TPLO Surgery and Recovery to 12 Weeks – Luna

Prefer to watch a video of Luna’s recovery? Click here to see Luna’s TPLO Recovery Video

(Video is at the end of the post)

Pre Surgery: March 1-10, 2012

Luna is a Female 8.5 year old pure bred Yellow Lab. She woke up one morning and wasn’t able to put her back right leg down. I knew something was wrong. She’s not the type to cry or whimper so I’m not sure when or how it happened. She’s always chasing animals in the back yard and we do walk 2 miles a day and swim once a week. So she’s very active. I had to carry her outside to avoid steps and back in. After seeing her collapse (she didn’t know how to use just 3 legs) I went to the emergency room. A manual test showed she tore her Cruciate Ligament.

Surgeon wasn’t in until 5 days after. They assured me this wasn’t life threatening and not considered an emergency surgery so I was able to wait the 5 days. Meanwhile Luna is limping around. (Just for backyard leashed potty walks), she’s not greeting me at the door, instead just lays there.

Does My Dog Need TPLO

She was given Rimadyl for inflammation. 5 Days go by, Luna getting used to things but met with Surgeon. He has done over 3000 TPLO’s in his career.. He did NOT recommend the Traditional way based on her weight and activity (65lbs). He was ready to do it right then but I was too devastated to drop her off just like that. Luna was looking at me and wanted to get out of there. She was tow touching the whole time.

Day before the surgery I swear it looked like she didn’t have a limp. The Rimadyl is a miracle pill but xrays did show 75% of her ligament was torn. That’s a lot! And she was getting older so I knew now was the best time to do it plus being Spring, I knew weather was going to be good and she would be ready for Summer.

Surgery Day:

The drop off was the hardest part. She didn’t know what was coming. I had a ton of questions to ask. When they took her she got lose from them, wagging her tail limping right back to me. I lost it.

I assured her it was ok and told them I would walk with them to the back, they let me walk down the hallway with her and then it was goodbye for now. The staff at VCA Animal hospital was as friendly, caring, and understanding as you can get so I knew she was in good hands but the thought of Luna wondering why I left her wasn’t sitting well. My job hours are flexible so we’re together 24/7.

They gave me care instruction papers to prepare.

9:30am – Dropped off. (they had to prep her for it with iv, anesthesia)
12:15 – Went in for Surgery
1:30 – Nurse called me and said surgery went well and she’s in recovery room

They would not allow me to see her. (that didn’t sit well but now understand why), they said I couldn’t take her home that night either. They said she was doing fine, they took her out to pee and was even toe touching the leg already!!

It was the longest night ever.

Day After Surgery:

TPLO Surgery Stories

Rounds (where doctors check on each patient to release them) wasn’t until 10:30. But they let me see her and pick her up at 9:30. The way she got excited to see me I understood why they didn’t allow it the day of. Those stitches would have popped right out. and possibly re-injure the leg. Doctor said she did well, all went well, and she recovered nicely. They spent time with me going over care instructions and medications. This surgeon is able to do TPLO with his eyes closed, its quiet amazing. Luna looked so drowsy still (common), but amazingly she pooped in backyard which was great. Usually after surgery constipation is the most common problem but it was nice to see everything was working normally.

Recovery Begins:

2nd day was the worst day/night. She could not put her head down to relax. Everything seemed enhanced as if she was hearing fireworks looking around worried, looking stoned.. She started whimpering and she NEVER does. I felt so bad but I found out it was the pain patch. It was sending too much morphine inside her. They told me to take it off. (Go gentle and use vegetable oil when taking it off). I do believe its the only way to help dogs relieve pain of the surgery but hard to say after seeing that. Sometimes pills aren’t enough when you cut a bone and lose tissue.

Doxycycline as antibiotic for 10 days. Rimadyl for antiinflamm for 10 days.

Light Massages on the leg started after 3rd day starting from toe up to back and to neck to stimulate the leg muscles. Bicycle motion therapy for a week.

Days 1-5:

We did very short leashed potty walks. I had built a ramp for her for back deck from before the surgery so we had no steps being its a Ranch house. She drank a lot within 24hrs of coming home. She started eating after 24hrs and man she was hungry. I fed her less being we are restricted from exercise.(I didn’t want her to put on weight). She was pottying just fine. Kept cone off when I was with her. I recommend buying the “Comfy Cone” instead of using that plastic cut throat garbage. I did not ice the area but checked incisions daily.

