MRSA Following TPLO Surgery – Dax

MRSA and Dog Surgery

This is actually my son’s dog but he lives with me and I’m his caretaker.

Just over 2 years old, Dax tore both ACL’s. TPLO was done on the worst leg 6 months ago. After a long recovery, he was finally walking and doing a little running without limping. In fact, 3 weeks ago I was watching him and thinking he didn’t need surgery on the other leg. I woke up one morning to find him not putting any weight at all on the repaired leg. I thought maybe he twisted it so I gave him a week with no improvement. I noticed then that there was a discharge from the totally healed incision.

My son took him to the Vet and he was put on Amikacin injections daily for 10 days. Yesterday, the 7th day, the Vet called and said the cultures came back with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a very resistant type of staph) infection at the implant site and they needed to be removed ASAP. My son left on his honeymoon yesterday morning so I’m taking care of the dog again, post surgery.

I still don’t understand how MRSA can start 6 months post surgery, when the incision was completely healed with hair growing over it. The Vet is telling me he must have had a hemotogenous infection. My son’s wife is a Pharmacist and thinks the implants weren’t clean when they were put in and he has a strong immune system that has fought it off this long.

Has anyone else heard of MRSA 6 months post surgery?

20 thoughts on “MRSA Following TPLO Surgery – Dax

  1. I don’t know if this is directly applicable, but my dog Eddie had a major surgery at age 5 (he is now 9) – he had a median sternotomy (a foxtail had formed an abscess that lodged between his lungs, attached to his pericardium) which required stainless steel wires to be wrapped around his sternum to help the bone fuse. He came home 5 days after the surgery with a 14 inch incision — 2 weeks later it was still draining and wouldn’t heal. A culture revealed a MRSA staph infection. After months of antibiotic treatment, with the infection subsiding and returning, our surgeon determined that the MRSA was holding to the wires and determined that they needed to be removed.

    I mention all this because there was a secret weapon we used especially when the wires were removed which helped immeasurably to get rid of the staph and with the healing: Manuka Honey. Even after the wires were removed, there was a cavity in Eddie’s chest that refused to heal. I research the web for days and found that clinical trials which used Manuka Honey, and in some cases, combined with anitbiotics were effective against MRSA staph. Manuka Honey is made in New Zealand and shipped all over the world — I ordered from — but you may be able to get the medicinal level (15 ) in your grocery story (very important to get the medical grade, which is 15 or 16 . It also comes in an 18 or 20 grade — but would be very irritating, burning on raw skin).

    My surgeon was skeptical at first – she is traditionally trained –but decided to try it in combination with the antibiotics — she felt it couldn’t hurt. Each day a catheter filled with the Manuka Honey was injected into the wound cavity and after about a week, it closed. So this may be worth looking into for your dog.

    I want to emphasize that antibiotics were given the entire time during the honey treatment. But the doctor was impressed with the way the honey seemed to work with the drug to reduce the amount of fluid in his chest and heal the wound. (Knock on wood), Eddie has not had another bout with MRSA since that time.

    From my reading, there seems to be another type of honey, Ulmo honey from Chile, which works even more effectively than the Manuka — have attached the article below.
    Hope this helps.

    1. my 8 year old jack russell had TPLO surgery. 8 weeks xray all was healing well exercise increased. 11 weeks post op he wouldnt weight bear. Few days later still not putting his foot down. Seen by surgeon some swelling had started . Had a low fever. sent home with heavy antibiotics. Four days later ended up at emerg. Temp up very lethargic breathing laboured. Admitted to emerg. Few days go by on IV antibiotics leg swelling increased and now going up to his thigh. Breathing laboured congested. chest xray showing pneumonia. I moved him to Guelph University. He was placed in ICU. Plate and screws removed couple days later. swelling went away immediately. Intrrnal medicine said the plate must of had bacteria on it growing slowly in his body. he now was septic started to get blood clots. he spent 2 weeks in emerg . until he no longer could fight. I am heart broken how this could happen. my poor dog is gone

