Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Surviving The Post-Op: After Your Dog's ACL Surgery

You're probably all worried, I was too. Let me start with the good news. Based on my experience with Jasmine's bi-lateral ACL surgeries I truly believe that the post-op recovery is actually going to be much easier for your dog than it will be for you.

Dogs are survivors. They don't sulk or complain, they take what there is and make the best of it. They have an amazing ability to adapt and make things work. This is probably one of the times when the difference between a dog and a human attitude is the most profound.

The other good news is that from the moment of the surgery your dog is on his way to get well. That's what I kept telling Jasmine--and more importantly myself--when I was counting the days. You are one day closer to getting your life back. And then two …

Prepare your home

It will make it easier on both you and your dog if you plan ahead and get some things ready before the surgery. Of course if you have a little dog some of the points below won't apply, because you can simply carry your dog around. However, large breed dogs are more likely to suffer an ACL injury.

After your dog comes home, you will have to restrict his movement. Prepare a comfortable and safe place for your dog, ideally somewhere near you.

He will not be allowed to use stairs. This means he will be restricted to the main floor for some time. Think how you're going to make this work so your dog is excluded from your life as little as possible. Good spirits are important for physical healing.

We dealt with that by moving all our activity to the main floor, and because our bedrooms are on the second floor, I slept with Jasmine in the kitchen. Clearly you don't have to go to the same extreme, but whatever you're going to do, have it figured out before hand.

Slippery surfaces can be a danger to your dog after the surgery. You can assist your dog when walking on them, or you can do what we did--buy some cheap carpets and rugs and cover the entire main floor. Problem solved.

Are there a couple of stairs on the way to his potty place? Again, you can assist your dog by supporting him with a towel (towel-walking) or, if you have the means, you can build a simple ramp. Jasmine didn't like the idea of towel-walking at all. She would either freeze or move awkwardly backwards – clearly not very helpful when trying to assist her up and down the steps. She did however love her ramp. We also covered it with an outdoor rug to make a safe non-slippery surface.

If getting a ramp, make sure it's comfortably wide and with a very mild incline for safety (which means it will need to be fairly long as well).

Prepare your dog

If you never tried towel-walking your dog before, you might want to try and see how he responds to it. Place a towel under his belly and support his weight when walking. There are also some cool products designed for this purpose. In any case, I think it's a good idea to have this figured out before hand also.

Prepare yourself

The post-op is going to be quite similar regardless of which surgery you choose for your dog. It will be a long  journey. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is what will help you to get through it.

Prepare yourself for a visual shock. When your dog comes back home, his leg will be shaved, bruised and with a long incision. He might be quite spaced out from the surgery and from the meds. When Jasmine came home, her eyes looked quite bewildered. He will be using the leg very little or not at all.

Do your best to make him comfortable. Plenty of deep sleep is important for the healing process.

Have your vet explain the post-op rehabilitation to you in detail. You will probably get a printed sheet – read it and ask questions until you understand everything you need to do.

Taking care of the incision

Keep an eye on the incision. Make sure it remains dry and clean, do not allow your dog to lick it. This can lead to infections and neither you or your dog need the additional trouble. The incision shouldn't be bleeding or oozing.

TIP: We found that Preparation H (yes, the hemorrhoid ointment) works wonders in promoting faster deep wound healing. 

The PROM is not a party

Passive Range of Motion exercise (PROM) is an important part of your dog's post-op program. It is a flexing and stretching exercise that promotes joint health, prevents contraction of the muscles and stimulates blood and lymphatic flow.

However, there is a good chance your dog won't like it at all. Have your veterinarian show you how to do the exercise properly. I recommend you consider muzzling your dog for the exercise (simple cloth muzzle works fine).

Don't use force. If the joint is too painful to do the exercise, consult your veterinarian about pain management.



Bringing it home

Safety is the most important part of the post-op period. Do everything you can to prevent any mishaps. One bad slip or one bad jump of the couch can be disastrous.

Follow your dog's post-op schedule religiously. The better you do with that, the better and faster will your dog recover.

Figure out ways of entertaining your dog during his restricted exercise period. Try some clicker training. Get a lot of yummy chew toys. You can even try some dog companion videos, such as the ones by Stanley Coren.

It will feel like a lifetime. But that too shall pass.

Wishing your dog perfect recovery
Jana

Related articles:
Talk To Me About ACL Injuries
Preventing ACL Injuries In Dogs
ACL Injuries In Dogs: Xena's Story 
ACL Injury Conservative Management: Sandy's Story
Don't Forget the Physical Therapy
ACL Injuries in Dogs: Non-Surgical Alternatives?

126 comments:

  1. Great article! I recommend using a canine-trained physical therapist to adjunct the post-op care with ROM, massage, laser and other techniques for maximum healing and results. Thanks, Susan Davis, PT

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  2. Susan, thank you for reading, glad you like!

    Seeing a therapist wouldn't have worked out for us with Jasmine's ACLs at the time, since the risk associated with traveling was higher than the benefit would have been, plus had other things on her plate. Our surgeon did show us how to do things properly.

    Later, with Jasmine's muscle injury, we were seeing a vet chiro for underwater treadmill and other treatments.

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  3. just a quick follow-up--I understand your point about travel, which is why I provide PT in the home. It is a great practice model, except that I obviously cannot provide water therapy. Underwater treadmill and canine swim facilitites are so great 2 months or so after surgey. I am so glad Jasmine has recovered!

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  4. Susan, that is the perfect scenario! (PT in the home)

    Jasmine is doing quite great, her knees are solid and her arthritis not bothering her at all thanks to the stem cell treatment she got also.

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  5. I like icing too. Just for a few minutes twice a day and keep the wound dry. Nice article Jana.

