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Double TPLO Recovery – Limping/Lameness – Loki

Double TPLO SurgeryOur now 12 year old Brittany, Loki, has had both knees fixed with TPLO surgery. His first surgery was 18 months ago and the second about 1 year ago. Recovery went well in both cases, though he managed to break his fibula both times. In both cases, though, the fibula healed without any troubles.

After the second surgery, he began dragging his toenails occasionally on both sides. We didn’t worry about it as the recovery was going well and we weren’t aware that it could be a symptom of other problems.

Things were going well until about 6 months after the second surgery. He seemed to be back to about 80%, running and playing near to his normal hyperactive self.

At about 6 months, he developed a limp and more proprioceptive deficiencies. He drags his toenails occasionally on both sides and knuckles as well. The side of his second surgery is a little worse than the other side.

Our surgeon wasn’t able to examine Loki, since we have moved to Panama, but we sent him some x-rays and he felt they looked good with no arthritis or complications.

These symptoms have increased and decreased over time, but never gone away. The surgeon said that TPLO can’t cause proprioceptive problems, but I wanted to find out if anyone else has had similar experiences. Perhaps pain and weakness associated with the surgery can cause these symptoms?

Thanks for any input!

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22 Responses to Double TPLO Recovery – Limping/Lameness – Loki

  1. Andrea November 1, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    I have a dog that just went through a double TPLO and he does this as well, but only on one side. Usually if they are dragging the toes, it is one of two things, muscle weakness or nerve damage. To check for nerve damage, when the dog is standing, pick up their back foot just enough to turn it so the pads are up and the tops of the toes press against the ground. As soon as you let go, the dog should immediately pick the foot up and put the pads back down. If there is a delay, or if the dog stays knuckled over on that back foot, it usually means a nerve issue. (You can probably You Tube a video on how to do this.)
    I would think that because of the large amount of cutting in the TPLOs, it’s possible that nerves could be nicked. Nerves take an average of 6 mos-1 year to heal if they are damaged, so if you are past that time, you may have something permanent or maybe even a different problem unrelated to surgery.
    The other thing I would be worried about if he’s dragging on both sides is a disc in the back. That can cause coordination problems, and makes more sense if the dragging is on both back feet instead of just one. I would also get him tested for all the tick-borne diseases. Lyme’s and anaplasmosis can cause similar symptoms, and have a cheap and easy cure (run of doxycycline antibiotics).
    Have you tried Rimadyl or any other anti-inflammatories? Do they help?
    My boy is only a few weeks off restrictions, so I am not worried about nerve damage just yet…he’s still weak enough that he falls over sometimes because he just doesn’t have the muscle back to hold himself up, so I will watch and not panic yet, but I feel for you guys.
    If you KNOW something is wrong, don’t give up….you live with your dog, you are the only one who is liable to pick up on the really subtle symptoms that he is not at 100%. The vet has stopped questioning me when I tell them there is a problem…I tend to see Domino’s issues about two and half weeks before they become bad enough for the vet to diagnose. They are good at hiding their pain!

  2. Nancy November 2, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Nicely stated, Andrea. I said almost the same thing on FB, but in not as much detail.

  3. Tammi August 22, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Hurley is a 12 1/2 yo, 90lb boxer/lab mix. We are 10 days postop from his TPLO surgery done by a Neurosurgeon with excellent credentials. Brief history..having full back end failure, knuckling both hind legs, loss of muscle mass in hind qtrs-from January 2014. dx’d with hind end ataxia & proprioceptive deficits – X-rays showed evidence of spondylosis at L7 – S1, (at base of spine) with possible compression on the spinal cord & nerves. To try and avoid surgery on the spine, the Dr. wanted him to try the water treadmill & laser therapy. Hurley has been doing physical therapy since april2014 with excellent progress…he has gone from 1 min up to 20 mins on the treadmill – he still has his good and bad days. All in all the dr is very pleased with his improvement in a 3 month time..
    3 weeks ago think it was the bear that was passing thru the area at the time and Hurley tried to run thru the yard….he came in limping, ACL tear – just had surgery…back end is very weak again-the good leg very weak, starting with the knuckling off & on, the surgical leg fully knuckled until a few days ago…has been getting better. Sutures to be removed this week and will be starting minimal physical therapy (water treadmill & laser therapy) 8/31/2014. Postop visit & X-ray’s mid September & status/eval for PT. He does also have liver compromise so anti inflammatories such as rimadyl are minimal dosing and will only be on it for short period – it does help tremendously tramadol is at a maximum dosage 🙁
    Thank you for allowing me to share!! Tammi & Hurley

