Dogs have what is known as the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). It is comparable to a human's ACL and helps the knee function correctly. It is also one of the most likely places for traumatic injury in our canine companions. TPLO surgery can help dogs who need it, and today, our Laguna Woods vet will discuss why your dog might need TPLO surgery.
What is TPLO surgery?
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is a surgical procedure used to stabilize the stifle joint after a ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL). The CCL is similar to the ACL in a human knee, but unlike in humans, the CCL rarely ruptures from sudden trauma in an otherwise healthy ligament. The only way to permanently "fix" the instability and relieve the pain caused by the rupture is through surgery.
The TPLO surgery entails cutting the top of the tibia (the bone beneath the knee), rotating it, and stabilizing it in a new position with a bone plate and screws. These modifications affect the dynamic movement of the bones in the knee and compensate for the loss of the CrCL. It has been shown to have consistent positive results even in large, athletic dogs, and the dog will likely be able to live an active life after surgery.
Why would my dog need TPLO surgery?
A dog with a torn CCL joint cannot walk normally, and the instability caused by the tear damages the bone and cartilage surrounding the joint. Plus, it's very painful!
Here are some common signs that your dog might be suffering from a CCL injury.
Your Dog Doesn't Put Their Full Weight on the Leg
When your dog walks or stands still, not putting full weight on a leg can be visible. You'll notice it when you're out walking your dog. However, when they are standing, their toes may barely touch the ground. This is a sign that they are in pain or have weakness in their leg, and you may need to look into dog ACL surgery options as a result.
Your Dog Limps Sometimes
Dogs can limp for a variety of reasons. They could have something stuck on their paw, or they could have a cut or scrape that is causing them to walk differently. For a few days and weeks, keep an eye on your dog's walking and make note of any differences. ACL tears in dogs can develop slowly, so it's important to monitor them over time to see if TPLO surgery is required.
Your Dog Sits Awkwardly
If your dog has an ACL injury, it may sit with one leg out to the side instead of both legs under them. This is one of the most obvious signs that TPLO surgery is required. It indicates that they are experiencing pain in their leg and should be examined.
What are some other signs my dog might need TPLO surgery?
Other than the most common signs noted above, some other common signs your dog may be suffering a CCL injury include:
- Reduced activity and unwillingness to play
- Having difficulty rising or jumping
- Pain and stiffness in the hindquarters
- Reduced range of motion
- Muscle atrophy in the affected leg
- Swelling on the inside of the shin bone or a popping noise
Age, obesity, poor conformation (structure), breed, and a lack of fitness are all risk factors for CCL tears. While the disease can affect any size, breed, or age of dog, it has been discovered that Newfoundlands and Labrador Retrievers have a genetic component. Akitas, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, and Staffordshire Terriers are also at a higher risk. Cats are almost never affected.
What should I do if I notice signs?
When your dog requires TPLO surgery, it is often obvious. When you notice these signs, it's critical to take note of and document everything your dog has done in the last few weeks. These habits can assist a veterinarian in accurately diagnosing the problem and properly presenting you with dog ACL surgery options.
Of course, if your dog appears to be in a lot of pain, you should take him to the vet right away. And after receiving treatment, your dog should be back to being a happy and healthy pooch.