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How to Rehab Your Dog From Home Following TTA or TPLO Surgery (Weeks 1 & 2)

Exercises for the first two weeks to increase mobility following your dog's tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) or tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery.

Home Therapy Instructions: For Two Weeks Post-Op

The goals for the first two weeks are to manage pain, limit the amount of swelling, increase flexibility in the knee joint, maintain flexibility in the hip or ankle joint, increase flexibility of the toes, decrease the amount of atrophy or muscle weakness, and improve use of the surgical limb at a slow walk.

Guidelines for Initial Home Care:

  1. No running, jumping, playing, or unsupervised activity for at least 12 weeks. Or until bone healing and implant stability are confirmed on radiographs by your surgeon.

  2. Assist your dog getting in and out of your vehicle.

  3. No stairs, if this is unavoidable use a towel as a sling to help support some of the weight.

  4. Keep your dog contained in a small room or section of a room to restrict activity. Make sure the footing is secure, such as carpet or non-slip mats/runners.

  5. Other than walks for exercises, your dog should be on a short leash to use the bathroom only.

  6. Cryotherapy; apply gel cold packs or bags of frozen peas or crushed ice to the inside and outside of the knee for 15-20 minutes 4-6 times a day. Put a thin damp cloth next to the skin and then cover the cold pack with a towel. Do this for at least the first two days, especially after walks.

Before you start with range of motion exercises, it can be helpful to first begin with some gentle massaging of the muscles surrounding/supporting the knee and hind limbs, which can help with any spasm or soreness and helps relax the leg for the exercises.

Exercises: Perform each exercise 10-15 times, 2-3 times a day.

  1. Toe Extensions: Put your hands on the bottom of your dogs foot, then bring the toes into extension and hold. Then relax and repeat.

  2. Knee Flexion and Extension: Support the knee with one hand, then place your other hand at the ankle or hoc. Then gently bend the knee, then straighten. Try to get as straight as you possibly can and be patient with your dog. Make sure you are just guiding the ankle and not pulling.

  3. Hip Extension: Bring the dog's hip as far back as possible and then hold. If you feel your dog relax, you can try to go a bit further.

  4. Weight Shifting: Have your dog stand in front of you, with feet aligned under foot. Then shift his/her weight onto the surgical side and then back. You're looking for the paw of the surgical limb to spread and flatten to indicate it is weight-baring. One way to get your dog to shift weight to the surgical side is to pick up the opposite front limb, hold it for a couple seconds, and then put it down.

  5. Cookie Stretch: Hold a cookie in your hand and encourage a dog to look up and down, with an emphasis on up. And then go back and forth, with an emphasis on movement to the surgical side.

You can use treats to lure your dog into position and reward your dog for good performance.

And finally, when walking be sure to go slowly enough so the dog can put the surgical limb down.

Thanks for reading and watching! Stay tuned for future posts!

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