It’s normal to see a dog limping after ACL surgery, especially in the first few days after surgery. While recovery times vary from dog to dog, it can take six to eight weeks for your dog to be back to normal after knee surgery. There’s no rush. The important thing is to work with your veterinarian in the weeks to come. The veterinarian will be able to access your dog’s progress and provide good quality care during the healing time.
This post will show you ways to manage your dog’s pain and recovery post-surgery.
What to Expect Right After Surgery
Advancements have been made to the type and amount of general anesthesia used in dogs. Most dogs leave the clinic fully awake and feeling great. Thanks to pre-and-post medication, there’s a very good chance your dog will make a quick recovery. However, there are a few things you should know in the meantime.
Week One – Post Surgery
The only exercise your dog should be getting in the week following surgery are short trips to the bathroom. You might want to help your dog navigate around while the weight-bearing leg is healing.
Dog Sling/Rehabilitation Harness
Dog slings are an inexpensive tool for helping your dog get up short flights of stairs or into a car. This is especially useful if your dog is too big to pick up on your own.
A few highly recommended favorites include these:
The veterinarian may want to have a look at your dog about one week after the surgery. He/she will probably check the incision site looking for any signs of infection. You may be asked about your dog’s appetite, range of motion, bathroom habits, and sleep.
Week Two – Post Surgery
The stitches come off during the second week, but it’s still important to keep your dog as calm as possible. Now’s not the time to invite house guests for the weekend. Keep your dog away from other animals as much as possible so that he/she can rest without getting overexcited.
Once again, the veterinarian may want to see your dog for follow-up. This might depend on the veterinarian and whether your dog is healing normally, or if the veterinarian suspects
Give Your Dog a Lift!
Some veterinarians suggest leashing your dog to your waist while you’re at home. That way, if there is a sudden noise or company at the door, your dog doesn’t have a chance to react with a lunge or a jump.
Best Dog Harness/Lead Ever
If you haven’t heard of the GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harness, please have a look. They’re more expensive than some of the slings on the market, but they’re also made with real consideration for you and your dog’s comfort.
Have a look at the option below.
Check Up Appointments Are a Must!
It’s important to maintain follow-up appointments after knee surgery in dogs, especially if your dog is on medication. Pain medications are meant to be temporary. The veterinarian will want to assess your dog’s progress, strength, appetite, sleep, bathroom habits, and may decide to adjust the medication dosage.
There will be check-up appointments after the first and second week post surgery. After that, you will need to bring your dog in at four, six, and eight weeks.
What The Surgical Site Should Look Like
You may see a little clear discharge tinged with blood for a few days after the surgery, but this is normal.
If the discharge changes color, there is redness around the site, or your notice a foul odor, your dog could have an infection. It’s important to know that with quality care, this is a rare occurrence.
Keep the Area Clean
It’s important to keep your dog from licking the site while keeping the area clean. Elizabethan collars are an uncomfortable necessity sometimes. Shortly after the surgery, you’ll want to keep your dog’s mouth away from the site. The veterinarian may have plastic cones for rent or purchase.
Top Recovery Option for Dogs with ACL Knee Surgery
Better options include large, soft rings that fit comfortably around your dog’s neck like the Goodboy Comfortable Recovery Collar.
A few collars that I would use on my dogs include the following:
The veterinarian might recommend a gentle, antibiotic swab. If using swabs like those in the gallery below, be very gentle. Do not overuse the product and use it in small dabbing motions around the surgical.
Why Do Dogs Get Torn ACL’s?
Torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), known as cranial cruciate ligaments in dogs (CCL) are common and account for about 85% of clinical cases.
Torn or ruptured CCL in dogs can be the result of intense play or exercise. Oftentimes, however, the ligament has weakened over time and would have torn or ruptured eventually.
Dogs, like people, can develop osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that wears away cartilage from the stifle joint (knee).
Sometimes there are no symptoms to alert the dog owner that anything is wrong. Most of the time, however, you will notice your dog is suddenly limping, has a hopping gait, or lifts the weight bearing leg.
As the cartilage wears away, the ligaments lose their integrity and weaken. The tear can happen very quickly after that. A normal day at the park or a game of ball can cause the sudden tear. Sudden stops and starts are often the cause.
Supplements for Joint Health
A lot can be said for supplementing your dog’s diet with formulas designed to control cartilage loss. Giving your dog supplements won’t guarantee a pain-free life, but they can go a long way if used properly.
The best time to start your dog on joint supplements is before he/she develops joint problems. However, it’s never too late. Always talk to the veterinarian about the best supplements for your dog. Older dogs especially have specific nutritional requirements. In addition, dogs who are on other medications may benefit from specific brands.