How Long Does TPLO Surgery Take On A Dog?

Becoming a pet parent brings joy, laughter, and, occasionally, a little anxiety, especially when our four-legged friends require medical attention. One procedure that might spark a myriad of questions is TPLO surgery, which is short for Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. If you find yourself wondering about the duration, recovery process, and other aspects of this procedure, read on.

When we think about our dogs, it's often their playful energy and boundless enthusiasm that comes to mind. Their limbs, whether they're sprinting after a ball or jumping into our laps, play a pivotal role in these joyous moments. Just like with humans, a dog's limbs are essential for their day-to-day activities and overall well-being. Therefore, ensuring their health and functionality is paramount for any caring pet owner.

Moreover, just as we might take supplements to support our joint health, joint supplements can serve as a beneficial addition to our canine companions' diets. These supplements often contain ingredients designed to promote joint health, reduce inflammation, and enhance mobility. Especially for dogs who have undergone surgery previously or are predisposed to joint-related issues, integrating joint supplements can make a noticeable difference in their overall vitality and quality of life. As with all aspects of pet health, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet or care routine.

Understanding TPLO Surgery

TPLO is a surgical procedure often recommended for dogs with a cranial cruciate ligament tear, a common injury. Similar to the ACL in humans, this ligament plays a crucial role in stabilizing the knee. A rupture can severely impact a dog's range of motion and quality of life.

The CCL, found in the legs of our furry companions, functions primarily in maintaining the stability of the knee, enabling the fluid range of motion that we often see when they're playing or chasing a ball. When this ligament is compromised or torn, it affects the muscle mass around the joint due to reduced weight bearing and physical activity. Over days or even weeks, without proper intervention, this can lead to significant muscle loss and, consequently, more stress on the ligament and tissues in the leg.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy aims to address this by altering the dynamics of the knee, allowing dogs to bear weight more comfortably and regain their lost ability to walk comfortably. The procedure typically takes a matter of minutes to a few hours, with the preparation and post-operative care. Once the surgery is complete, the focus shifts to rebuilding muscle mass and gradually reintroducing activity to strengthen the leg and restore a balanced weight bearing across all limbs.

Duration of the Procedure

In most cases, the actual surgery takes between 60 to 90 minutes. However, this time frame can vary depending on the specifics of the cruciate ligament injury, any addition of complications like a meniscal tear, and the individual anatomy of your dog's legs.

The intricate nature of the surgery, specifically designed to address the cranial cruciate ligament tear, means that every procedure is unique to the dog. The presence of a cartilage tear, which is often associated with cruciate ligament injuries, can add some time to the surgery, as repairing or removing the torn meniscal tissue becomes imperative to ensure the optimal function of the knee. Similarly, instances where there's significant soft tissue damage around the ligament can require more meticulous attention, thereby potentially extending the surgery by several minutes.

Post-surgery, while the focus largely remains on managing pain and preventing implant failure, promoting healing in the initial days is crucial. Application of a heat pack, under the guidance of the veterinary surgeon, can help in soothing the operated area, facilitating better weight bearing across the limbs, and reducing swelling. Quick identification of any adverse reactions, such as signs suggestive of a failing implant or unexpected swelling, ensures a smoother recovery trajectory and reduces potential setbacks.

Post-Surgery: The First Few Days

Immediately after the surgery, it's vital to limit your dog's physical activity. Typically, confining them to a small room or a crate ensures they don't exert undue pressure on the surgical site, reducing the risk of becoming infected. Leash walks, for necessities, should be kept short. A long walk is not advised in these right after surgery.

On surgery day, it's not uncommon for pet owners to feel a mix of relief and anxiety. In some cases, the realization that the dog's surgical recovery is as crucial as the need for surgery itself becomes evident. Time spent monitoring your pet's surgery site for any adverse reactions and ensuring that they are comfortable can significantly aid the process of recovery. To alleviate swelling and discomfort, a heat pack can be applied cautiously to the operated area, but always under the guidance of your veterinarian. It's also essential to understand that TPLO isn't just about addressing a torn ACL. By adjusting the slope of the tibial plateau, the procedure aims to provide long-term stability to the knee, reducing the chances of arthritis. Arthritis treatment might be a parallel route of care for some dogs, especially if there were early signs before the surgery, to enhance the overall quality of their post-surgical life.

Knowing what to expect and being prepared for your dog’s TPLO surgery recovery in the first few days is pivotal. This initial phase sets the tone for the subsequent weeks, and with dedicated care, your furry friend will be on a promising path to full recovery.


Surgery recovery is a journey. In the initial weeks of recovery, putting weight on the operated limb is encouraged as it aids in building muscle mass around the knee. However, regular activity, especially those that strain the ligaments, should be avoided.

Veterinary surgeons at Laveen Veterinary Center often recommend supplements for the joints to aid in the recovery. These supplements help in strengthening the soft tissue around the joint. In addition to this, weight loss (if the dog is overweight) can reduce stress on the limbs and aid faster recovery.

The recovery journey post-CCL surgery, especially in TPLO cases, is a comprehensive blend of medical expertise and attentive home care. From the very day of surgery, it's imperative for pet owners to focus on the healing trajectory of their beloved companion. Just minutes spent observing their behavior, gait, and the surgery site can offer valuable insight into their well-being and recovery progression.

