedic Veternarian our mini golden doodle, Lily needs TPLO surgery for a torn ACL. This orthopedic surgeon said her hips are fine !!!!! I am upset because this specialist never mentioned that there are other procedures to repair a torn ACL. At the very least he could of said why he chose the TPLO !!! I guess I’m just venting and trying to figure out the right thing to do by loving pet !!! Thank you for your blog and anyone who has recent experience with this please feel free to reply. Thank you !

    1. Hi France, my dog has torn both of her ACLs. For the first ACL, we were hesitant to do such an invasive and expensive surgery as TPLO, so we did the tightrope surgery. She had many complications because she is a VERY active dog (border collie/lab) and the surgery had to be redone twice. We should have done TPLO the first time around. I don’t feel that the risks/benefits were adequately explained for each surgery to us. Last week, she had the TPLO surgery on her other ACL and she is already recovering very nicely and walking on the leg. I think the TPLO gives active dogs a better quality of life.

  42. Thanks so much for your post. We just got back from the emergency vet and was told our 11 year old lab has a torn cruciate. We follow up with our regular vet tomorrow. Surgery is in order I believe. Your words are comforting. Hope your fur baby enjoys a long and healthy life. Adorable.

  43. Wow, this blog is just what I needed TODAY! Thank you all 🙂 – I am so comforted by the many ‘nervous mommas’, as I am right there with you. My 1 year old female bulldog, Tiny Zoe, had her first TPLO surgery 1 week ago, and it is breaking my heart to see her so bummed out. But reading this blog has been so helpful to read all of your comments. One thing we do is take her around the block or up to the coffee shop riding in a Radio Flyer red wagon with a skid proof pad in it. She seems to love getting out while she is in these early days of recovery. A second surgery is likely in our future, so having a community out there is so helpful. Thank you!

    1. Update on Tiny Z at 8 weeks, HUGE difference, and the despair I was feeling at 1-2 weeks had me a wreck. They do become active again, those first few weeks are so stressful for the dog and the family. Hang in there and do reach out to your community, it is definitely helpful!

  44. Thank you so much for this blog! And all the positive commenters too. My 9 year old Chocolate Lab Gibson is scheduled for surgery on the 18th of this month. Sooner if they get a cancellation. I’m a wreck. This blog helps a great deal. I feel now like I have a strategy and I’ll start gathering the things we’ll need. He’s very active, typical lab, but also very sweet and happy go lucky. Great to see so many successful surgeries. I’m taking a deep breath now and just hoping we can get him to the 18th with the other knee still healthy.

    1. How did he make out Jemma my five year old chocolate lab goes in on Tuesday. I haven’t slept in a week. I’m so afraid for her. Jemma doesn’t usually go in a crate. Not sure how much room she is suppose to have to move around. I have baby gate the stairs. I am one of those owner who said they would never let their dog sleep with them. She has anxiety if routine is out of order. She knows something is up cause we havent been able to walk her. She sits outside with us with her collate on leashes up. She can regularly sit in our yard and not move for hours. I started changing things up to prepare her. How did u mange to get her to go to the bathroom. Please any advise u can help me with would be great

    2. Update: Gibson did great! We are now in week 10 of recovery. We walk 1 to 1.5 miles 2x a day. X-rays at 8/weeks showed the bone was 95% healed. He still limps a tiny bit after a long walk, he had quite a lot of muscle loss, so we’re building that up. He is off leash most of the time while we are home. We keep him on leash in the yard at night just in case Possum Stu comes around. And he is on leash for his walks of course. He’s on Cosoquin DS. A group that helped us a great deal was TopDog Animal Health and Rehabilitation. We aren’t done with rehab but he is happy and healthy once again! Good luck everyone.

  45. Thank you for your informative post. Our 9 year old Golden has just had her 2nd TPLO done. We hope she will enjoy full quality of life following this. When she injured her left knee, we were told she has hip dysplasia as well, and likely would need the 2nd one done too. We were sad when the limping started, as we knew they were right. Your post gave some great suggestions and helped to remind us of the time line. Thanks so much!