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  6. Thanks for this detailed article! I am bringing my dog back home from her ACL surgery today and I'm anxious about what to expect and how to prepare the house. This was really helpful!

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    1. Glad you found this helpful! Glad the surgery went well, which one did you dog have?

      Did you get a detail post-op plan from your vet/surgeon? If not, please ask, or discuss the example post-op plan I have also posted.

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    2. She had the tightrope procedure. Our vet says he does at least one of these every week! We're hoping the other knee holds up - she's only 3 years old!

      I found a different post-op plan online and reviewed that with my vet http://www.cvahonline.com/home-care.html

      I'll compare it with yours - can never have too much info on this stuff! We bring her back in 3 days for a checkup.

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    3. I'd be very interested in updates, as I don't know any dogs who had this particular surgery.

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    4. We're 2 and a half weeks post-op for the tightrope surgery on our 3 year old lab/husky mix, and she just got the stitches out. She's been getting laser treatments to help speed up the healing, starting with twice per week, and now once per week.

      We brought her home the day after the tightrope surgery and she looked great - no bruising or anything. But the next morning when we let her out of her crate, she got so excited she jumped and bruised her knee. But, when we brought her back in for her 3 day checkup, they did the laser treatment and by the next morning the bruising and swelling was almost completely gone! I can't say enough good things about the laser treatments.

      She's been putting partial weight on her leg from day 1, but every so often (usually when we take her into the waiting room at the vet's) she tries to jump and causes some swelling. That has made her recovery take longer, but the swelling finally went down enough to take the stitches out and get rid of the cone!

      She's putting a little more weight on the leg, but definitely nowhere near what she was before the injury. We'll be starting short leash walks soon, so far it's just been out to the yard on a leash to potty.

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    5. Cold laser is certainly awesome for many things. Glad the surgery went well. The recovery does take time, just think how much healing there needs to happen to the knee and to the soft tissues around it and all. Lot of work for the body.

      This is one of the things that need time.

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  7. Wish I had found your site before Zeb's op. However, he has had the op today and your article is helping me to relax a little bit. The positive slant is really helping.

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    1. Glad you found my article helpful. I have a number of cruciate articles on the blog, if you do a search.

      Which surgery did Zeb have? Glad it went well. Do ask your surgeon for a detailed post-op rehabilitation plan, as that is as important as the surgery itself.

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  8. Our westie had Cruciate surgery yesterday. She is rightly feeling sorry for herself at the moment.
    She hasn't been to the bathroom and I am not sure if this is because she cannot squat as the surgery was on her back leg?
    Has anyone else experienced this post surgery with their dog and any tips??

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    1. She hasn't been to the bathroom - please explain
      a) hasn't gone outside at all
      b) hasn't peed
      c) hasn't pooped

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    2. I am not the original poster of the comment above, but I have the same question. My mixed breed just had surgery today, and as of 0200, she has not peed. One episode of explosive diarrhea, though. It does get better soon, right? I wish I had gotten this type of advice from our surgeon...I am really regretting putting my girl through this right now. Any advice would be SO appreciated!

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    3. Anna, how long hasn't she peed all together? Is she drinking? Any more diarrhea? Diarrhea COULD be a reaction to the anesthesia, antibiotics or stress. It could also lower the urine output if all the liquid leaves through stools.

      However, please do report all this to your vet. She might need a change in meds. And she does need to pee (I do hope she peed in the meantime)

      As for regretting the surgery, these complications are not very common and they should be very temporary and surgery is indeed the best way to fix a knee with busted cruciate ligament.

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    4. Our dog had the surgery four weeks ago; when we brought her home after the op she wouldn't go to the bathroom for about 3 or four days! I was freaking out! But eventually she went and its no big deal now!

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  9. Great article. We just brought home our 86LB pit/bulldog mix. He is only 14 months and already needs acl surgery on both knees. His TPLO surgery went great yesterday and the vet is very positive. I was not very prepared for the look and inability to hold the leg. Since he is so young and soft bones he has a split which will be changed in 5 days. Taking him outside was very traumatic. We tried the towel sling and he had trouble peeing. I can right in and ordered a harness from handicapped pets. I hope it arrives soon and figured since he needed the surgery later on the other leg this would help out.

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  10. My Tibetan terrier has just had a TPLO surgery and came home 2 days ago but hasn't been for a poo yet , maybe it's because she's on a bland diet of fish /rice/chicken/pasta or maybe cos she is scared to go for the discomfort she is in. Can anyone tell me how long it normally takes fir them to go?
    Ps great tips for post surgery.

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    1. If it's been two days I would start worrying. Jasmine would also not poo for a while after each of her surgeries, mostly because she didn't eat at the vets at all. But this is getting to be a bit long.

      No, I don't think it should be because of physical problem with going, or fear from going. She does squat to pee, right? Not that much of the difference, physically.

      So I'd talk to your vet, you want to avoid constipation and you do need to get the poop going.

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    2. Don't worry to much about going pooty poo:) too fast, the dogs intestinal tract will slow down a bunch after surgery, my lab waited a few days but was peeing the first day..... My surgeon explained it could be 2 to 7 days before the dog could possibly go POOTY POO!

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  11. My 4 yr old lab is having ACL surgery on Wednesday. My question is when you brought your animals home how did you get them out of the car? Did you need 2 people? My vet also isn't putting a cone on her. I think that's great BUT I don't want her to lick her wound. I bought a blow up one just in case. Any help would be great!

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    1. We had a truck, hubby was able to lift her in by himself. Our vet offered assistance, though.

      How much help your dog will need depends on the type of car (how high it is etc)

      We didn't use a cone either, I work at home and was able to watch her to make sure she leaves the incision alone. If she didn't, we would have to use something.