An ACL that's torn is one of the most common cruciate ligament injuries in dogs. By altering the slope of the tibial plateau, the TPLO procedure directly addresses this issue, ensuring the joint of the knee regains stability. However, achieving optimal weight bearing on the operated leg post-surgery is paramount to ensure the desired long-term outcome. Owners should be aware that the need for surgery was not only to remedy the current injury but also to preemptively address potential future complications. Regular check-ups and adhering strictly to post-operative care, which begins from the day of surgery, are pivotal. The blend of professional guidance from your veterinarian and vigilant home care by pet owners ensures that the surgical intervention yields the desired results and fortifies the pet's overall health trajectory.

Potential Complications

Like all surgeries, TPLO surgeries have their share of risks. In rare instances, failure of an implant or infection can occur. It's imperative to regularly check the incision site for signs of complications and illness. If any abnormalities are spotted, immediate consultation with a veterinarian is advised.

Every surgical procedure, including CCL surgery, has inherent risks, and it's essential for pet owners to be aware of potential complications following their pet’s surgery. One of the more concerning post-operative challenges is TPLO infections. These can manifest at the surgical site and, if not addressed promptly, can hamper appropriate bone recovery. It's crucial to monitor the incision and surrounding area closely in the time following surgery. Spending just a few minutes each day checking for signs of inflammation, unusual discharge, or discomfort can make a significant difference.

A torn ACL, a frequent form of cruciate ligament injury, demands a meticulous post-operative care routine to ensure good bone healing and the best possible long-term outcome. One cornerstone of this care is effective pain management. Veterinarians typically rely on post-operative injectable pain medications immediately following the procedure. As the dog transitions to home recovery, oral pain management becomes critical. It's not only about alleviating immediate discomfort but also facilitating optimal weight bearing on the affected limbs, which is vital for recovery. Furthermore, given that dogs with ACL injuries often have a predisposition to arthritis, adhering to an arthritis protocol becomes one of the important cornerstones of arthritis treatment. Ensuring joint health and mobility while minimizing inflammation can pave the way for a successful recovery and a high quality of life for your furry companion.

Returning to Normalcy

Full recovery and return to normal activity can take several weeks. A combination of restricted activity, leash walks to gradually increase the range of motion, and guidance from surgical veterinarians ensures a smooth transition. By the end of the recovery period, your dog should be ready for regular activities with a much-improved quality of life.

While the thought of surgery might be daunting, understanding the procedure, knowing what to expect, and being prepared can make the experience less stressful. At Laveen Veterinary Center, our team is committed to guiding you every step of the way, ensuring your furry friend's quick return to their energetic self.

The path to regaining normalcy after CCL surgery is one of gradual progression. As weeks pass, pet owners often find solace in seeing their dogs slowly return to their jovial selves. A significant aspect of surgery recovery is weight bearing. Monitoring how your dog places weight on their limbs during walks or play is crucial. In the initial time post-surgery, it's recommended to spend a few minutes each day observing your pet's weight distribution on their limbs. This not only provides a gauge of their recovery but also a sense of assurance to pet owners.

The cranial cruciate ligament plays a pivotal role in the knee joint's stability. Once affected and subsequently treated with CCL surgery, the healing process, especially TPLO surgery recovery, demands patience and attentive care. As the weeks progress, consistent weight bearing on the limbs ensures that the muscles around the joint regain strength and function. Frequent short breaks, spanning mere minutes, where you encourage your dog to stand and bear weight on their limbs, can aid in faster recovery. This repetitive yet gentle exercise ensures the limbs remain active and supportive. With time, these efforts compound, and before you know it, your furry companion will be prancing around with the same vigor and enthusiasm as before, having successfully navigated the challenging journey of surgery recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions About TPLO Surgery

Our veterinary center professionals are often asked questions about TPLO surgery; here are a few of the most common.

What is TPLO surgery, and why is it necessary?

TPLO surgery, or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, is a surgical procedure designed to treat cranial cruciate ligament injuries in dogs. It's deemed necessary when the ligament, which is crucial for knee joint stability, is damaged or torn.

How long is the recovery period after surgery?

Recovery can vary between dogs, but generally, most pets return to regular activity levels after 3-4 months, with careful management and follow-ups.

Are there any side effects or potential complications post-surgery?

While TPLO is a routine and successful procedure, complications can arise, such as infections, implant failures, or meniscal tears. Regular check-ups post-surgery can help mitigate these risks.

How soon can my dog bear weight on the operated leg?

Many dogs start bearing weight within a day or two after the surgery, but it's essential to follow the veterinarian's guidelines to ensure proper healing.

Are joint supplements necessary for my dog post-surgery?

While not mandatory, supplements for the joints can support joint health and enhance recovery post-surgery. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting any supplements.

How can I make my home safe and comfortable for my dog during the recovery period?

Ensure your home is slip-proof, avoid stairs, provide a comfortable resting area, and restrict any high-energy activities.

How often should I check the incision site post-surgery?

It's advisable to check the site of the incision daily for the first couple of weeks to monitor for signs of illness or any abnormalities.

What signs should prompt me to contact my veterinarian post-surgery?

If you notice excessive swelling, discharge, a significant change in your dog's behavior, or any signs of pain, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can my dog undergo TPLO surgery if they have other health issues?

Each case is unique. Your veterinarian will evaluate your dog's overall health and determine the safety and necessity of the surgery.

How can I prevent future cruciate ligament injuries in my dog?

Maintaining a healthy weight, regular moderate exercise, and potentially integrating supplements can help support joint health and reduce the risk of future injuries.

Schedule Your Appointment With Our TPLO Surgical Team

If you want to enhance your pet's mobility and well-being, please contact us at (602) 559-9600 or visit our website to schedule an appointment today. We serve Laveen and the South Phoenix region and are dedicated to delivering exceptional animal care. We take pride in treating our animal patients with love, care, and compassion.