Day 4:

As you’ll see in the video, she was walking nicely with a slight limp and looking more alert and in tune with things. I tried to play mental games with her as her walking was restricted but bones werent good to give since I wanted to keep her calories down. She’s allowed to walk around the house but NO STEPS. She basically laid down a lot first 5 days. I put a piece of carpet outside for her to enjoy the outdoors with me short tied leash. Stitches cannot get moist hence the carpet on grass.

Day 7:

She was putting full weight on leg hard to see any limp. We walked for 5 minutes down block for different scenery. She wanted to stay out there but I had to do whats best. Every other day increasing walk time by 3-5 minutes..

Day 14:

Stitches came out. All is well. They were thrilled how happy she looked. She jumped into backseat fine.(but that was the only jumping!!, No Furniture!…..well, except a low recliner -her favorite chair!). 15 minute walks now. Felt like a weight has been lifted to see her doing well.

Day 21 (3 weeks later):

My mistake for letting her loose in fenced in backyard; She chased a rabbit running at full force 50 feet away. She was sore and tired next day but looked fine. She would play dead on the recliner acting like her usual kooky self.

Day 28 (4 weeks after):

Back to normalcy and routines. 20-25 minute walks around the block. If she looked tired or uncomfortable I would drop the time walking as usual. She got to see the water and beach. Still on leash only! Luna was so ecstatic to be near the water.

9 weeks later:

Final xrays showed everything healed fine and Luna has a clean bill of health to return to normal activities.

11 weeks later:

Swimming freely and loose on the trails and in backyard.

TPLO for Dogs

I’m amazed at how fast things healed and how well she did. It made my decision so much easier and not regretful and I would recommend the TPLO to ANYONE who wants to see their pet back to normal. Time flies by and its so much better on our minds and their body to have them whole again. Technology is amazing and we have great surgeons who make all this happen. I just want to add, I have been hearing that once one ligament goes there’s a 60% chance another will tear within a year …. However, if you use common sense and let a dog limp for months without surgery they are putting pressure on other joints and ligaments so your chances are higher for it happening to another leg Without surgery. I recommend TPLO to anyone who wants normal back.

Surgeon = Dr. Palmisano in Norwalk, CT

20 thoughts on “TPLO Surgery and Recovery to 12 Weeks – Luna

  1. Great story & video on Luna. I`ve followed her progress on facebook. So glad that she has had an excellant recovery.

  2. Thank you for posting your story. My 5 year old Rottweiler is scheduled for TPLO surgery with Dr. Palmisano on Friday and your story has made me feel a lot a better about it.

    Zoe will have stairs to maneuver but Dr. Palmisano said she should be ok. She will require assistance initially.

    Luna looks great!!!! I hope and pray that Zoe does as well.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My dog, Dozer, had his TPLO last Friday, March 1, 2013. He is an 8.5 year old American Bulldog. He stepped off the couch about two weeks ago and started limping. I read your story before surgery, but I reread today. We are on day 11 and I can relate to everything you wrote. It makes me feel like I made a great choice and we are on the right track to recovery.
    Thank you again for sharing,
    Cathy & Dozer

  4. My Pit mix Sadie had TPLO when she was four – that was four years ago and she’s been doing great ever since. I know EXACTLY what you were talking about with the pain patch. Thursday Daisy, my ten year old Rotti mix, had TPLO. They did not give her a patch. Also, she did not have staples but sutures and the incision is much smaller and then there are a couple sutures farther down her leg. Amazing what this surgery can do. I am looking forward to Daisy’s recovery so she can get back out there and play with her sister. Thank you for sharing your story and video!

  5. This video of Luna’s recovery is one of the most inspiring and encouraging things I’ve seen since I began researching CCL issues. I’ve watched it several times and every time I hear “What A Feeling” start up and see Luna having a great time it brings happy tears to my eyes. Thanks for posting this!

  6. My 8 year old Lab Kali will be having the surgery thank you for your beautiful video of Luna.. of course I cried .. but it was so very helpful and eased my heart a little. Bless you and Luna.

  7. Thanks for the info. Our 6 year old English Bulldog “Rebel” had TPLO surgery at Ohio State U Vet Hospital on March 7, 2014. He walked out of the hospital the next day and has done great so far. We now basically let him walk as much as he wants (being a Bullie, that isn’t much) including a daily walk in the park…15-20 minutes. He seems happy with no pain. Per instructions we do not let him run and jump, since he wants to play a couple times a day. Our experience so far has been positive.