  4. Rose & rosie June 6, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    My Rottie mix rosie will be having tplo surgery on June 29. Any advice and/or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanx! Rose & rosie

  5. connie June 12, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    My lab just had surgery and boy its very ruff!!! lol We had to biuld ramps everywhere for her to go out and make her buisness she was in alot of pain and the collor they put on kept her up all nite for days. I did not gwet much sleeep its very hard to hold them down. Keepin mind that once they feekbetter they will try to run etc always keep himor her on a leash. We are going back on froday for an xray! Shw came home woth a pain patch also her stay was two days at hospital, Where are you having it done??

    • connie June 12, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      it cost us 3900 and her other leg will b needed it soon

      • Rose & rosie June 17, 2015 at 2:58 am #

        It’s costing us $3000-&3100 and praying Rosie won’t need her other knee done!

    • Rose & rosie June 17, 2015 at 2:55 am #

      Hi Connie, we’re taking her to Dr. Crouse in Arden (by Asheville, western NC) He came highly recommended and my husband and I really liked him whn we went for the consult. And yes from all I’ve read it’s a tough recovery. Where did you go to get your labs done??

  6. ChapelHillDogMom July 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    My dog just had double TPLO surgery and even though I knew it was going to be tough, I didn’t realize HOW tough. However! Despite a few nights of no sleep, and constant worry about how she is doing, listening to her first nights of whimpers of a little pain, her lack of wanting to eat or even go outside or do her business (yes, she lasted 4 DAYS with NOTHING and held it in! even after eating more…), we are finally at 2 weeks to the point where she is walking around and is sleeping through the night and she is eating and wanting to pretend this never happened…she tolerates her cone really well…she is a headstrong Pitbull mix and I thought there was no way she’d tolerate the cone, but she’s cool with it (as long as it’s see-through it is good)….she wants to go outside and just walk around and lie in the sun….I think one thing I did not prepare for was the hardwood floor issue in our house…even if we have area rugs..when she gets to the hardwood part she slips and can’t get up…..make sure you have rugs! at least! so I went and bought some cheap outside rugs and taped them down and she is moving through the house better… I WOULD RECOMMEND this surgery despite the complete TOUGH road which really was the first two weeks….we are getting sutures out tomorrow. I have resolved myself to a couple (or more?) of months with limitations for her, and that is a tough adjustment not only for her but for me! but her walking, her gait, is better than when she went into surgery…

    • SW July 24, 2015 at 2:26 am #

      We just had bilateral surgery done on our Pit Bull. She is sort of non-plussed by the whole thing. The hardest part is keeping her from doing what she normally does. She likes to lay in the sun and we put a big foam mattress cover on the floor and are sleeping with her. She also has a crate, so if we have visitors or when we eat, she goes in the crate so she isn’t circling around us. I bought a few new chew toys, have been doing the kong with peanut butter. She has licked the wound a bit but isn’t wearing a cone as she stops when we tell her to. Ours wanted alternative foods the first few days so I made a scrambled egg, a pancake for her and bought some canned dog food that she likes, also rice and cottage cheese. I’m sorry your dog seemed to be in some pain. Ours didn’t seem to be, but we did give the pain meds about every 8 hours. Last night a neighbor’s teenager got home late and she got up and ran over to the gate and was barking, so I put her in her crate. That is the hardest part…anticipating when she’ll try to do something she’s not supposed to. She also jumped up on the couch when I wasn’t looking. Yikes!