      There are other products out there now, more comfortable to the dog than the cone, too.

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    2. Note: since you still have time, you can consider getting a ramp, or PickMeUp Harness, or Bottoms Up Leash. Very helpful.

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  12. My 7yr old staffie had cruciate repair op on back left leg. He was feeling extremely sorry for himself and was back to normal on 3rd day. Bruising has appeared on day 3 tho and im wondering if thats normal? Does anyone know.....

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    1. Are you sure the bruising appeared? Or is it that you first noticed it? Because bruises change colors over time.

      There will be swelling and bruising post op. Unless the incision is angry and oozing, you're likely looking at normal part of the process.

      If you are concerned, you can always take some photos and send them to you vet/surgeon

      TPLO Recovery: What You And Your Dog Can Expect


      My Big Operation by Simon

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  13. Our 5 year old Rottweiler, Snot, had the tightrope procedure done 3 weeks ago. Now, he's being super stubborn and just holding his leg up...do you have any tips/tricks to help him understand that he can use his leg again?

    He lets me do the range of motion, put ice and heat on it, doesn't show any discomfort when I touch it. His last appt the vet said his knee was nice and strong.

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    1. I am hesitant to buy that he's just being stubborn. I feel that if he's not using the leg, he has a good reason for it. Truly.

      I'd go searching for what that reason is.

      Has he been using the leg at all post op? At least toe-touching? Or has he not been using it at all the whole time?

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  14. I have a pet dog also. I think this article will be a big help for me.

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  15. Thank you for all the advice! The towel walking is a great technique that helps a lot...and yeah I didn't even think about rugs for slippery surface thank goodness you mentioned that! Great that you post about these things. It's hard for dogs and owners and making the dog more comfortable and relaxed will definitely aid the healing process.

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    1. Glad the towel walking worked for you, Jasmine didn't like it very much. But many dogs take well to it.

      Taking care of anything slippery is a great help. These days, you could also try the ToeGrips, which help a lot as well.

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  16. Thanks for the advice. Biscuit my Mini Schnauzer had a fall and fractured her knee and severed her ACL. She has had it replaced. Today is day 4 post op. She won't walk on the injured leg. Looks like she is in pain constantly but still will make effort to come for food. I tell her to stop licking her wound which she does but I am not there during the day, so will speak to vet about cone. Feel sad for her to have a cone as well as everything else she is going through....How long was recovery for you?

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    1. Poor girl. Talk to your vet about adequate pain management. The fact she's not walking on it this early is not a surprise, though.

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    2. My cat just has surgery to repair three snapped ligaments (this morning). She looks like she is in so much pain - curled up, and when she moves she whimpers. Is this normal after such a major surgery? She is on buprenorphine already for pain.

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  17. Please someone!

    My cat just had surgery to repair her three torn knee ligaments. She got home this afternoon and has been laying down, whimpering when she changes positions and just generally looking like she is in so much pain. Is this expected so soon after a major surgery like this (she was under anesthesia for almost 2 hours because of the complexity of her case)? It is killing me to see her like this - she is my baby. I will call the vet if she does not improve tomorrow. Just looking for some advice or encouragement.

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    1. HI Jillian,

      there is expected to be a source of pain BUT there is also expected to be an adequate pain management in place. If you cat is in pain, you need to get back to your vet/surgeon and have the pain management plan revised.

      You cat should not be in pain! There should be adequate medication to prevent that.

      Do call them right away, they need to adjust the meds.

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    2. I was so exhausted I don't even remember posting here twice, and sounding so frazzled.

      Update: the next morning she was no longer vocalizing or shaking. She took it easy for a couple of days and now she is wanting to walk and play and run. It is SO hard to keep her still (she is a cat, after all). She twists and kicks when it's time for medicine - I hope that can't compromise the surgery. She had Tightrope, which is way stronger than normal extracapsular, so that makes me feel a little bit better. I stay with her all day, watching Cat-TV shows on Youtube or playing with her favorite toy - that twisty thing that comes off of a gallon of water when you first open it. I will be on edge until she is back to 100%.

      She toe-touched the next day, and is now walking with a limp - sometimes the limp is very noticeable, other times very mild. She is weaning off Buprenex because it made her quite constipated.

      How did you all handle the emotional stress? I am just a wreck, paranoid about whether every move she makes will cause the surgery to fail. Did you have any "close calls"?

      I'm glad there is a site like this, even if it is not about cats - there is pretty much nothing on cats' CCL injuries.

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    3. Hi Jillian,

      glad she improved. Yes, it is very stressful, but one kind of gets used to it with time and improvement.

      Some limping this soon after surgery is to be expected; there was a lot of tissue trauma which needs to heal. You vet should have given you a rehab and progress schedule ...? That way you'd know what to expect and also what to do.

      As for moves, the most dangerous are the ones with high impact or twists. With dogs, it is recommended they don't jump off and on anything and don't use stairs. Not sure how this can be applied to cats - is she being crated? Just kicking legs in the air shouldn't be a major risk I wouldn't think, as there is no impact involved.

      Do what you can and hope for the best. Think of what's the worst that can happen - that the surgery would need to be done all over - which wouldn't really be the end of the world.

      Best of luck and speedy recovery

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    4. The vet's only instructions were to keep her in a room with no furniture to jump on, for a month. He said that the procedure stabilized her knee immediately. I've done relentless hours of Google-ing though, and there isn't much information on cats. A few veterinary sites do suggest that a cat's lighter weight necessitates less restriction.

      I wish I had time to research and compare a bunch of vets, but her knee was so badly damaged (three ligaments gone, putting 4th at risk) time was crucial. He is a published researcher, former professor at OSU, works with VCA and with all the local vets, seems very respected - so I was surprised when there was such little instruction after her surgery.