  46. Greetings La Jolla Mom!
    It was fun and informative to read your journal about Scooby’s TPLO surgery. Loved the narrative and the photos are great! Glad to hear you are all doing well!
    Our dog, Lucky (an 80 ib. 7 yr old Lab/Shepherd) just had the proceedure done this last Monday. We are on Day 5 and things seems to be moving along so far with no unexpected problems. It has not been easy on either my husband, me or most importantly, our sweet Lucky Boy. He also has a bad left hip which we hope and pray will not also require surgery.
    I do have one question for you or anyone reading this: Our Orthopedic Vet told us that there is a 1 in 300 chance that Lucky could develop bone cancer. Apparently , the bone leeches something toxic from the metal plate. He recommends that if the dog has a good many years of life expectancy ahead that it be removed a year after surgery. I have not heard anyone on this blog mention that. Anyone hear of that before? Curious.
    Thanks again for sharing your story.
    Pití G. Witherow

  47. I’m so thankful to have found your blog posts about Scooby’s surgery. My pitbull Sam is scheduled for TPLO on Thursday 6/28 and I’ve been feeling nervous and overwhelmed about the aftercare for Sam and your posts and tips have put me a bit at ease.

  48. I can’t thank you enough for this blog post. I’m bringing my Lola home tomorrow after bilateral TPLO on Friday. I am far less nervous and more prepared thanks to you. I’ve worked in healthcare for 23, most of that in critical care but this has been so intimidating. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  49. Where were all of your dogs 9 weeks after surgery? My dog went in at 6 weeks, and they said the x ray looked good. They told me to still not let her outside off leash, just increase her walks. I didn’t tell her that she had been off leash for a few weeks already. It just seems like overkill to keep her on a leash for 14 weeks. She was impossible to keep quiet from the beginning. She is really strong and quick. Early on I forgot to shut the basement door, and there she was flying down the steps. It’s 9 weeks, today; do you think it would be a mistake for me to bring her to the dog beach and throw tennis balls for her? She has been running in the back yard for weeks.

    1. Hi Kate. It sounds like your dog is having a quick recovery – great news. We took Lexi in for her 6 week check-up last week and the doctor told us that she was still healing. She is 7 years old so there was no concern. She is feeling her oats, like your dog, and wants to conquer the stairs and couch but we are keeping her as quiet (as possible) since we don’t want to go through this again. One thing I discussed with the doctor was throwing the tennis ball as I have talked to several people that said their dog tore their ACL chasing, and jumping for, the ball. In one case it was the other leg after the first one healed. She noted that many dogs aren’t conditioned for this and that can lead to a torn ACL. Every dog is different with their daily activities, and it might not be the case with your dog, but I thought I would pass this on since it was news to me. Best of luck as your dog continues to recover!

  50. I’m so relieved finding your post- my Akita is having his surgery this morning and we will pick him up tomorrow.
    He has partially torn the cruciate and also the outer meniscus.
    We’re shopping today for a mattress so we can sleep downstairs with him until he’s able to go up a flight of stairs! This is going to be an experience for us as well as my Kodi.
    Should I pick up supplements today?

  51. Thank you so much for this. I read it a week ago when our dog was diagnosed with a torn ACL and we scheduled surgery for today. She is a blue heeler cattle dog and while she did well with the surgery and the surgeon was very pleased with the results, she is pretty zonked on pain meds to even get off her bed and without the pain meds is clearly in a lot of pain. So I’ll be sleeping beside her on a mattress I brought downstairs tonight and looking forward to a better day tomorrow, I hope. In any case, your blog has really helped with our expectations! Thank you! (Btw, our son used to work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla and when we visit from Chicago, I’m always out there painting en plein air. Beautiful area as you know!!

  52. Thanks so much for all of your advice. We had ACL surgery on our 6 year old pit-bull mix in February and he just re-tore it.
    Tomorrow he is going in for TPLO surgery and I was so depressed knowing we would be going through this again. Reading your blog made me feel that the TPLO surgery is the right choice for him and hopefully he won’t re-injure it again!

    I was excited that we were almost done paying off the last surgery!!! Also, some advice for those (Like me) who can’t pay upfront — The CareCredit card saved us as we didn’t have to pay any interest if paid off in six months. We will do the same tomorrow but hope for a longer term on the payments.

    1. was the first surgery you had on your pit-bull mix’s ACL injury tplo or no, just the 2nd time? Also how is he doing, what do you think in regards to the tplo?

      thanks so much

  53. So I was skimming your article looking for something to help my friend whose dog just had double TPLO and saw the word ‘e-collar’, so I backtracked and saw that you were referring to the ‘cone of shame’ – thank god, I was really worried you had an actual e-collar (which is an electric or shock collar) on your poor boy that just had surgery! Maybe change that wording in your article so others aren’t ‘shocked’ (lol!) by it??

