Best Toys and Treats for a Post Operative Dog

Cruciate Injury Recovery in Dogs

The first few months following a CCL repair surgery can be trying for both you and your dog. It is important during this time to provide your dog with adequate stimulation to prevent them from falling into some of the naughty behaviors exhibited by bored dogs. So instead of feeling guilty that you have to keep your best buddy crated or in a pen, find games, activities, and toys you can enjoy while your dog is on the road to recovery. You will want to choose items that do not require much movement, but will provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment. Here are a few of my favorite toys and treats for a dog recovering from surgery:




  • Kongs – Even the heartiest of chewers will be hard pressed to destroy this synthetic, conical-shaped toy. The shape of the Kong is perfect for prolonged chewing, and the ability to hide a treat inside is an added bonus for the persistent dog. I generally put peanut butter inside of the Kong, as I have found it is much harder (and fun) for my dogs to try to reach, but you can use practically anything that slides into the opening on the bottom of the toy – Milkbones work well too. Or if you want to go for the ultimate in Kong treats, place a few pieces of cheese inside the Kong and cover the openings with peanut butter, this should keep your canine occupied for hours!
  • Marrow Bones – Marrow bones are a raw food, so be sure your dog has a healthy immune system before introducing this treat. Most dogs handle raw marrow bones just fine. Note that I am referring to knuckle or femur bones, where the dog will eat the attached cartilage, meat and marrow but not the actual bone. Look for good-sized bones (too big to fit entirely inside your dog’s mouth), and the more cartilage and meat attached the better. Cut off any large chunks of fat. If your dog hasn’t had marrow bones before, give him one under supervision, and watch for any stomach upset that might follow — the marrow is very rich and your dog may need time to adjust to it. You can find marrow bones at your local grocery (often labeled as “soup bones”) or at a butcher shop. Many butchers will cut the bones to any size you like — sometimes the ones they put out are too small for large breed dogs.
Bully Sticks for Dogs
  • Bully Sticks – As long as you are able to get past the fact that these meat sticks are made from bull penis, your dog will be occupied for hours trying to consume this jerky-like treat. Bully sticks are a bit on the expensive side, but you can buy them in bulk and save a little money at most animal wholesale stores. It usually takes my heavy chewers about an hour or so to get through an entire stick, and it is really money well spent for a dog that is being cooped up in the house to recover from an operation.
  • Knotty Ball – This is a rope toy that is comprised of a bunch of knots forming a ball. While this toy actually tended to get our dog a little too excited as he thought we were going to start playing a rousing game of tug-of-war or fetch, I thought I would mention it for those dogs that are not necessarily interested in chasing balls around or pulling on ropes. This ball, whether engaging in rough play or just letting your dog have its way with it, lasts a long time, and also helps to keep your dog’s teeth clean while gnawing. Use at your own discretion, this one might not be perfect for every dog.

10 thoughts on “Best Toys and Treats for a Post Operative Dog

  1. This has been by far the most informative website I have found for helping me learn all about my dog’s upcoming surgery. Thank you so very much!

  2. Hello, My Newfoundland had TPLO and patellar surgery one week ago. Wow, This is my first experience with ortho surg. on dogs. Wow, I thought my baby was not doing well, but, in one week she can put some weight enough to get up and (hobble) walk some. We rescued her and will do anything for her. She has one good knee now!!! Yeah. The only problem I have is she does not want to eat in last 2-3 days. She is taking, rimadyl, tramadol-pain, simplicef (antibiotic) so, I think her poor tummy is a mess. She will eat lamb,liver treats, peanut butter. She ate a slice of turkey this am with lamb treats. I love this site! Thanks for letting me vent. Penny

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this info. I have a very active young female pit bull that will be having this surgery in the next couple of weeks, and I have been really fretting over how to keep her busy during recovery. Great suggestions!

  4. Anybody have some good advice for an english mastiff going to have a tta? I am so nervous and worried.

  5. My American bulldog has just had a CCL surgery, 4 days have past, he is doing well but it is definately for the dedicated dog owner. I will do anything to make this a success. He is getting a little bored now and I have really got more info from this website than anyoher I have read about. However, my surgical vet wrote orders for crate confinement for 18 weeks,except for short leash bathroom breaks. I have not read this lenght of time anywhere as of yet, That is a long time to go.

  6. While I agree that these treat based activities will keep your dog occupied for a time, what about activities for dogs who are recovering, experiencing MUCH MUCH MUCH less activity AND trying very much NOT to increase food intake–so as to assure no weight gain?

  7. Thanks so much for this! My GS injured her knee and has to rest for 10 days. At less than 2 years old, she is not too happy about it. I will lower her other food intake to offset the extra calories and make sure the treats in that Kong are healthy!

  8. hi, i have a blumastiff that is coming home from having this surgery today,and have looked everywhere for advice, has anybody used hydrotherapy as a recovery aid? just trying to find out if it would be benificial for her, to try and drain some energy and rebuild muscle tone, also adding to the comments posted about keeping them busy, my dog loves carrots so i’m going to try and see if they will help break the boredom and hopefully keep her weight down as well.thanks for all the useful advice.

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