      My cat is my entire world, though, so I am going to learn all I can about recovery, and I am asking about laser therapy tomorrow.

      Thank you for your quick responses. Your blog is amazingly informative!

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  18. Well, I don't know anything about cats either, just about dogs and about knee surgeries. I fully agree with the not jumping. It could be true that since cats are generally lighter, one month of restriction is enough.

    For more specifically cat information, you need to find a cat blog :-) This is a dog blog. You could try www. pawbly.com

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  19. Thank you so much for posting this! Just knowing others have gone through this and made it out okay lets me know that I'm not alone and gives me hope that my baby will get better! I've put him in a room where he'd only be able to get up and walk about..5 steps. Right now he's definitely not wanting to do that as this it has been only two days since his surgery and he was just brought home today. He is on sedatives because he had a panic attack which made his temperature rise up to 108 so he's been sleeping since I brought him home about 5 hours ago. But, how long was it until your dog wanted to start getting back into old routines? And did you apply the Prep H on the bruises or the incision?

    Thanks again for posting this!

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    1. You're definitely not alone, this is, sadly, quite a common injury.

      So sorry about the panic attack and hyperthermia. We've been through that with Jasmine too, though under different circumstances.

      Given the sedation, the hyperthermia and the fact it's ony two days since surgery, I wouldn't expect him to want to do much. All that would have taken a lot out of him. Which would change the timeline of expected early progress too.

      Is he eating and drinking normally? Did the vet give you specific instructions for care, particularly after the hyperthermia? When did he last pee and poo?

      Which surgery did he have?

      I used the Prep H on the incision, where it wasn't healing as well as it should. The bruises look horrible but will go away on their own.

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    2. He's eating and drinking fine. Due to the hyperthermia he stayed an additional night and was given a lot of fluids so he has been peeing a lot all day. Unfortunately, he has also been peeing a lot in the house (about once every two hours so far). Did you have problems with that as well? He has not gone poop yet but I will wait until tomorrow since he didn't eat much until today.

      The vet did give me instructions to watch his temperature which I've been doing ever 1-2 hours but they said it was probably due to anxiety.

      He had TPLO surgery. Around when did you feel it was a good time to use Prep H?

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    3. Eating and drinking is a good sign.

      Peeing in the house could be due to a number of things, the increased fluid intake, and even the sedation. Is he mobile enough to go out to potty?

      We didn't have this problem after Jasmine's knee surgeries, but Cookie, after anesthesia, was leaking quite a bit that day. And the more fluids, the more they want to come out.

      Jasmine's hyperthermia was drug-induced (Buprenorphine). Keeping an eye on the temperature is a good thing to do, we were measuring Jasmine's a lot for a while.

      You might not need the Prep H if the wound is healing the way it should. Jasmine's incision had a portion which didn't want to stay on track with the healing. Of course, if the incision isn't healing the way it should, you do want to tell the surgeon first, before trying any treatments.

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    4. He's still a bit hesitant on walking which I understand but he also can't seem to hold it long enough to get outside. I'm praying that it will get easier the next couple of days because today has been incredibly hard just seeing him like that.

      He is the type of dog who doesn't like to pass by a place where he has used the restroom so when he went in the house he ended up laying in bed and hiding his face.

      Another problem with trying to take him out to potty is his anxiety. The minute the towel goes under him and he is asked to get up he begins to freak out and his temperature shoots up.

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    5. When he gets up he tends to panic which causes his temperature to rise. The vet said that when he was there he walked around just fine however that doesn't seem to be the case here.

      I attempted to take him out earlier and I wasn't able to make it out of the room before he began peeing. When he got back he was feeling a bit warm so I took his temperature and it had gone up to 103.4. He's at about 102.1 right now but it's been a few hours since he was last taken out and I'm about to try again to see where it goes.

      I ended up placing a fake grass patch that is used for potty training so he can use that if he can't make it. I'm just afraid of him feeling that he can start doing that from now on and not ever have a reason to leave the room. Not sure if that happens with dogs though.

      I'll do that. He wasn't bruised the day after the surgery however, today when I went to pick him up he had numerous amounts of bruises.

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    6. Not being able to hold it long enough is probably still from all the fluids. Should stop by tomorrow, unless he's still drinking a lot ... ?

      The towel is great if the dog accepts it. Jasmine didn't like that idea either. If you don't have slippery floors (or can put down rugs) and if you don't have stairs to potty (can put a ramp) than you might not need the towel.

      Try desensitizing him to the towel - show the towel and give yummy treats. Then place the towel and give yummy treats (don't make him do anything). Slowly try working your way up to getting up and walking.

      I am quite concerned about the fluctuating temperature. If the gets too hot, try wet/damp towel on him. Did the vet say when the temperature should stabilize and what to do if it keeps going crazy?

      I wouldn't worry about house breaking habits right now, sounds like he's not happy making the mess.

      Bruises, if you observed on your own, do change colors over time. So they seem to get looking more sinister after couple daysl.

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    7. He is still drinking a lot but I'm trying to restrict it a bit. I called the vet after the first incident and they just said to monitor him and go from there.

      Unfortunately, he hates the towel as well. I do have tile which is an issue however, he doesn't want to get up at all. I've even tried just encouraging him and he kind of looks at me like I'm nuts.

      I've had my fan going on him for a bit now. I'll continue to monitor his temperature but I agree, it is alarming. Especially after the hyperthermia.

      When I attempted to try and take him outside again to go to the bathroom I discovered that his bed was wet as I was trying to get him up. So unfortunately he wasn't able to make it out.

      Due to him going on his bed, he tried to move himself a bit by sliding down. I assume he was trying to slide down off the bed but didn't make it too far. Unfortunately, when I looked at his leg again, the bruising got worse. It may be because he tried to slide down but I'm not completely sure.