    1. Some people call it an E collar because that is how the veterinarian refers to it as short for Elizabethan Collar. It never crossed my mind that it could be a shock collar! Scary!

    2. I have worked for a veterinarian for over 25 years and have never heard of a “shock” collar referred to as an e-collar. Yes, e-collar is short for Elizabethan collar, (the cone of shame). “Shock” collar is short for electronic shock collar. Lol.

  54. Thank you so much for this. My bull terrier goes in for TPLO surgery in about 6 hours. I am so nervous I can’t sleep (which is how I found your article). This has definitely calmed my nerves some. Just crossing my fingers this works for him (not a CCL issue, he has other leg issues they are hoping this will fix).

  55. Reading these comments makes me feel so much better to know I am not alone in the stress of this surgery. Our doberman Jade had TPLO surgery and we are one week out. We have a very strict surgeon who does not want her to do anything but go potty and then back in the crate for the entire first 8 weeks. She is going stir crazy already, so I am not sure how I am going to do this for another seven weeks. The sedatives do not keep her down long. She refuses to take pills, and boy were there so many pills the first week. I have resorted to shoving them down her throat because she spits them out or won’t take them at all. In the last two days when she has drank water she just pukes up all her food and pills. She is eating, drinking, pooping, and peeing great, so I am sure she is ok and just puking to puke. I sleep next to her on the floor and she wakes me up about every 30 minutes. She just wants to cuddle, so sometimes I crawl next to her and let her fall back asleep in my arms. My husband works nights, so I have been doing this on my own majority of the time. We have stairs to go outside, so I have to hold her back-end up with a towel and haul her down the ramp. Our surgeon wants us to keep supporting her back-end the entire eight weeks, which walking around and around the back yard while holding her up with a towel is getting pretty frustrating. Her stitches are internal and the bandage cover finally peeled off last night. Now I have to try to keep her from licking it. I tried the cone of shame, but she jumps around and tries to shake it off or scratch it off with her hurt leg. I was afraid she would hurt herself more with it on then with it off, so I gave up. My body hurts, I am tired, I am frustrated, and I just cry some days. My advice so far is to mentally prepare yourself for some really trying times.

    1. I found this blog so helpful myself a few weeks ago after going through our first TPLO surgery for our 1 year old bulldog. There are some moments when you question if you and your dog can get through it, and you will. I was in such despair 2-weeks post surgery, I was afraid I made a huge mistake. But shortly after, Zoe started getting stronger and started putting weight down. Now at 12-weeks post surgery, we are getting ready to have her other leg done, and I am getting anxious again, but I know after seeing how strong her first surgery leg is, that she will be much better for it. My back pain however, is a different story, working on recovering from back strain getting the dog up and down stairs. Take care of your health during the process! We found the dog slings with long handles, helps to lift her up the stairs while she puts weight on her front legs and one back leg.

      Keep posting, the support is out here, I am so grateful to have a community that understands the stresses, but can also reinforce with each other, that our pups will be better in a few weeks/months, which will improve the quality of their life for the next several years!


      1. I was totally terrified as well. Now at 3 weeks out things are so much better. I scaled back her sedatives even! She is happy, eating well, finally peeing good. Her incision looked great at her follow up last week. Her leg was really shaking and the vet said it was normal and from unstable support from her muscles. Now this week the shaking is gone. We are letting her explore a little more with the hind supporter as we walk her around to where she wants to go – only in the house and yard so far. She does not seem phased other than I see her sniffing the leg sometimes. The swelling is also almost completely gone. Week three has been so much smoother and I only see improvement from here! Best of luck with your girl!

  56. Thanks for this!

    My 60 lb. lab Beau went through the surgery >4 years ago on the right leg when he was 9 1/2 years old, so I’ve been through all of this before!

    This past Sunday (>4 yrs later) — he had *another* complete ACL tear on the other side (the left side). I always knew there was always a good chance it’ll happen to the joint on the other leg because they say there’s approx. 40%-6% chance it’ll happen because they tend to favor the other joint after surgery! However, it tends to happen within the first year or so, so I felt that we were “in the clear”, but guess you are never “in the clear”!

    Beau is now 13 1/2 and he has arthritis and laryngeal paralysis and can’t jump on the bed, so he is very much an old lab, but otherwise he can still walk 2 miles a day and his bloodwork and x-rays look great.