  2. I have a 9 year old female german shepherd. She had a TPLO done in 2008 and she recovered incredibly well, no complications. Fast forward to now…On 12-02-2012 she had to have a TPLO on the other leg. We were not worried because we had been through this before with no problems, however this time did turn out to be very different. 1 week after surgery the incision began to drain. She was put on antibiotics. Her leg was very swollen and she could not walk on it. Once the course of antibiotics were done the incision began draining more. The idiot doctors kept telling us it was just superficial and not to worry. They actually told me to put sugar in the wound for it to heal. I might add that this was at a Veterinary School. I was shocked at how they were treating us. The worst place I have ever been! They finally did cultures and she was for MRSA. She then was put on Chloramphenicol. After being on this drug for 4 days, she stopped eating, stopped walking, was urinating on herself and was very lethargic. They stopped the med. The plate and screws needed to come out but the doctor said it was too early, that the bone had not healed. I stopped seeing this vet and sought help somewhere else. By this time we are in mid February. The surgeon did x-rays and determined that he could remove the hardware. The surgery was done on 02-25-2013. She then stayed there for 3 days to receive IV Amikacin. She came home and was prescribed Rifampin and Chloramphenicol to be given for 2 weeks .After being on these meds for 4 days she stopped eating, the vet said to continue meds and he added one med to increase her appetite. That did not work. So now, today let me tell you what has happened. My girl is in acute liver failure. The doctor says it’s not from meds but due to her age and MRSA. I personally feel it was from all the meds she was on because they are all bad for the liver and she was taking very high doses for a long time. She is now at the hospital on more meds to support her liver, IV fluids, and they are tube feeding her because she has gone from 86 lbs in December to now ,she is 73 lbs. My sweet girl may not make it because of a facility that does not practice the most important sterile techniques. MRSA is a hospital born infection, it is caused from dirty equipment or from someone transferring it. She got this at Auburn University Vet School. This has truly been a nightmare. If you re reading this and your dog needs surgery , please ask the surgeon what their infection rate is. I guarantee you that Auburn University Vet School has had a lot of MRSA infections. My girl is in good hands tonight and I’m praying she pulls through and shows some improvement in the morning.

    1. Chloramphenicol is a drug that needs to be monitored by drug test because it is so toxic to the liver My thoughts are with you

  3. MRSA is much more complex than any of you are understanding.
    Do any of you work in hospitals, doctors offices, dental clinics (or have you visited any durring the last few years?). Do you have family members in these fields, have you been tested for MRSA?The reason I ask these questions is simple…your dog is much more likely to get MRSA from you than at the time of surgery. Any clinic at a level to preform a TPLO or TTA surgery is going to use aseptic technique and sterilize their equipment and implants.
    Fact: implants play host to many different bacterial infections (implants meaning any metal, plastic, foreign object placed into a body). These infections do not Always come from the implant or the surgery. Here’s a little common sense: your dog develops an infection months after surgery, if the implant were infected you would see infection much sooner. More likely, your dog came in contact with MRSA and because he/she has an implant already that is exactly where the bacteria thrives (because it’s not part of the body, therefore the body cannot get rid of all of the infection). The implant needs to be removed.
    For the unfortunate dog who got chloramphenicol, your dog obviously had a reaction to the drug the first time it took it. I’m confused as to why you gave a second course when there are many other drugs available. Amikasin!
    I will not say that there are never complications or infections post op, I will say that many are caused by no compliant owners (no e-collar, my dog won’t lick), lack of appropriate post op care including suture removal, physical therapy, post op rechecks. Your surgeon should (and probably did) go over possible post op complications in your preop exam. Including the fact that any surgery with implants placed is at more risk for infection, period.
    I am sorry for every patient and owner who goes through this. However, I am tired of seeing ignorance spread.
    Oh, and by the way, sugaring an infected, open wound is a very well tested way to manage said wound as is manuka honey.
    Educate yourselves, get the facts, be your pets advocate. The blame game solves nothing and will not fix your pet.
    I’m incredibly proud to be a vet technician at a surgical specialty hospital (for 20 years). I will tell you this. My patients get better care than my children have ever received in a human hospital (and for a fraction of the cost).
    Oh, and I’m neg for MRSA, I have been and will continue to be tested.

