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Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Surgery for Dogs

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Surgery for Dogs

Are you considering TPLO (Tibial PLateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery for your pup? Here, our Plains vets explain what this procedure involves and what to expect as your dog recovers. 

What is TPLO Surgery?

If your pup has torn their CCL (the cranial cruciate ligament, similar to humans' ACL), you may want to consider TBLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy). This common orthopedic procedure is a quite effective long-term solution for addressing this injury. Its popularity is primarily due to its quick recovery time and positive results.

After undergoing this procedure, the dynamics of your pup's knee will be altered so their injured ligament isn't required at all. Since dogs' knees are constantly bent, they take on tension and load constantly, leaving them open vulnerable to injury. This means that a torn cranial cruciate ligament is the most common orthopedic injury found in dogs.

For a dog, a torn CCL is very painful since the femur will rub against the back of the tibia, causing discomfort and inflammation. Chances are, your dog will not be eager or able to put any weight on the injured leg.


During the surgery, the bone will be cut so the tibial plateau can be rotated where the tibia and femur work together. Part of the tibia will be removed and repositioned, so the femur won’t be able to slide backward. Most importantly, this procedure stabilizes the knee.

The CCL ligament is no longer needed after this procedure and your pup will have renewed use of a stable joint. If considering 

The CCL ligament is no longer needed, and your dog will have use of the stable joint again. If you are considering TPLO surgery, here are some factors to weigh. Think of your dog’s:

  • Age
  • Weight and size
  • Health (does he or she have any joint problems or diseases?)
  • Activity level (Extremely active? Calm? In between?)
  • Post-surgery care and recovery

TPLO Surgery Recovery for Dogs: What to Do & What to Avoid

While every dog will be different, the first 12 weeks after TPLO surgery are a critical period. Full recovery may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. Recovery time may partly depend on your dog’s size, age and breed.

Although a bone graft will be secured by screws and plates, your dog will require time to heal from their surgery. While they recover, you should:

  • Allow the anesthesia time to wear off.
  • Pay close attention to the areas around their surgical incisions. Make sure to clean cover and protect them.
  • Restrict their physical activity to allow their bones time to heal. Make sure, however, that you follow any exercise routines set out by your vet.

Remember that preventing infection and restricting physical activity during your dog’s recovery period are vital to their health at this time. Dogs tend to heal quickly (or think they are healing quickly!) and want to get back to physical activity. However, he could be raring to go before his body is fully recovered.

While on-leash walks for a few minutes at a time may be advised, make sure that you avoid any high-intensity workouts such a splaying, running or jumping. You should even make sure your pup avoids steep stairs. 

Though you can likely leave your dog unattended during the day to go to work or school, he or she will still require bathroom breaks and exercise to prevent stiffness.

Avoid leaving your dog alone around other animals or dogs for any length of time. A dog jumping on your pup after their TPLO surgery may cause significant injury and setbacks in their recovery.

By the eighth week, if recovery has progressed sufficiently, the vet may be able to remove the stitches.

Potential Complications & What to Do

Although there are generally no complications

Though there are typically no complications involved with recovery from TPLO surgery, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian upon noticing any of these symptoms:

  • Missing staples in stitches
  • Refusing to put any weight on recovering leg
  • Inflammation or infection at the incision site
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to pain medications
  • Widely varying eating and drinking habits
  • Constipation due to medication, healing or change in activity

If your dog is showing any of these signs or symptoms, your vet will be a valuable resource. They may be able to diagnose the problem and recommend effective solutions

In a similar manner to people recovering from an operation, your pup will require activity as well. As they recover, your dog will appreciate some extra attention and toys to help them stay comfortable and happy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect that your dog may have torn their CCL? Contact Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital today. Our qualified team of veterinarians is able to diagnose conditions, diseases and injuries affecting your pet's joints. 

From Happy Pet Owners

  • My puppy thought it was fun to eat a sock so we had to take him here. Everyone was amazingly kind and I could tell they actually care about animals. They brought him to the back immediately for treatment and then afterwards explained to us what they did and what to expect. The doctor was wonderful and she seemed very knowledgeable. She answered any and all of our questions. I’m comforted with knowing this type of care is available if I need their services again in the future.

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