What to Expect After CCL Surgery

Labs are at Higher Risk for CCL Injury

Whether your dog has undergone a TTA, TPLO, Tightrope, or traditional extracapsular imbrication repair, the steps following surgery are generally the same. Whether your dog stays the night at the vet’s after surgery, or head home with you the day of the procedure, the first few days following the CCL repair should be dedicated to making your dog feel as comfortable as possible. Be aware that your dog may have lost his appetite as a result of the surgery, so have stocks, rice, chicken, pumpkin and other whole foods readily available if he refuses his regular dog food.  Oral pain medications should never be given on an empty stomach, and having a number of different foods at your disposal will help make medication administration much more pleasant for you and your pet.

Make sure to give prescribed medications that control pain and reduce swelling in the stifle joint. If at any time you do not feel your dog’s pain is being properly managed, contact your veterinarian for advice on manipulating the doses to make them the most comfortable. Just as each dog is different with their injury, each dog will reaction to medications in their own way. Some dogs may become anxious, while others may be so heavily sedated that they are unable to go outside to relieve themselves. You want to avoid these extremes, work with the dosing to obtain both proper pain control without complete sedation.

Check the incision for signs of infection daily which include swelling, pain, discharge and redness. This is obviously not possible if your dog came home with a modified Robert Jones (or similar) bandage, but the same rule applies – check the area around the cast each day, making sure to check for any swelling, discoloration or infection. When checking the surgical site, a cold compress can be applied to the stifle three times daily, 10 minutes per session for the first 2 days to help reduce the swelling. Starting on the third day after surgery, a warm compress can be applied to the stifle in order to soften the connective tissues. Your veterinarian will instruct you as to whether to also pursue range of motion exercises or physical therapy at this time – this will depend on which procedure your dog underwent.

Male Boxer, Post TPLO Repair

Your dog should remain on a leash at all time for at least the first two months following surgery. They should also not go up and down steps, or be on uncarpeted floors. Exercise should be limited to to short leash walks for two months. During the third and fourth months after surgery, exercise should be gradually be increased to normal.
Running, jumping, and rough play are not allowed during the first four months after surgery.

Just remember to listen to your dog. They will make you aware of their comfort level, and let you know when they are ready to start using the injured limb more. No one is perfect, and we have all had those “oops” moments when our dog tried to do too much too soon, but just stay positive. Your dog has a keen sense of what you are thinking and feeling, and this ultimately will have an effect on their recovery.

15 thoughts on “What to Expect After CCL Surgery

  1. Thor, a 123 pound Newfie/Lab cross has had a rough recovery – to say the least….but here are a few tips for the dog who cannot or will not eat….(he had nothing to eat by hand until 5 – 6 days later). We used a syringe to give his antibiotics mixed in cherry jello liquid – good for his tummy and great to disguise the medication…Also had to give soup broth by syringe, water, and sometimes some melted ice cream just to ensure that there was some substance in his tummy to absorb the medications he was on. His recovery is now at 12 days and continues very slowly….but he is finally on the road back thanks to a drainage tube put in (at last) on day 7. Only in the last 2 days has he eaten (about half his usual appetite) by himself. Yesterday, he ate happily on his own to our great relief.

  2. Bella is a 155 Newf, and we’re quite worried about she will handle the recovery. We have a backyard with a porch, with about 6 steps down to the yard. This is normally where Bella goes to the bathroom, so we’re not sure what we should do. Perhaps block the stairs off and allow her to go on the back porch?

    Also, we have all hardwoods throughout and an open floor plan on the first floor, so we’re worried about her ability to recover in this environment. Am I being overconcerned or do we need to take additional steps to help her recovery?

  3. Hi Rob: Sadie is having TPLO on the 4th and we are worried about these things as well. We are borrowing rubber backed carpets and floor mats to cover our hardwoods and linolium. We have steps too (at all the doors). The neighbor may have a ramp we can use but I’m ordering a ramp of petedge.com so I can get her in and out of the SUV and the house. We will also be using a towel under her belly to help her up and down the stairs.