      I'm sorry about the double post! I typed up one part on my phone and wasn't sure if it sent so I responded again on my laptop.

      Hopefully tomorrow is better! :)

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    8. I'd talk to the vet about restricting the water. Because if his body needs all that water to get something out, than it would be wise to provide it. I realize that it is a problem with the potty. But I'd talk about it with the vet.

      Yeah, tile would be a problem. Any cheap rug(s) you can grab to cover at least some of it temporarily? He won't get up even for a yummy treat?

      You might also invest into some pee pads for the bed etc, at least as a temporary solution.

      How immobile is he?

      Cannot judge the bruising without seeing it, you might want to take some photos and send to the vet also.

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    9. I tried calling the vet who did his procedure but she's out of town for memorial weekend unfortunately.

      I've been using some rugs around the house but the room is close to the garage and he isn't used to going out the garage so we've been taking him the longer route to the front door.

      We decided to move him to the kitchen around the back door and I had planned on sleeping in the kitchen with him. He had another accident there as well. I took him outside and he continued using the restroom. I brought him back in and he laid down but the minute I turned my back he tried to run off into the room he usually sleeps in as it's really, really cold in there.

      So he's not as immobile as I thought.

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    10. See how quickly you can get your hands on Toe Grips (look it up, it's a great little product to help with traction)

      I slept with Jasmine on the kitchen floor countless times :-)

      All this drinking and pee problems still happening would concern me. If you can't talk to the surgeon, try talking to another vet.

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    11. I'll give his primary vet a phone call tomorrow.

      How often did you take out Jasmine? Maybe I'm just not taking him out as much. Part of me is too scared to constantly keep moving him.

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    12. Jasmine didn't have a change in drinking. Normally she'd need to go out about 3x daily. Though normally we'd let her out
      1x in the morning
      1x at noon
      1x at dinner
      1x before bed

      Once we started rehab work, 3 to 5x a day for very short little walks. That's all she ever needed.

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    13. Was that with or without the towel? How long did you use the towel for?

      Thank you for being so awesome with responding to all my posts! This has all really helped me more than you know! :)

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    14. We did not use the towel because Jasmine wasn't responding well to it - would freeze or walk backward ...

      We had a ramp made so there were no stairs she'd have to use and we plastered the floors with carpets.

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    15. How is the drinking and peeing today? How is the temperature?

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    16. The drinking still seems like a lot but the accidents are becoming less and less (so far there has only been one today!).

      It's becoming more difficult to use a towel with him since he keeps trying to walk on his own but I guess that's a good sign.

      His temperature is steady now, thankfully. However, the bruising on his lower abdomen is getting worse while the bruising on his leg is getting better.

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    17. Yes, it's a good sign that he's trying to walk on his own. Maybe you just want to keep the towel there as a safety but not actually pull on it. Just have it there in case he needed support. I was doing it that way after Jasmine's hyperthermia when she really was barely walking and could fall down at any moment.

      Glad the temperature is steady.

      Bruising on his lower abdomen? From a knee surgery? Why would there be bruising on the abdomen? Am I missing something?

      Glad less accidents. Strange still drinking "a lot" perhaps from the meds ...? Did you ask your vet about that?

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    18. Right. The lower abdomen bruising is weird to me too. Especially because when I googled dogs who have had ACL surgery it only showed bruising on the leg around the incision site.

      I called the place that Mason (my baby) got his procedure done at and unfortunately the surgeons were not there for memorial weekend.

      I spoke to those who were and they said that it's normal but if it is still there when we go back (at the 2 week checkup) they will look into it. Still concerns me though. The surgeons will be back tomorrow and I plan on sending them pictures through email and seeing what they have to say.

      As far as the excessive water, that's what I was told. He was also prescribed sedatives for when he needs to be taken out since he wouldn't walk without starting to panic. So, they said the medication could be the cause to that.

      My main concern right now is the bruising. I'm not sure what's going on there but I've been monitoring it and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Hopefully I'll be able to talk to the surgeon who performed his surgery tomorrow.

      Delete
    19. Yes, bruising should be only around the surgical site. What is the gum color? Any bleeding from the gums or anywhere else?

      They said it is normal to have bruising on the abdomen after leg surgery? Is the bruising on the leg and the abdomen about the same color? Or is the abdominal bruising looking different (dark)? Any changes in color of the tongue?

      I'd talk about this to your regular vet to see what they think about this.

      Delete
  20. Did you have any problems with Jasmine sleeping? Some nights I'll wake up around 3 am and find Mason just sitting there. Like tonight. I gave him some pain medication in case that was what's wrong and took him outside to potty but it's been over an hour and he's still sitting there.

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    Replies
    1. Well, yes, but that was unrelated to the surgeries. She had this unrelated problem prior and after. There was no change during the post-op.

      What you describe does sound kind of strange. Could it be pain? Could it be from some of the meds? What kind of meds is he still on?

      Delete
  21. Renu, how is he doing? How is the belly bruising? Limping? Mobility?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Sorry! It's been a crazy couple of days. The bruising has gone down and he's been going to the bathroom without the towel. The accidents are done too! There is still a little bruising on his abdomen but it's much better than before. He's also becoming more stubborn with licking his incision. When the cone comes off for dinner he immediately tries to lick it. The random waking up in the middle of the night is still happening but he only sits for about 15 minutes then turns around and goes back to sleep. He's doing much better but it's getting harder to see him stuck in that little area of the kitchen.

      Delete
    2. Glad to hear about all those improvements.

