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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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