    Based on the way he was walking after the tear and the vet’s assessment, I decided we should go ahead with the surgery again. I’m a little heartbroken, but he’s doing okay after 48 hours. It’s just a whole lot harder this time! The recovery is much, much slower thus far. Still, I’m keeping up hope that everything will work out again.

  57. Thank you for this great read. My bullmastiff has to go for not one TPLO surgeries but two. Back left and right. They can do both at same time. Thank you!

    1. Just wanted to share my story with you all… We have a very active 11 year old german Shepherd , who required tplo surgery on her left rear..She is now 3 weeks out and doing AWESOME !!! The first few days were tough, with wearing the come helping her in and out of the house over 3 steps with a sling…But I have to say we are very pleased with her progress and glad we did it! We were very apprehensive having it done and the time commitment and her age… but all is well so far..we are doing home therapy , we built some cavaletis , take her to the beach to walk in the water and sand, and are gradually building up… We hope she will be running again soon ! Good luck to all, it will work out!

    2. Our wolfhound mix needs both done at the same time. Have you had the surgery yet? How is it going? We’re trying to prepare ourselves for what to expect.

      1. We are picking up our Border Collie today after surgery yesterday. Our vet told us if a dog needs both done, they stagger them for easier recovery. May be worth asking. I’ll update how we do in the coming weeks. I’m terribly worried because Anna bounces everywhere and runs all the time. I think it’s going to be a long road ahead of us.
        Good luck with your fur baby.

    3. I just brought Sally Mae home from Bilateral TPLO. Do you have any advice or tips for me? She weighs about 95 pounds, so she is a pretty big girl. Can you share an update on your pups progress to date?

  58. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Our mastiff mix just had surgery on his ACL yesterday and it’s been rough to say the least on my partner and I. Reading this helps remind us we’re not alone in this.

    Thank you!

  59. I really appreciate the post. My dog had surgery August 16th. He’s a 23lb shitzu and yorkie (or so they said. He looks like Benji). It’s been 9 days, and he is so stir crazy! He’s used to several mile walks, so he’s not happy with such short ones. I’ve been letting him walk a bit, then carrying him a block, then repeat. We haven’t gone a full two blocks yet because I’m worried for him. We never go off leash because we live in a condo and we have no fenced yard.

    I’m glad you mentioned the water rehab. There’s one near us, and I wasn’t sure because of the extra cost. (I don’t have insurance, and the surgery was 5K). I’m going to try it because he’s such a happy little buddy that I want him to get the exercise and motion back in his leg.

    Thanks again for the post.

  60. Thank you so, so, so, so much for this post. My old english bulldog Rosie (age 3.5) is staying the night at the vet tonight after her TPLO this morning, and I feel like I know what I need to go grab at the store in the morning before I pick her up. I seriously can’t thank you enough for writing down your experience. Here’s to getting through the next eight weeks quickly and safely!

  61. This was so spot on!!!! We read this just before we brought our Cane Corso Xena in for her TPLO surgery. It helped us to understand what to expect. Well it is now going on week two and so far everything has been the same. Our girl is a very active 4 year old and has never been crated. Her bed is our full size couch. So we had to isolate her to a back room of our home and we have been taking turns sleeping with her at night. She has been putting more pressure on the leg but also holds it up when standing still. I can’t thank you enough for your honest and accurate journal of this very difficult surgery. Actually I should say difficult recovery.

  62. Tiny Zoe the Bulldog, 1 year and 4 months, is 3 weeks into her 2nd TPLO surgery and if any of you need to have the 2nd leg done, it is MUCH better on the pooch and the parent. All know what to expect this time around, and the first surgery leg is so much stronger that Tiny Z feels much more confident in getting herself around. She did NOT lose muscle mass as she did with the first surgery, and does not seem as depressed. Restarting Rehab tomorrow! 🙂

  63. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories! My seven and half year old chocolate lab will be headed to have this surgery in the next few weeks! I feel so many mixed emotions about doing the surgery, but after reading all of your stories I do feel better!

    1. Hi. My female boxer Jada had her TPLO surgery 11/5/18. She has a lot of swelling and bruising but is using her rear left leg some. I purchased a dog trailer/stroller with a 110 lb capacity so that I can walk my other boxer and push her. She really enjoys the fresh air, smells, and sights. Maybe this can work for your dogs too!