    1. Thank you for your statement. My dog had TPLO surgery yesterday and the doctor is amazing. Good to know the information you stated. Will keep a close eye on him when he returns home. I really do have a wonderful doctor. I am stationed in Japan and had a off post doctor do the surgery. Really amazed by how he has taken care of my dog and me as a owner.
      Reading all of your emails makes me nervous. I don’t want to bring him home and I get him sick. Will educate myself more on this MRSA. Our dog is like our own child.

      Thanks all for posting. I have a lot to think about.

    2. It’s not necessarily true that if the infection were from the implant you would see it sooner. I had a breast implant as a result of breast cancer reconstruction and the MRSA didn’t show up until 2 months later. The MRSA was confirmed as being located with the implant.

  4. Mary, I am a registered nurse and my husband is a CRNA. We both are tested regularly for MRSA and we are negative! We are very educated people who take extremely good care of our animals and always go above and beyond what most owners would do. We have already spent >10,000 on Zoe. My husband took leave for 3 weeks just so he could drive 3.5 hrs to take Zoe to physical therapy and drive 3.5 hrs back home so she would not have to be boarded. He did this a total of 8 times over 2 weeks. I myself drove her for check ups as well as my husband. Do not for one second think I am not properly caring for my dog postoperatively. I work in a surgical ICU. This dog means more than anything to us.
    I am aware that staph and a lot of other harmful bacteria is present everywhere. But I am also aware that MRSA is a hospital aquired infection. Something they are doing at Auburn is not correct. I bet if you could look at their infection rates compared to some other surgical center that Auburn would have higher incidences of MRSA.
    Zoe had the exact same surgery 4 years ago in Louisiana and recovered very well without any complications. I even took off from work for 12 weeks to be with her 24/7 to be with her.
    Mary, you sounded very ugly in your comment. I was only writing about my experience. I believe that surgeon knew my dog was showing very early signs of degenerative myelopathy but did not tell us. I feel he was not thinking for the best interest of my dog but for his students. My dog received IV Amikacin. She completed one round of chloramphenicol but they felt she had not had enough , that is why she took a second round. Now they want to give her Gentamycin but we can’t because her renal pane is elevated. We have been giving her subQ fluid boluses at home for a week and then we recheck them. I just think it is absolutely amazing how 3 months ago, my dog was running very fast and now she has been on deaths door twice and is now cripple, unable to walk and now has to use a wheelchair. Yes some owners are crap and don’t take care of their animals. But just like Doctors are NOT Gods…. Neither are Veterinarians, their clinics, and certainly not their staff. I’m not playing a blame game:)

  5. My 9 YO Pit had acl surgery last Thursday. Picked him up Sat morning with cast on leg. Sunday he seemed to feel worse. Started swelling in left butt and scrotum area. Took him back Monday. They took cast off and kept him. Swelling extended to leg and leg is 3 x normal. They did wbc and temp and both normal. Picked him up yesterday afternoon and took him to u of georgia vet school. They think a super bug. Waiting on cultures. Worse this morning. I’m afraid he won’t make it through the night. He was totally healthy. Before this. Any help from anyone ? Thanks. Wesley

