If your dog has a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), surgery may be on the horizon. A tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy (TPLO) surgery is one of the best ways to get your pooch back to his old self, but the procedure can be taxing. If you're preparing for or thinking about TPLO surgery and your worried about your dog's recovery, here are three things you can do to make him more comfortable in the weeks following the operation.
Adjust His Sleeping and Seating Areas
If, like many pet owners, you let your dog sit on your sofa with you or sleep in your bed, you'll need to make alternative sleeping and seating arrangements for him post-surgery. Jumping on and off of sofas and beds is a big no-no if you want the TPLO procedure to work.
Depending on your situation, you have a few options. The first and most obvious is to make your dog sit and sleep on a pet bed on the floor. Of course, this is easier said than done if your dog is eager to be in your company round-the-clock.
Alternatively, if you're willing, you can move your mattress and sofa cushions to the floor so the whole family can sit and sleep at a safe level for your pup. This solution may look unsightly and feel a little weird, but it'll make your dog happy.
If neither of the aforementioned options work for you, you can try purchasing a soft pet ramp that helps your dog climb on and off furniture safely. If you do go this route, make sure you spend some time training your dog how to use it to ensure he doesn't try to jump like he normally would.
Find Him Something to Do
A dog recovering from TPLO surgery needs to remain relatively sedentary in the first few weeks. Of course, for an active dog, this can be incredibly boring. A bored dog is a hard-to-control dog, so it's a good idea to find him something he can do that doesn't involve too much activity.
One of the best options is a hollow treat toy that you can stuff with your dog's favourite snack. As your dog has to work to get the food out, this type of toy can keep him busy for hours.
Some dogs also enjoy pet-safe plush toys to gently chew and tug on or 'brain-training' type toys that require puzzle solving in order to find treats. For dogs who are already less inclined to be active, lots of time spent sitting with them and petting them can be a great distraction.
Try a Different Collar
Some dogs hate the traditional 'cone of shame'—the Elizabethan collar (or e-collar). It can make them depressed, angry, and irritable. If this sounds like your dog, you may want to try a different type of post-surgery collar to increase his comfort.
There are numerous options on the market to choose from. Soft e-collars are like traditional e-collars, except they're made with softer plastic or fabric. Inflatable collars are another soft alternative, though it's important to note that soft collars are not suitable for determined chewer dogs. Other collars work by immobilising your dog's neck so he can navigate more easily but can't turn his head to chew at his wound. Some dogs do best without a collar at all, preferring a recovery sleeve placed over the leg that's been operated on.
Once you've found an option that you think your dog would like, make sure you talk to an experienced vet about it first. They can let you know if it's a realistic option for your dog, taking into account temperament, size, and other factors. Visit your local vet clinic to get more information.