      1. My dog is 4 months post-op.. She is a 11 yo German Shepherd , she is back to running like the wind, no restrictions.. I am cautious with her, would prefer to avoid a second surgery if at all possible on the other side…. But we are glad we had the surgery done… she is 100 times better! Makes us smile, to see her run again! She is a happy girl !

  64. This was SUCH great info on this blog.
    Our 3 year old pit bull has to have TPLO and we found this NEW book on Amazon a huge helper.
    Maybe it will help you too.
    The Essential Dog Owner’s Manual for CCL Injury: What to Do Before, During & After Surgery.

  65. Thank you for this blog! It has such great detailed info and has helped me prepare for surgery and recovery. We are taking our 8-1/2 yr old black Lab “Madison” in today (Nov 12, 2018). I’m dreading it, but know it’s the only way to get her walking again. Thanks for sharing your story! PS I’m a former So Cal native of 40yrs, now living in Atlanta, GA.

  66. For anyone struggling with medications, I highly recommend flavorless gel capsules which can be found on Amazon in various sizes (Capsuline brand, etc.). They do an awesome job masking bitter tastes or smells associated with many medications, and you can coat them in various foods (peanut butter, cheese, canned food, etc.) for further enticement and to smooth digestion. Usually dogs will eat the capsule and food coating without biting down, so it makes medication delivery quick (even for stubborn pups). Our pittie was notorious for rejecting his meds regardless of what foot you put it in, but the gel capsules worked great with him.

  67. Wanted to update: My Lab (8-1/2 yrs) had a successful TPLO surgery! The first two weeks we were diligent about keeping her confined to a large wire playpen with a bed inside. Wearing the cone for 2 weeks was harder on me than on her. She only wore it at night to sleep as she did not try to lick her leg during the day. We covered her staples loosely with a child’s leg warmer, so her incision was covered but her foot remained exposed to walk. It’s week 3 post surgery, and she is walking 10min a day! She feels good even though her leg (bone) is not healed yet. She has a good disposition so the recovery has been much easier than anticipated. I have to time her walks, so she doesn’t overdo it. She no longer picks up her leg as in pre-Surgery. She wants to run around the coffee table, so we have to stop her from doing this hopefully by week 6 or 8 she can play chase in the house (on carpeted areas of course). Her black fur is slowly growing back in patches on her hip area, the leg is growing back more evenly and quickly. I’m relieved it’s over. Relieved it was successful. Happy to see her walking again and wanting to run and play! Worth every bit of the $4600!

  68. I’m Breezie and I just had TPLO surgery and we are at a hotel on the ground floor near the potty spot because there are soooooo many stairs to get into my house and I am a 108lb girl. I don’t like to potty in public. So when I finally had to go so bad I sat in it a little, cause I had to squat for so long. So mom says to other mom’s for those girls who are shy of public poops be prepared to clean us up(bottom of tail. and all around girly parts. (front to back)… But my mom wanted me to tell you about medicine YUMMY!! She buys the Greenies pill pockets from costco pharmacy or the vet. Other brands are okay but not as soft. So thanks for the recovery advice. It’s time for my cold compress. _ Breezie and Kiliki

  69. My Jack Russell Terrier is having TPLO surgery on both of her rear legs (!) in a couple weeks, and I’m thinking through all the logistical things I need to prepare for. Your article is very helpful – thank you for sharing your experience!

  70. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to write this article! Our 1 yr old pit had TPLO surgery today and I’m nervously anticipating what the recovery will be like. Even though it sounds like it’s going to be very labor intensive, I know what to expect (in general). I added your recommended products to my Amazon cart awaiting recs from the vet tomorrow when we pick her up. Thanks again!

  71. Hi, I wish I would have read your post before my rottie had a double tplo surgery. But if someone happens to get around to reading my post, let me tell what went wrong with my dog’s surgeries.

    My dog was 6 and February 14th he had the first plate put in. He was really drowsy and it took three of us to carry him to my room, where his bed was waiting. I cried a bunch :/ he took 16 pills in the morning, 4 midday, 14 at night. It was a lot, and eventually, it got to the point where I was stuffing them in hotdogs and sticking them down his throat because he would not take them. Not fun…
    The next leg surgery was more of the same stuff but eventually, he didn’t fight me when I put the pills down his throat. He has a bit of a compulsive habit where he used to chew at his butt because the sounds of flies made him associate that the flies were biting him. SO his leg-holes did not heal as fast as they should have because he managed to break cones and pull off the leg sleeve, and obsessively licking them.