  6. I am so sorry to hear about your dog Wesley. I’m praying for him. My girl Zoe has pulled through. The antibiotics that she had to take almost killed her! She had to take heavy duty antibiotics that sent her into liver failure, she lost 25 pounds, and lost ability to use her back legs. At the time , we had no idea what was causing the immobility. They did surgery again to remove the plate and screws. She still was so weak and sick. We actually had scheduled a vet to come to our home at the end of March last year to euthanize her. The night before he was to come, she crawled down the hallway. Looking into her eyes, we knew she had more life in her.We called the vet and said we would have to wait. The next day we ordered a dog wheelchair for her from We put her in that thing and she took off. We could not believe it! After 3-4 months she was walking on her own without the wheelchair. I believe the wheelchair helped like as in physical therapy. She had lost so much weight and was so weak because she had been so sick. In our heart of hearts we knew she was not ready to go. Her back feet just barely touched the ground and so she was able to get her back leg muscles stronger. So here we are 1.5 years later and she is running and is very strong and healthy. She was telling us all along how very sick she was but she was also telling us that she was not going to give up as long as we did not. She will be 11 this November and I am so grateful for everyday that we have with her. I know how difficult it is when your pet is sick. It does help to know that there are a lot of people out there who feel the same thing about their pets and endure the loss of one. Wesley, whatever antibiotics your dog is put on, ask your vet to monitor his liver and kidney functions. That will help to know that the antibiotics are not actually killing him. I’m just speaking from my own personal experience because that is what happened to my dog. My prayers are with you and your dog. I know this is a very scary time, it was certainly so for us.

    1. Deborah, thanks for the inspirational story. Friday night they told me Bentley was in grave condition but give him the night. Saturday morning they called and said he was holding his head up and wagging his tail when the Dr made her rounds. He has steadily improved since and will go to surgery tues morning to amputate the bad leg. I have been so amazed at how he turned things around that night. It was later in the day before they isolated the bacteria and started the ” big gun” antibiotic. He has handled it well also. They say one of the bacteria was the MERSA or whatever the very resistant one is called. I feel so fortunate so far and I pray he does well in the morning.

      Your story is so heart warming. Thank God for people like you . Some had told me I was selfish to let Bentley keep fighting but I believe he and I will prove them wrong.
      Thanks again,


  7. Don’t be pressured by other people. I know the poor girls in the vets office looked at me like I was crazy when I brought Zoe in and she was flopping around on the floor because she could not walk. I’m sure they were thinking,”that poor woman needs to let go.” People said to me, “you will know when it is time to let her go.” Call me crazy ,but I do believe the love we have for her and how much we fought with her, got her and us through this. MRSA is a nasty infection, just have your vet monitor him and make sure he is eating good. I am so happy to hear that he is doing better. Keep me posted.

  8. My dog had PTLO surgery last year and did fine. She tore the other all this summer and had the surgery for the second knee. The incision healed fine and into week 5 her knee started swelling. We took her in and she had an infection and was put on antibiotics. The culture came back with MRSA. we were shocked, I have no idea how she got it, just like your pet, our dog was doing fine, then MRSA. She is on the powerful antibiotics, praying she recovers.

  9. Sorry I never updated Bentleys story. He stayed in icu at U of Georgia for 35 days. He started improving and became healthy enough to amputate his bad leg. Within a week of his amputation he was home playing with our other dogs. He amazed me.he amazed his doctors at UGA. We went back to see everyone there 3 months later and everybody came to see him at their lunch. Never give up hope.

    Bentley gets around great now considering all he went through and is very healthy. I do worry about the added pressure on his other leg and another rupture.

    Bentley was a free rescue dog 4 years ago but now he is worth at least 17k. I’m lucky that I could spend that much.

    I hope all turns out well for any of you who go through this. Do whatever you can to save your dog. Bentley almost died 5 or 6 times they tell me. It was a miracle it seems.

    Don’t give up.