      Incision licking is a bad plan. How does the incision look? Well closed and dry? Any chance it's irritating him or hurting? There are creams out there you could ask your vet to give you to help discourage licking (this is applied around the incision, not directly on it)

      He's going to have to be restricted for quite some time yet; I know it's sad. There are games and activities you can do, though; there is a video with good examples somewhere on my blog too)

      Delete
    3. I'll be taking him to the vet this week to make sure all is okay. It bled a bit due to someone leaving his cone off. It doesn't look bad now but I'm still worried and don't want to take any risks.

      Did you let jasmine out of her crated area at any time other than for bathroom breaks? I know Mason hates sleeping in the kitchen so I'm wondering if it'd be okay to let him nap in another room once in a while or not.

      Delete
    4. Yes, particularly if it was bleeding, have it checked.

      Jasmine wasn't crated at all, but don't take it as a rule. I work at home so I was with her at all times and she wasn't one to do any crazy things in the house.

      Main problem during post-op is impact; whether from jumping, fast accelerations and stops. Also stairs, because there is plenty of impact with that also.

      Can you move the crate to another room? Can you create a closed area in another room? Are there stairs anywhere near and can those be blocked off?

      He would naturally want to be close to you and he might also prefer a more comfy spot. So I'd either move the crate, get another one or create an inclosed space in other way so he can be where you are/where he wants to be.

      Delete
    5. He tends to want to move between two rooms and the living room since he likes to go where it's the coldest. I've been keeping him out of his gated area (I've been using one of those play pens) and letting him sleep where he wants when I'm home and when I'm not I leave him in a room. Thankfully stairs are not an issue and the couch which he usually loves to jump on has been blocked off.

      He never likes to lay in one space for too long which I think is what caused him to sit up in the middle of the night and do nothing for over an hour.

      Delete
    6. You might have good success getting him the Cooling Bed. When we got it for Jasmine, she clearly preferred it to anything else and spent about 90% on there and only 10% anywhere else.

      Delete
    7. I've actually never heard of that! All you do is just fill it up with water and that's all?

      Delete
    8. Yes, you fill it with water and that's all. (Gotta make sure you get all the air out) It has quite a cooling power and remains cool even if used for a long time. Jasmine loved it.

      Delete
    9. This is the one we used; not sure whether they have a newer model now.

      Delete
  22. Our lab mix had Tightrope Surgery for his ACL 3 months ago and he still favors his bad leg. He will not put 100% weight on it and will lift it when he runs. Our surgeon says the procedure went well and it has healed correctly but does not know why he still favors the bad leg. I've done mild PT with him and he will go for walks but gets tired and starts to limp at the end. Just trying to see if anyone else has had a longer than usual recovery time for this surgery.

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    Replies
    1. Without having more details, it is hard to judge. I believe that 3 months post-op he should be using the leg well. How did the vet evaluate the progress? Perhaps it is time to get a second opinion.

      Delete
    2. Our bichon just cam home from his surgery yesterday. Today, he was sleeping in his crate. I had the door open because I was nearby. The next thing I know he came out of the crate and before I could get to him, he jumped onto the couch. He seems perfectly fine, but I am just sick. How would I know if he hurt himself? He is not acting any differently, but I am so worried. That door is staying shut from now on.

      Delete
    3. Not every single jump will result in a mishap. So if everything looks good, you should be good. If he hurt himself, you'd know. It's a good sign that he feels well enough to get on the couch.

      However, to prevent potential mishap, which are most likely to happen with jumps, please make sure he doesn't do that again. If you do want him to be able to get on the couch, you could get a ramp for him.

      Delete
    4. Thank you so much Jana. I feel much better now. And, don't worry. I won't let that happen again. It was so kind of you to respond.

      Delete
  23. I have a 22month old lab 11 days out from TPLO. She has been so stressed every time we kennel her that we have had to partially sedate her. She will get her stitches out in 2 days. Last weekend she jumped up on my husband and was up and around more than she had been although She is restricted to one room and we have had someone with her all the time. She was walking on the leg pretty good a couple days after surgery but since the jump she is limping more. She is also out of pain meds. Should I be worried that she has damaged her 'repair?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every time there is a post-op set back, it is a reason to check it out and make sure that nothing went really wrong. TPLO is fairly forgiving but damage can be done. I'd consult with the surgeon and have it take a look at it.

      Also if she's still in pain she should be getting adequate pain management. So talk to your surgeon about that also.

      Delete
  24. Did you use a kennel to limit activity and mobility immediately following surgery? What size? Should it be smaller than would typically use to prevent standing or sudden movements?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did not use it because Jasmine was calm enough in the house. But in many cases this does need to be used.

      It has to be large enough so your dog CAN stand up, turn around etc. Just shouldn't be able to run or jump. Might want to discuss the exact ideal size with your vet.

      Delete
  25. My Golden Retriever Madison age 9, hurt her right rear leg yesterday. We took her to her vet, and she was diagnosed with a torn ACL and meniscus. She had the same surgery on her left rear leg 4 years ago. I am just wondering if I should put her through that trauma again. She is in great health, and still thinks she's a puppy. It is so traumatic though. The vet. said that they've done the surgery on older dogs than Maddie. Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey there, did anyonre find anything good for your dogs entertainment while they were resting their leg? I want to make sure our dog is resting but not bored ridged. Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
  27. Miss Daisy, my website mix had acl surgery 10 days ago. I am having to force her to drink water with a turkey baster and an concerned about dehydration. Is this normal? She is eating ok, not her usual appetite, but healthy. I add water to her meals also. And she doesn't have much energy. She won't even walk to her food dish. Is this expected?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which surgery did she have? Does she bare any weight on the operated leg? What pain management is she on? What does the surgical site look like?

      10 days post surgery Jasmine was eating and drinking normally and she was bearing some weight on the leg. Was going to potty with no issues and wanted to go for walks, just wasn't allowed yet.