  7. JIM July 30, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    We are week 2 of a double tta surgery, things are going very well, first few night’s were rough but been pretty easy since then. Eating and going the bathroom have been spot on, probably toughest part is keeping him confined to a pen.Im glad i did both together instead of a long rehab to only do it again. I can really see the difference in his facial expressions he was in quite a bit of pain now that i can see the difference in the way he is acting, i knew he was hurting but wasn’t sure how much, he is a pitbull so hard to gauge pain sometimes.

  8. Brooks August 20, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Our girl Maya (7 yr. old boxer/terrier mix) is 4 weeks out from double TPLO. She fully tore both ACL, meniscus and dislocated her right kneecap which required more extensive surgery on the right leg.
    She’s taken to crate living surprisingly well (she was a terror in a crate as a puppy and hasn’t been in one since she was 1 1/2) and will go in willingly. Surprisingly, she never needed the cone as she left the surgical sites alone. Her poor fur still hasn’t grown back though, so she’s still pretty short haired on the back end.
    The first few weeks, she really needed the sling to help get her up and with walking, as she really didn’t trust herself. This was, especially helpful when she went to the bathroom as you could help support her. She’s walking around very well now. We are up to a full trip around the block with no struggle and will continue to slowly tack on more time/distance but still trying to stay on as flat of ground as we can.
    The toughest part for her is going from sitting to standing and vice versa. She does this using only her upper body, so she lifts the back legs up before sitting as well as when she goes to stand (like some sort of gymnast move, LOL). This causes her to be somewhat unbalanced.
    We are committed to keeping her crated for the full 8-10 weeks except for bathroom breaks and walks and on a leash anytime she’s out of the crate. She’s always been very high energy, crazy running around, patrolling the house, etc. so the hardest part is the sad puppy dog eyes wanting to be out doing what she loves. But, we know that even when she “thinks” she’s better, we have to stay strong and keep her confined so that she can fully heal. I would hate to have to go through this again.
    Good luck to those of you that will be going through this and hopes for a strong recovery for your fur babies!

  9. Sherri and roxy June 4, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    My lab mix had TPLO surgery almost 1 year ago. Interesting on the large range of pricing! It was definitely tough at first, especially hearing her whimper and look around so lost the first couple of days. She refused to wear the cone so she slept with us and we woke up to her every movement making sure she wasn’t licking her seutured area. Once she was able to walk on her own we gated off part of our patio so that she could enjoy the outdoors instead of being cooped up. At first we sat out there with her just petting her, making sure she didn’t jump up for any reason! Then we bought a bike trailer so she could come with us on walks! She was a VERY active dog so I didn’t think she would like it but I think she realized it was that or stay home and she quickly took to riding with a big ol smile! Didn’t take us long to open it up completely so she didn’t feel cooped up in it! She went through PT for a while and seemed to be recovering quite well! The only struggles I noticed was her going from lying down to standing up so I finally took her back in to see if this is normal. 3 weeks on anti inflammatories and last night she did something causing her to start limping and favoring that leg :(. I am waiting to see how it is after a couple days rest but will follow up with dr regardless. Any ideas what this can be? I was told they cannot tear it again.

    • Christie January 24, 2017 at 2:23 pm #

      Sherri this sounds very similar to what we are experiencing with our border collie/lab mix 6 months post TPLO. Did you find answers to the cause of Roxi’s limping and favoring? Our Bailey does limp after a good play or run but recently she isn’t putting as much weight on the post-surgical leg. She’s not completely lame but she does favor it and it’s noticeable she’s not putting as much weight as she was after healing. I have seen her slip or the leg seem to give out but she does fine with 2-4 mile walks. Strange.