    1. Wow, what a story, so glad your dog is ok, even after the amputation. My dog was a free rescue dog as well, a llewellin setter which is not known for ACL injuries. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  10. Hi I have a standard schnauzer. She was 13 months when she had tplo surgery. The leg healed well and she was happy walking without pain. She went lame for a few days around week 6. Literally woke up lame. A knee tap was performed and no infection found. X-rays were also clear. There was discharge of synovial fluid at the site for a few days. Antibiotics given and I cleaned and dressed the wound daily. All cleared up and she continued to heal and eventually slowed to run around . At around 4-5 months post op she started to have a small cyst appear just below knee. This would fill with fluid and the break open and heal. My vet suggested the wire used needed to be removed. The sore healed again and so the op which wasn’t considered urgent as not causing any distress or swelling /tenderness at site. Any way, I took her back as I felt a slight swelling further up the leg. I was referrred now to specialist for review and yesterday had the whole implant removed.
    Despite them thinking that it was the wire irritating her, there was actually a low grade infection. The bone is solid but screws have been sent off anyway for analysis to ensure correct antibiotics have been prescribed. Now at home with nauseas sad puppy.

    i so hope she starts feeling well soon.

  11. We have 6.5yr old Cane Corso. Porter. Our dog child. He had a partially torn ACL back in 2015. Had the TPLO surgery, everything healed perfectly. Then we had to do the other leg 3/13/17. Before they performed the surgery the x-rays showed a funny spot on his bone. The biopsy came back benine(thankgod) and proceeded with the surgery. In that 2 week grace period between the biopsy and the TPLO surgery and staph infection occured. We we on rifampin for 2 weeks, 8days later he wouldn’t walk on that leg. Bacl to the hospital, the bone is healing very well from x-rays. But his white blood cell count was up and a temp of 102. We are on rifampin for 30 days and gabapentin for the pain. I am praying that a biofilm doesn’t form and resist the antibiotics. At first the doctor didnt tell me what kind of bacteria it was.

    We are advocates for our pets. Never feel like you’re a bother when you require more information. Worse case Porter will go in for another surgery to get the hardware removed. I am praying the medication works and he will be ok.

  12. I have an almost 5 yo Boxer who has torn both CCLs. He had TPLO surgery in late 2019 when he completely tore his left CCL. Surgery, post-op and rehab went great. Within 6 months he was his old silly self. He recently underwent TPLO surgery on the right side and this time is a whole new ball of wax. When I brought him home following post op, I noticed the upper inch of his wound was puffed up as if he had two blisters. I thought this isn’t normal, but a couple of days later all the swelling had gone down and we were on the road to recovery. A week after surgery, that upper section of the wound was red and leaking clear blood-tinged fluid and it would not stop. I emailed the surgeon and was told to bring him into the ER. The ER took a culture of the fluid and said that the sutures had broken in that area, so they stapled it. I was given a course of the usual antibiotics and sent home with my pup. Two days later, nothing had changed. Went back to the Vet ER and they took another culture. I was told at that time that the first culture showed “round cells.” He was put on a different antibiotic and sent home. Two days ago, now a month post op, the second culture came back, and he has to go through the 10-day course of Amikacin. All I was told is that the bacteria in his body is systemic and resistant to all other antibiotics. Could this be MRSA? Seems that nobody knows what it is, or just doesn’t want to tell me.

    1. It definitely sounds like MRSA. MRSA is a hospital/surgical acquired infection. People in hospitals get it. I believe my dog got it from lack of maintaining sterility during surgery. I believe it came from the actual clinic. They will need to do cultures and sensitivity tests to find out the exact germ and which specific antibiotic will kill it. Where my dog got into trouble was that all the high powered antibiotics hurt her liver and kidneys it almost killed her. I know labs can be expensive but whatever meds he has to take I would definitely do frequent labs to check liver and kidney function. Also ask the vet for supplements that support your dogs liver while he’s taking meds. One in particular is probiotics. My dog almost died but thank the good Lord she pulled through. It was a very long emotional process. I’m praying for you and your dog.

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