Simple Ways to Help a Dog After Orthopaedic Surgeries
What do you think the most common orthopaedic injury is for dogs? Surprisingly, ACL tears makes up to 65% of surgical orthopaedic caseloads for specialty veterinarians. For a full ACL tear in a dog's knee, the best and often only option is to perform a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy also called a TPLO. This surgical procedure removes the torn ACL and changes the biomechanics of the knee so the dog can function normally without the need of an ACL. Up to 40% of dogs that experience a tear in one ACL will tear the opposite knee’s ACL as well. Once the procedure is complete the dog and owner work through an intense series of physical therapy to help the dog heal, this makes dog joint care for the rest of the pet’s life essential.
There are some simple ways to help your dog after any orthopedic surgeries. Within a few days after surgery, you can begin icing the joint and massaging the muscles around the joint. This helps the muscles to not cramp, causing the dog further pain and will also reduce swelling. Another option is to provide your dog with heightened levels of vitamin C which is beneficial for dogs with any form of open incision. As in humans, dogs will experience reduced orthopaedic pain and reduced inflammation from the increased vitamin C which in turn helps to improve the healing process. Check with your surgical veterinarian for correct dosing and to make sure it’s an appropriate supplement choice for your pet. Lastly, with vet approval get your dog moving as soon as possible. The quicker your pet gets moving the less strength they will lose around the joint. Start with short, easy sessions of walking multiple times as day and slowly increase. Let your dog take the lead on this and watch for signs of limping, tenderness, and fatigue that indicate what is too little or too much in their rehabilitation.
Having to repair an ACL for a dog can be costly and most of all scary for the owner but given time many dogs return to 99-100% of activity and go on to lead happy and healthy lives.