    A year(?) later we noticed a couple of bumps that felt like they were filled with fluid, so eventually, we took him back to the vet and they discovered he had an infection. Not just in the flesh, but on the bone and amongst the metal plates and screws. They tell us that antibiotics won’t work because that will travel through the lymph/blood, but that won’t reach the bone.

    Next surgery was both plates removed (omg those screws were a lot bigger than I thought), which wasn’t horrible, he could still walk, and before long he was trying to play. Those wounds also had the same problem because he broke 6 Elizabethan cone collars. He would tear them going out the dog door, and on corners, and our legs, and literally everything at his face height. He then opened up an inch hole where the plate was, so I had to squirt lidocaine and an antibiotic into the wound three times a day.

    Of course, I take responsibility for what happened, its hard to take care of a dog that weights the same as me (150) and attend full-time classes and work. He healed well and since the horses were scared of him with the cone, we called him “Cone-head the Barbarian”. Thank you for reading, Cannon is telling me its time for dinner, so I will end this here.

  72. I am so sorry your Scooby went thru this painful tplo surgery. We almost bought the tplo too. The vet tried to sell us it was the gold standard, literally for the price of it, it was. I had pet insurance that covered 90% of tplo surgery but I just couldn’t put my large old dog thru this painful surgery, matter how hard the vet tried to convince us to buy tplo or tta surgery. I read that there is a 40% higher risk of bone cancer at the site of the tplo surgery at the amva and so many dogs die from bone cancer after going thru a tplo. That is terrible, go thru a painful knee surgery then die from bone cancer. I lucked out searching and saw there was a ccl acl custom posh dog knee brace featured at the VMX World Veterinary Expo. We decided to go with the poshdogkneebrace and from the time the vet techs had the brace fitted properly, the posh brace supported the knee for daily dog walks from day one. No down time. We did short dog walks twice a day, and the dog walks with the support of the posh brace, were getting longer as her knee got stronger. In the house, she was walking normally without the brace, but we used the support of the posh brace for dog walks for several months till the knee had recovered that we could stop using the brace. Try the posh brace first, as it is very effective in supporting the dog knee so the knee can recover and your dog can be walking normally with no down time, get the brace on and start short dog walks from day one. This posh brace was a lifesaver.

  73. Hi, thank you for your story. My 10-year-old dog had TPLO surgery today. This is his 2nd TPLO surgery (he had his other leg done less than 2 years ago). The surgeon just called telling me everything went well but he cannot believe this knee lasted 10 years! He had a 34-degree slope which is equivalent to parking a car on a very steep hill in SF. I am frightened for his return home tomorrow because I just had a baby so now things will be much harder on me, and I remember the recovery all too well. It took my boy 5 months to recover last time. He loves sleeping on couches and beds, so confining him and restraining him from jumping on furniture was so difficult. He refuses to go into a crate and I’m fearful to force it so this time, I got a playpen that can be both a playpen or a long gate so will see about a set-up near our screen door that leads to the yard.

  74. I posted this a little while back regarding ligaments not physically being able to ‘mend’ once torn, and to beware of cancer scare stories that may prevent people taking action to relieve their pet from pain and give them back their full mobility, but it hasn’t appeared. Tried again today and was told ‘looks as though you’ve already posted that comment’ (well yes, but no sign of it!). As my sole reason for posting is my concern regarding the well-being of dogs – I’m just a fellow dog owner with current, direct experience of this surgery; I have no business interests nor axe to grind – it would be great if someone could advise me why my original comment appears to have been rejected. Many thanks.

  75. Brock is going in for his second TPLO today. He should be the second surgery of the day, which means he should likely be in the operating room right now. We’re taking our king-sized bed off of the frame and placing it directly onto the floor. One of us will sleep w/ him on the bed, the other in a guest room. Last time I found this to be an effective measure of keeping him calm and allowing him to stretch out. We’ll take shifts for the next few weeks. Luckily I can work remotely although I remember last time I didn’t get anything done for the first two weeks. I feel so bad for our buddy. His right TPLO was titanium w/ 8 non-locking screws and this one will be stainless steel w/ 6 locking screws.

    For pill administration I remember he also would find every pill, even in macaroni and cheese. Then he developed a self-defense mechanism of which involved salivating upon sight of pills and shaking his head everywhere. My new pill-administration tactic involves manually opening his mouth while consoling him, and forcing it down his throat with a whole finger as far down as it goes. Works great then we congratulate him and he’s pretty happy about praise.
    TPLO’s are brutal but worth it to get our pals their quality of life back.