      I'd want to make sure that
      - there is no infection going on at the surgical site
      - there is adequate pain management
      - it is possible that the pain meds are making her lethargic (depending on type and dosing)

      Talk to your surgeon about it.

      Delete
  28. My 50kb shepherd mix is having tbi surgery tomorrow and im wondering what the total time he will be crated for recovery. My vet said 8 weeks which seemed like a lot? I'm also concerned that this will totally break his spirit. How do I keep him from that? Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TBI - brain surgery? If your vet says he needs to be crated for 8 week, it is best to stick with that for the dog's own good. I have no experience with this surgery, so I don't know what the post-op would encompass. Do make sure your vet gives you a post-op plan and recommendations on what kind of things he can do, whether he could play some of the crate mentally stimulating games etc. Placement of the crate(s) will also make a difference for his spirits (he'll be happier being close with everybody)

      Delete
  29. My dog had acl surgery on February 10, so far so good... she is eating/drinking and going to the bathroom. Not using the leg at all right now however but that's ok (for now of course). Your page here is very helpful, I don't understand the preperation H thing though, could you please explain that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What surgery did she have? Is she on pain management?

      The prepH was used because couple of Jasmine's staples allowed the incision to be more open than it should and it wasn't healing as it should (not infected, just opening a little with movement. The prep H allowed it to heal quickly.

      Delete
    2. Hi again, thank you for the quick reply- I understand the Prep H thing a little more now, I won't worry about that although I like the idea of healing quicker.
      She had the surgery where they use the "fishing line" and make a new joint with it (does that make sense?). She is doing well, eating and drinking, going to the bathroom etc. She of course is not using the leg yet but it's only been a couple of days and i'm trying to make sure it heals and she doesn't lick it or anything. Any tips is appreciated but reading all of the above has been helpful as well (you and others, thank you all).

      Delete
    3. She holds the leg up and out for the most part. She will "toe-tap" when she is standing though. The leg is swollen though, I think it's getting better however so i'm hoping any day she uses it just a bit more to take pressure off the other leg. I'm confident yet, it was only Wednesday she had the surgery.

      Delete
    4. SOME swelling post-op is normal. But I'd talk to the vet and send some photos. If nothing else, pain management seems inadequate to me.

      Delete
  30. I'll keep an eye on it, I don't think there is anything out of the ordinary though. I do have to stop at the vet tomorrow so I will ask them then.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks so much for this post. My dog recently was hit by a car and now I think she will need surgery. It's a tough situation, but I'm confident she'll be fine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry about your dog. Best wishes for easy post-op.

      Delete
  32. Hi Jana, thanks for the article. My dog is having ACL SURGERY on both his hind legs tomorrow morning. Do you have any tips for a dog that can't use either hind leg? He's also have his luxating patellar fixed on both legs. Ugh I'm so nervous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your vet/surgeon should guide you through the process in detail. If they don't offer a detailed plan and instructions, ask for them.

      Meanwhile, hind end support of some sorts will be handy. If you have time you can look into some products such as Bottom's Up Leash or similar. If you won't have time to get that, you can try "toweling" which means supporting your dog's hind end by running a towel under the belly and helping to take the weight of the hind end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz4Ts1cncAw

      Which type of surgery is your dog having? Types like TPLO do allow for better use of the legs sooner.

      Of course, in either case you want to make sure your dog doesn't get a chance to do something silly such as running or jumping (including on and off furniture etc)

      Look up example post-op plan on my blog.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! I'm not sure what type of surgery. I know they used nylon wire. I did buy a walkabout harness and I'm hoping it works. I'm petrified of this recovery.

      Delete
    3. That's what's called "traditional" repair. Not as forgiving, so you gotta be really careful during the post-op.

      Delete
  33. Thank you so much for your article! My dog had a bilateral TPLO on Thursday.

    I have been noticing that she has been shaking/shivering today...is this normal? I feel like I read somewhere that that can be a sign of anesthesia leaving the body. I just want to be sure that it isn't an early sign of an infection. Her incision looks great! Of course I came home last night from work and her cone was off :) silly pup!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anesthesia drugs should clear out faster than that. I would definitely talk to the surgeon about that. Could be inadequate pain management. Infection could be internal.

      Delete
  34. Jana,

    Thank you for your post! My dog will have tplo surgery later this week. She is 40 lbs and I can carry her. I'm trying to prepare. The towel is a great idea. In terms of stairs, do you know if it is safe to carry them to a second floor or should that not be attempted? We sleep upstairs. Also my dogs go to work with me. What about short travel after surgery? Safe or not? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you can carry he safely and make sure she doesn't use the stairs on her own (closed doors, baby gates ...) then there is no reason for her to be carried to the bedroom with you. Please note that jumping on and off furniture is a bad plan. If she's used to getting on the bed with you, you might need to consider ramp or other way of preventing her from hopping up and down.

      With travel it's the same. Going for rides is a good way for them to get out of the house but only as long as no jumping and carrying on while in the vehicle or while at work with you.

      Delete
  35. My dog, a boxer mix, had ACL surgery on December 29 and is doing really well. He has been released for limited activity but will be fully released at the end of the month. However, he has started licking the knee where the repair occurred. It was never an open wound but it is become one. Any tips to stop the licking other than to watch I'm closely? Has anyone else had this problem?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Teri, glad your dog is recovering well. I am very concerned about the state of the wound as you describe it; at this point it should not open and the dog should not have a reason to lick it. I'd start first by having the surgeon examine the site to make sure there is no infection going on in there. Particularly since she didn't bother with the incision before and does now.

      Delete
    2. My golden retriever had knee surgery 14 weeks ago. At her 12 week check up she had a slight limp but vet said she was doing really well and should be given more freedom. Yesterday her limp was more pronounced. Today the same thing. We are calling the vet tomorrow but we are very concerned. Is this common?