  8. Thanks so much for the video. My dog just had TPLO surgery yesterday. He will come home on Sunday. They keep him for a week to ensure no infection occurs. Love the video, Luna is amazing.

    1. Good luck Katrina. Our Bullie is now in the 7th week of recovery, and it’s a lot of work keeping him down and passive, but my wife and are getting through it. Every once in awhile we will let him be too active and he ends up limping slightly, which makes us feel terrible and guilty He wants to run and play, and it sort of breaks our heart to not let him. Don’t let your guard down…keep him restrained. It actually gets more difficult as the dog starts feeling better, but don’t let him run or jump.

      1. Sam

        So glad you sent a message. It’s good to hear from someone that is going through the transition of your furbaby therapy. Troy is very active as well, but I will do as you say and do my best to not let him run or jump. We’ll let you know how his first week goes when he comes home. Thanks so much Sam.


  9. It was a little bit of relief for me to read this story this morning as my baby 5 1/2 year old lab was dropped off 1 1/2 hours ago for this surgery. I am praying that everything goes well and that we will be able to see her tommorow.

    1. Linda. Our 6 year old English Bullie had TPLO surgery at Ohio State U. on March 26. He is now through and beyond the 12 week recovery and rehab period and is as good as new!!! You and your four-legger will do great…just follow the vet’s instructions on no playing, jumping, or running for the next few months.

      1. Sam, im so glad to hear your pups surgery went so well. We are scheduled to meet with the surgeon soon for the tplo surgery for our pup. Would it be possible for you to give me an idea on cost of surgery? we got a very rough estimate from our own vet but I just want to be as prepared as possible.

  10. Lauren. Rebel’s recovery went famously, although it was a burden on my wife and I to keep him quiet for the 12-16 weeks, or whatever it was. (We didn’t mind.) It has been 15 months and he is good as new. In fact, they told us when one knee goes out there’s a 50-50 chance the other will go out within 12 months but so far so good. Now the tough part…the operation was approximately $3,000 at Ohio State U Vet Hospital but we would do it again without hesitation. We have spoken to many people—vet medical and experienced lay persons–and everyone says to have the TPLO procedure and not the other one that uses a looped wire. I hope you can afford the TPLO…its a miracle. Good luck.

  11. Reading Luna’s story, and everyone’s comments has been such a huge help to us since our fur baby, Scout, our 2 year old choc lab had TPLO almost two weeks ago. Everything from Luna’s story was so familiar, and as we have had no friends go through this, this has really helped us. Thank you! Scout gets her stitches out tomorrow, and while she is going stir crazy at home, we are doing her best to keep her quiet. Today she had a big, naughty run when we weren’t watching, and is now looking a bit sore, hopefully a good rest will help and she will be back on track tomorrow. I hope everyone else’s dogs have recovered and are loving life!

  12. Mister Wilson, just had TPLO on Dec 7th and he is progressing nicely. He had a minor injury for 1 month, monitor and conservatively handled, until he tried climbing a wall and that was it. It was approx. 1mon before I had options and a surgery scheduled and time off arranged. My surgeon has recommended no PASSIVE MOTION and really no 2 week instructions, other then ice and heat. I have a Blog to follow his progress as there are recent tails of wagging after surgery.
    It will help with preparation and the journey to come! I am currently at 2weeks and Blogs like this and shared stores really help! Thank You!

  13. My 8 year old Lab Ozzy has just been through a bi-lateral TPLO surgery which i found a strain, The first one ruptured but in hindsight i had noticed he was slowing on our daily walks leading up to this, 1 week after surgery he was full weight bearing,, when he suddenly started limping on the other leg ! distraught i called the Vet who gave me the bad news. i had to medicate him for 8 weeks in order to build enough strength in the first leg. got to 10 weeks and he has had his second surgery.
    2 weeks on and i am pleased to say he appears to be reacting much better to the surgery on the 2nd leg.
    Back to 3 x 8 min walks a day and building back up to normal. Lucky to have insurance to cover the cost although i am nearly at my limit as they treat a bilateral and one diagnosis,
    i found so many stories like yours on the internet which have helped me to cope and see light at the end of the tunnel.

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