  76. Thank you so much La Jolla mom for posting your experience of Scoobys TPLO, Im glad that he is doing well. It is a relief reading about your experience and also the commenters.

    My 10 year old German Shepherdx started limping after playing fetch. I was worried i took him to the vet straight away and confirmed the ACL tear. I booked him in for TPLO surgery two days later (to try save the other leg from failing as well).

    He is now 6 days post OP and caring for him has been constant but it is getting easier. I’ve started to keep him staked at the backyard with 1-2metres of leash so he can get some fresh air and sun. He just sleeps most of the time. At night i keep him on the floor of my room or in his crate.

    He is sometimes wildly energetic inside the house. I worry that hes going to injure himself so i try to calm him down by giving him massages and doing stretches/PROM.

    It took him 4.5 days after surgery to poop. I had to give a laxative after day 3 as recommended by the surgeon.

    His diet has been 1/4 of what he usually eats. I found hand feeding the food in small batches more successful. The surgeon gave me a big syringe to force hydrate him but i found that if i form my hand into a cup and slowly squirt the syringe into it he drinks it all!

    Also FYI i found a free guide here that was also a good source of post op care: https://www.topdoghealth.com/rehab_guides/tplo-home-rehab-guide/


  77. My 4 year old Akita will be undergoing TPLO surgery in a little over a month and currently prepping for this. I was interested in what type of crate Scooby had in the pictures of this nicely written story of his post surgery care.
    Zorro is 90 lbs and was interested in finding out what type of crate was expandable with 6 wooden type edging panels with a top that could be placed for additional security.

    Can anyone help provide any guidance on this?

  78. Hi Sylvia, you don’t have to crate your akita Zorro. I got a posh dog knee brace which was more effective than tplo surgery, and we started on short dog walks wearing the brace from day one. No crating required. That is why we avoided the surgery, as my dog is a rescue and hates crates. No risks with a dog knee brace and no boring down time for your dog. My dog recovered completely without the surgery and without a crate. Hugs to Zorro

  79. Thanks for posting! It’s nice to hear from those who have gone through it. Our half GSP/half Cane Corso mix is going in next week for this procedure and it makes me feel so much better to have some advice and suggestions from someone who’s been through it. 🙂

  80. Thank you SO much for your blog posts on TPLO recovery. Our lab mix rescue pup Rita (who probably has some pit in her too) just had this surgery 2 days ago and it has been so helpful and reassuring following your story and journey. It’s a bit overwhelming to go through the TPLO recovery and reading your pitfalls and successes will help us with our process and her progress immensely. So much gratitude to you!

  81. Our Golden Doodle, 5 yrs old is going for this surgery in 2 days…. I’m
    Sooooo nervous! I hate that she can’t play but so badly wants to 🙁 We have no insurance so we are paying out of pocket, but from what we’ve read and from others we’ve spoken with that have gone through it….. seams like the best option!

  82. Thank you for posting this detailed recovery plan. My baby is headed in that direction and I’m trying to learn all I can. This was very helpful.

  83. Thank you SO MUCH, Scooby’s mom, for writing this journal. My boy has been through SO MUCH in the 6 years he’s been with me so when he tore his ccl, I just hung my head down and cried. But, you’ve settled some of my fears and helped me know I was making some smart decisions even before seeing the vet. (My mattress on the floor, no furniture to jump on, 24/7 supervision, etc etc).

    We rescued Channing when he was 4 months old. He came from a very abusive situation. Hurt his knee the first time at a year old. Then was diagnosed with nasal chondrosarcoma at 4 years (which he’s actually in stable disease and has been for a year+ post radiation against all odds). He underwent radiation treatments for the tumor and continues to take a mix of Chinese herbs which I swear is working. Now, after a quick dash to get the kitty, he faces TPLO surgery. We have to wait a few weeks as he’s recovering from a gum infection (bone loss from radiation caused sneaky pockets for the food to hide). Once his surgeon is SURE there’s no infection, we’ll tackle the knee. I was terrified at first but after reading about scooby’s experience, I feel much better. I’m trying to find a place that does the water treadmill and I’ve sent the information on all the supplements you use to my vet to see if they’d be a welcome addition to our regimen. I’m looking forward to getting my boy back on all 4 legs. He looks like he’s in so much pain right now and on 3 different pain meds. Thankfully they help! Wish is luck!