      Delete
    3. Hi Nancy,

      which surgery did she have? How old is she? How much "more freedom" did she get? Yes, do talk to the vet.

      Delete
  36. My golden retriever had ACL surgery 14 weeks ago. She went for her 12 week check up and had a slight limp. Vet said she was healing well and give her more freedom. Yesterday she started a more pronounced limp and is putting less weight on that leg. We are calling the vet tomorrow. Has anyone else had this experience?

    ReplyDelete
  37. So good to read all these comments, my grandson has a Rottweiler 130 lbs he needs ACL surgery in the next 2 weeks, we are taking him to a sport orthopedic surgeon, how do we know which surgery they should do the TTA or the TPLO, he is a very active 4 yr old even as big as he is he wants to jump everywhere, we need to make a ramp so he can be taken outside to go potty, what kind of ramp do u suggest since he is a big dog, I know this.is going to be difficult especially since there is a yorkie in household and they love to play, It is very helpful reading others experiences and I will probably be back in touch after surgery with questions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your surgeon should be able to give you a recommendation after evaluating your dog. If the surgeon feels both options are equally good, then go with the one the surgeon has more experience/success doing. Because that matters a lot.

      Do ask the surgeon for a detailed post-op plan including management and therapy.

      There are couple articles on ramps on my blog, look them up. It should have good width and as mild of an incline as possible. Of course, it has to be stable and support the weight safely. We had good experience with ramps, both to the yard post-op and to a vehicle.

      Unfortunately, before the leg heals, he cannot run around and play with the other pups, unless they are used to playing without much jumping and running. The little guys can't hurt him but he could hurt himself. It will be important to manage things to avoid mishaps.

      Delete
  38. My 4 y/o Standard Poodle will have TTA surgery for a partial tear of his right CCL. I am terrified of the post-op since I will be the only caretaker. My vet has performed over 200 of these with great results as he has told me. Anyone that has had TTA on their dogs and the results would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  39. TTA surgery is a good option. The post-op expectation is more terrifying that when it actually happens. Like with many things. Do make sure, though, that your surgeon gives you a detailed post-op plan. This should include day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-months steps including PROM exercises, when and how long can your dog start going on walks (multiple very short ones after the first week usually), what progress you should expect seeing, when to contact the surgeon ...

    ReplyDelete
  40. Great post! There's some really helpful information here. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for this. I'll have to read through more replies as I have time. My rottweiler tore her ACL a day ago and is set for surgery sometime this week. Its the long weekend, of course, so we are just waiting for Tuesday when the vets can decide which procedure she needs. Its already hard on my active girl (probably more so on me) so wish us luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best of luck. Yes, it is hard, particularly for an active dog. Keep us posted.

      Delete
  42. This is such an awesome article. My female rottweiler had to have a TPLO surgery on her right hind leg, and let me tell you I WAS A WRECK. She was at the vet for three days and I missed her so much, and when she came home I was so happy. But it was A LOT of work. Keeping her from licking her incision, keeping her from walking on it too much, having to lift her back legs when she went outside. It was just a lot. Had I found this article earlier, I feel like I would have been much more prepared for what we were getting into.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cheyanne. Yes, it's scary and it's draining, particularly with all the worrying. But you got through it, that's important.

      Delete
  43. Buddy just had TPLO surgery yesterday. Reading your blog really helps. I didn't think I would make it through first night. He cried most of the night even with pain meds. He is crated but I did away with the cone cause I am with him in same room. He doesn't do the towel walking very good either. He stood up in crate at 4am but I couldn't get him out by myself. Friend came over and helped but we never made it outside before he had to pee. Can I ask questions as needed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, ask questions as you need.

      Yes, the first days are hard. I am kind of surprised that they sent him home right away; with Jasmine, they kept her in the hospital for three days on a pain pump. Sounds to me the pain management isn't adequate, I'd talk to the surgeon about that.

      Jasmine didn't do really well with the towel walking either. We made a ramp for her instead, she took to that right away. I think you'll need to work on the towel walking a bit so he gets the idea.

      How do you mean you couldn't get him out by yourself?

      Delete
  44. Hi! I'm so glad I found this and I hope you can help!
    My 75lb lab/collie mix had the lateral suture repair surgery 8 weeks ago. The wound was having trouble healing so we had to keep going back to the vet to get it looked at, eventually needed staples in, then back for staples out, etc. Last week once it was finally healed, it started to swell. Brought him back in and his ligament capsule either tore or it didn't heal properly. So they opened him back up on Tuesday to repair that. He was walking okay on it when we brought him home and yesterday. Today, I was walking him in a leash to potty and he slipped through to chase a cat (can I tell you how much I hate cats?!). It ran up a fence and he jumped for it. When I finally got him back to me, he wouldn't put his leg down. Now, a few hours later, he still won't walk on it and it looks so swollen. I'm not sure what to do. Bringing him back and forth to the vet I feel is hurting him more than helping. I can't find any info on this, I'm hoping we aren't the only ones with so many issues. ��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a major mishap and injury to the repair site. Unfortunately, you do need to take him back to the vet.

      Delete
  45. What a helpful article. I am getting ready to schedule my German Shepherd and I wondered if the crate out where we are when we are home would be a problem since I have 2 other dogs and all three are very close.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whole idea is to make things as safe as possible, as well as as emotionally comfortable as possible. You need to find the balance. A crated dog will prefer companionship. So being where everybody else is is generally best emotionally.

      If the other dogs were to instigate some wild activity, though, than it wouldn't be safe. You don't mention how the dogs behave when together and whether they are able to just hang out and relax.

      It is best to place the dog where it will be safest, while happiest.

      Delete

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