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Knee Surgery Aftercare for Dogs

TPLO, MPL, other knee surgery

First, you need to prepare for what will happen. If your pet needs to be assisted to walk, you may need 2 people. If you have slippery floor, you may need rugs with stabilizing backing. You may need a crate that your pet cannot escape from or destroy. You also need to prepare for the change in activity from the routine. No jumping means no jumping on you, the couch, the bed or into the car. No stairs may mean carrying your pet to go outside or using a baby gate inside the house. Your pet may need to be separated from other dogs or children to limit excited interaction.

If you can't avoid activity then prepare for the next best option. Use a beach towel as a sling around the abdomen to support the back end while going up or down a few stairs or walking or slippery wood or tile floors. Always hold the leash as well. Consider sedation of hyperactive dogs.

The surgery repairs the problem, but limping continues due to pain. The pain is managed with medication. Rest and controlling activity help manage pain. Applying ice packs or gentle massage after a warm compress also help with pain.

Call or visit the veterinarian when pain gets worse or is not getting better over time. Other signs to watch for include increase in swelling, bruising, bleeding, warmth, fluid seeping, or abrupt changes in ability to use the leg.

The first night after surgery, your pet will need the most help managing pain. Each night after that is better. You can keep your pet in the hospital overnight for pain management after surgery.

During the first 7 days, your dog needs to confined to a crate or at the end of a 4' leash attached to your hand. If you are observing closely, your pet's short leash could be attached to something immobile. Activity is restricted to what is necessary for your pet to urinate and defecate 3 times a day. You can apply ice packs during the first 3 days then switch to warm compresses. You can do gentle massage or passive range of motion. 10 minutes 1-3 times a day. For example, you could do 5 minutes of massage and range of motion ie., 10 repetitions before walking outside and 10 minutes of ice packs when you return 3 times a day. Once he is using his leg, you can stop the range of motion exercise.

During the second 7 days, walks could be 10 minutes instead of 5 minutes 3 times a day. You could do warm compress for 10 minutes prior to walking outside.

During the third 7 days, walks may by 15 minutes 3 times a day. Ice packs can be discontinued. He can start sit-stand exercises. ie, 5 sit-stands 3 times a day before each walk for example

During the fourth 7 days, you can discontinue range of motion, warm compresses, and massage but continue sit-stand exercises and walks 3 times a day. Walks can be 20 minutes 3 times a day. You could try to walk in a large ie 20 yds size figure 8 up to 10 times 3 times a day.

If at any time, your pet becomes more painful especially all of a sudden, then rest is indicated and probably a recheck. All increases are incrimental, gradual and at the pet's pace.

After 1 month, radiographs are indicated to evaluate bone changes and determine what activity is best. The next exercise may be walking on hills instead of level ground. Another exercise is to start stepping up and down 2" height then taller until able to step on a curb or stair step. To walk over the board or curb, try walking in an S-shape or serpentine stepping up and down while continuing forward in an S pattern. You could also now use a 10-15' leash during weeks 4-6. He could jog on the longer leash but only 1/4 the duration of the slower walks. If he was walking 20 minutes, he can jog for 5 minutes.

After 8 weeks, when the pet acts more normal, exercises can continue increasing incrementally so that muscles get stronger. For example, jogging instead of walking. At 4 months, swimming would be a good exercise. These exercises are controlled by a leash and supervised to limit how strenuous it is.

Off leash activity should be started gradually with no other dogs and with voice control. No jumping, chasing anything or playing with other animals. Start after he has already been walking enough that he has less energy. He also needs a recheck before resuming normal activity.

Remember that even though the pet feels better and wants to have normal activity, you need to control the activity duration and how strenuous it is.


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