    1. I have no regrets about this surgery as he was like a new dog after it. It is HARD for the first few months but for us was worth it. Good luck!

  84. Great article, thank you for sharing. My 4.5 year old large mutt is getting TPLO on his R back leg in a few days. The vet said to crate him all day for 3 months. How in the world… do you think this is necessary or over kill? I have made my own giant crate contraption with a pet gazebo and some wired fencing.

  85. Hi and thank you for your informative post/site. Our 10 yo lab had TPLO surgery thursday and we brought her home this morning (today is saturday) so she is only two days post op. She has been sleeping and resting quietly in her crate all afternoon and my husband and I just took her outside to see if she needed to pee. we had the sling type support around her lower abdomen and had her on a short leash. We really had to coax her to walk and my question is, is that normal? The vet hospital is now closed and I didn’t really know what questions to ask until we got home and tried it ourselves. I don’t want to push her to walk if she doesn’t want to but then if we are supposed to push them a bit then I want to. Does that make sense? With much encouragement and coaxing and almost pulling a a tad on her collar she did walk in the backyard but she didn’t really seem to want to. She didn’t pee but she did right after we got home this am. I’m just not sure how much to push her. Going to see if there is any number to call on her post op instruction sheet but I hate to call the vet on call as its not urgent. Thought i would post here first. Thank you

  86. Thank you so much for this detailed outline of your pup’s progression. We are on day 2 of recovery from a bilateral TPLO surgery in my sweet 13 yr old beagle. The surgeon said this was the absolute best option to let her live her remaining years pain free and healthy. So glad/relieved to hear you had a positive outcome with it.

  87. Thank you for this. We’re facing this on Wednesday for one of our dogs. So glad to have a reference on what to expect.

  88. Thank you very much for this article.
    My guy is going to have TPLO on Monday and this helped me worry a little less.
    Mild winter here but terribly icy conditions causing lots of injuries to dogs.
    Thanks again!

  89. I so wish I could include a photo on this post! Our dog Dudley looks just like your Scooby, they sound a lot alike too. I read your blog a week or so ago, before Dudley had his TPLO surgery and found it very helpful. Dudley had his surgery 3 days ago now and I just went back and read it again. The details you included, and the trial and error you shared makes me feel so much better. Yours is the only personal narrative on the topic. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

    1. Oh good! Thanks so much for letting me know. I hope Dudley has a speedy TPLO recovery! It is so stressful but so worth it. Scooby went back to being a normal dog and I do not regret it.

  90. I’m going through this now and dang it hurts to see my pup Migo in this much pain.. I was worried that he might one day hurt himself. Just didn’t expect it to be a torn ligament.. He’s a black lab/blue heeler tripawd, he had his front left leg amputated about 2 years ago now due to the owners abusing him before I adopted him. The recovery time for that was insanely fast and he was back to normal in no time(chasing me chasing bunnies, throwing his toys down the stairs and retrieving them). He always has a thing for chasing bunnies, and even shocking to have seen him catch a few of them even though he’s missing a leg.. That ultimately was what caused the rupture.. I’m in the process of trying to gather up enough money to have the surgery done. He’s a very active dog with an insane amount of prey drive, so right now trying to keep him stationary isn’t going the greatest. I’m going to be converting my downstairs living room into our new room. He hates when I carry him down the stairs, he actually hates being picked up in general lol. But I’m nervous that I won’t be able to come up with the money fast enough, I’m worried that it’s going to be too much weight to bear on just two legs. He’s my best friend.. This hurts to see him like this. https://gofund.me/1e377eca poor guy..

  91. Just have a question. My 2 year old pup is Having this surgery tomorrow. I see a couple of people said no more dog groups. My dog is a very aggressive player. She loves other dogs but plays rough and tough. Also, leaps over the deck steps (4 steps at a time). She constantly leaps, hops, twists, you name it! Will she be able to go back to all these activities full force after complete recovery?

  92. Thank you so much for posting your detailed experience. It really helps to set my expectations and make plans. My Lucy goes in for TPLO tomorrow morning. I’m so worried. about her and this post is great. Your Scooby is the sweetest guy and I’m sorry you lost him so suddenly.

  93. Thank you for creating this journal. My 5 year old Lab had this in May 2021 and the information has been a great guide.