    I’m very concerned about doing everything right. I’m literally sectioning off parts of the house with big, solid, can’t jump on it or over it furniture. Sadie is a very active pit bull and I have no doubt she’d clear a baby gate and the stairs in no time. I even had the sofa removed to the neighbor’s garage until she’s healed. I’m feeling a little OCD coming on . . .

  4. I have 6 concrete steps, so I bought 2 9×10 (2 in thick) boards. Tacked some old indoor outdoor carpet on the and then bungee corded the togetheer. I practiced with her before surgey. She coes hoe Sat, but should e all set I also bought a sling but you can use a beach towel.

  5. According to the vet, my dog has a tendency to put on a show…. I always thought “listen to your dog” is the right way to go… and that’s what I’ve been doing, but apparently she is too intelligent and has now realized she can get her way by “faking” a bit. For example cries when I move her, but walks fine with others. Anyone have this issue? If so, what did you do? I want to do the best for her, but at this point, I don’t know what that is.

  6. my pit just came home from keen surgery a few hours ago. He had surgery this morning and has a bandage that looks like a cast on his back legg. How do you help him get up and walk a little to the bathroom? he crys and trys to bit, please help. we have stairs he would have to go doen to go outside and he is panting.

  7. I had a sling for Sadie when she came home. I got it from the vet. It goes under her belly and has handles. You can also use a big towel. Fold it lengthwise and put it under your dog’s belly on the end where he had the surgery. Then as he stands pull up on the ends to keep the weight off your dog’s leg. Walk right along beside him at a slow pace (with a lease on him as well) holding his weight with the towel and keeping it off the leg. I also borrowed a ramp from my neighbors to put over my stairs. Saide went through a panting phase too; I’d keep an eye on that and his temperature. Is he on a morphine patch or anything for pain?

    1. Hi, Thank you for responding. The forst night was pure hell, not just for me but for my Tyson. The vet did give me some pain meds but it was more like an advill anot a stron pain med. We tried the sling, he would not have it. He is doing much better, however very sad. I have never seen my dog so sad, its hard. He does not understand why he cant walk correctly or go anyplace, We were on a strict schedule and we took him every place we wemt. For now the only place Tyson has gone is to the vet to remove stitches.

      We have hired a babysitter for him, Tyson has not been home alone at all. We have a sitter for the rest of the week. How is Saide?

  8. Hi Olivia,
    I just wanted to check and see how Tyson is doing now – we just had TPLO done on our 5 1/2 year old lab Georgia this week. She is staying at the vets for a full week after her surgery, and they say she is doing great (although we are still very worried). Just thought I would see how he is doing a few months later…hope all is well!

  9. Our ten year ol black lab mix is having surgery THURSDAY Dec 28. She is our best athlete and now cannot even stand on her left leg. The vet is doing her operation Thursday and we are so nervous for her. Any advice on getting our home prepared? We have two other dogs, hardwood floors and two steps on the deck in the back to get to the grass in the yard. She is so smart and the best dog ever. I am worried she wont go bathroom on a leash or with a sling on her. I am worried she will be in pain too. Any help you can give will be appreciated. We love her so much…….her name is Whitney and she needs some prayers. Thanks.

  10. Hi! Will be thinking about you all and you are most certainly in my prayers as is Whitney. Not sure I would ever go thru that surgery with a dog I loved again…..Would invest my $ into a good brace and let it heal instead. Be prepared for lotsa love and nursing care required for Whitney – I can tell by your letter that you will turn yourselves inside out as we did. Think about getting some good slip free rubber backed mats for the places that she needs to go in the house (the Whitney Trail). Best Wishes for a speedy and full recovery!
    Take care,

  11. My lab rott mix had a partial ligament tear for a year. Affected him slightly and my vet and I treated him with supplements and anti inflammatory meds. Well, he finally tore it. Immediate surgery…no way a dog his size can heal that. Best decision I made. First few days just pampering and lifting weight off the leg when he roamed. Then the baggage off and freedom. Not. He wanted to hop everywhere. Slowly doing range of motion and hydro therapy. He is 2 weeks out and happy as can be. He still has a long ways to a full recovery, but at 8…we can take it slow and make sure his senior years are not filled with pain and leftover injuries.

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