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TPLO Surgery in Dogs

TPLO Surgery in Dogs

Has your dog been recommended Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery? In this post, our Riverside County vets explain the procedure and what to expect as your dog recovers.

What is TPLO Surgery?

When a dog has a  torn his cranial cruciate ligament (the CCL, similar to the ACL in humans), you may want to consider TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) for your dog. This common orthopedic procedure is a very effective long-term solution for addressing this injury with positive results and quick recovery time.

A dog’s knee is constantly bent at about 110 degrees, it takes on load, or tension, leaving it vulnerable to injury. After this surgery, the dynamics of your dog’s knee will be altered so the torn ligament isn’t required.

For a dog, a torn CCL is very painful since the femur will rub against the back of the tibia, causing discomfort and inflammation. Your dog will have limited mobility and may not be able to put any weight on the injured leg.


During the surgery, the bone will be cut so the tibial plateau can be rotated where the tibia and femur work together. A piece of the tibia will be removed and repositioned, so the femur won’t be able to slide backward. This procedure will stabilize the knee.

The CCL ligament is no longer needed, and your dog will have use of the stable joint again. If you are considering TPLO surgery, here are some factors to weigh consider.

  • Age
  • Activity level (Extremely active? Calm? In between?)
  • Weight and size
  • Health (does he or she have any joint problems or diseases?)
  • Post-surgery care and recovery

TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs

The first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are a critical period. Full recovery for a dog may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. Factors that affect recovery time are your dog’s size, age, and breed.

While the bone graft, that has been secured in place by a plate and screws, is healing you should:

  • Allow the anesthesia time to wear off
  • Keep the surgical areas clean, covered and protected from infection
  • Restrict physical activity to allow bones time to heal, but follow any exercise routines recommended by your vet

Dogs tend to think they are healed and want to get back to physical activity. Remember that preventing infection and restricting physical activity during your dog’s recovery period are vital to their health at this time. 

While it’s on-leash walks for a few minutes at a time may be advisable, avoid high-intensity activities such as jumping, running and playing with other dogs. Avoiding stairs could be beneficial.

Avoid leaving your dog alone around other dogs or animals during the recovery period. A dog jumping (or being jumped on) after TPLO surgery may sustain serious injuries, and suffer setbacks in recovery.

If recovery has progressed sufficiently, the vet may be able to remove the stitches on the eighth week,.

Complications & What to Do

While unlikely, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian upon noticing any of these symptoms:

  • Inflammation or infection at incision site
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Refusing to put any weight on recovering leg
  • Sensitivity to pain medications
  • Widely varying eating and drinking habits
  • Constipation due to medication, healing or change in activity
  • Missing staples in stitches

Similar to people recovering from operation, your dog will need activity, too. As he recovers, he’ll appreciate a few new toys and attention from their loving family.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog having joint issues? Are you looking into TPLO surgery for your dog? Contact our Riverside County vets today.

New Patients Welcome

Banning Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients. Our experienced and compassionate vets care about the health of animals across Riverside County. Contact us today in order to book your first appointment.

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