      • Sherri January 25, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

        Christie,
        When I took her back to see the surgeon he didn’t seem to be too concerned – they did another X-ray but not all views as I didn’t want to put her under again, I just wanted to make sure none of the screws had come loose. The X-rays had shown an increase in arthritis but I still don’t think that is it. I took her to her regular dr and while grabbing at the knee she whimpered a bit and the dr seemed to think something may be wrong with her miniscus (which is what I thought all along). Unfortunately I had heard there isn’t a whole lot they can do for that so I contemplated taking her in to see the surgeon again … I didn’t want her to go through another surgery only to get more arthritis. She is fine if we just go on leash walks but we enjoy more off leash activities. She will favor it after running around but usually fine the next day… she always gets up slow from a lying down position unless she sees a squirrel in the backyard 😁 I have continued to give her her vitamins and tramadol after off leash activities but I am going to take her in to the dr again. I will keep you posted on what they say… hopefully your pup is ok!
        Sherri

        • Denise April 22, 2017 at 6:18 am #

          hi, I’m a little late to this conversation, but I have a large Newfy who had TPLO surgery. We are now 18 weeks after surgery. He was doing great, no lameness, no favoring, no limping, but just yesterday I noticed late in the evening he was limping and slow to get up. I let him be for the night, but gave him a rymadal before going to bed. When I go up the next morning he was even worse. Very slow to get up and really lame on the surgical leg to the point where he is putting no weight on it. I called the vet and we have an appointment for Monday. Was told to keep him quiet and give him the rymadal, but its like he’s getting worse and is worse that prior to the surgery or even after the surgery. Any advice would be nice.

          • Connie April 23, 2017 at 4:34 am #

            There may be some artritis setting in. My dog is on Rimadyl for the rest of her life along with cosiquin. If I do not give her both she can no get up well at all. With the meds she is perfect. She is now Turning 11. I have a yellow lab. I also feed her metobolic mobility food. And it works wonders. Hope she lives to 18. My Lexi had both knees done. Good luck

          • Cari April 24, 2017 at 6:42 am #

            Hi Denise! My dog had the same trouble after TPLO surgery. He had an infection which I assume is what’s going on with yours. After several different types of antibiotics he got better and was using it no problem. He kept licking the site several months after surgery and had to have the plate removed. It was discovered he still had an infection behind the plate and is now on more antibiotics he is currently 7 months post op and just yesterday was running and tore his other leg. I am so fearful of this surgery now because of the complications the first time. I am trying conservative management first. He is not using his leg at all. Good luck with yours. I hope the vet appointment goes well and he is cleared up in no time.

  10. Sarah April 22, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    Are you hoisting him up and not letting him walk on the leg when he goes outside or walks in the house? I would use a towel or sheet and have him not walk on it at all. I also put a thin mattress on the floor and slept with my dog so he wouldn’t go up any steps or go onto the couch. Have you had your dog on physical therapy? I guess just keep him really quiet until you can get an x ray and see what’s going on. Good luck!

  11. Fran April 28, 2017 at 6:20 am #

    Interesting to read, my dog, a Scottie, had TLPO surgery 4 years ago, he’s on Rantidine, Onisor and Tramdol. 😔 He went to the groomers and he’s now limping and a marked degree of lameness in the leg he was operated on! Seems groomer may have forgotten his hip dysplasia and harnessed him.. he’s only 6 years old, but so worried. Really thinking maybe I should have him put to sleep 😥 Vet thinks he may have strained it, but he keeps wanting me to rub it..and pants even with the extremely shorts walks he’s having. I’d be grateful for opinions.

    • Denise Rogers Batko April 28, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

      I would give him some rest, rub it if he wants you to and maybe do some physical therapy. Swimming is excellent for them. Bubba is doing better. We give him the rymadal twice a day, shortened his walks and he is doing so much better. He’s panting too on the shorter walks but it’s hot out and he’s a big dog but at least we are still getting exercise. I would not resort to putting the dog down. There are alternatives and arthritis can flame up from time to time. Just give it some time and keep in mind when sending your dog out to the groomers to remind them they need breaks in between. I have yet to send Bubba to a groomer because no one will take care of your dog like you do. Keep us posted.

  12. Laurin April 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

    My dog had double TPLO surgery and yes on occasion she strains it and limps. But then she gets back to normal! Don’t put the little sweetie asleep for a strain that will go away!!!

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