Postoperative Care

These are general recommendations after this surgery. You will receive more specific recommendations for your pet in their “discharge instructions” provided to you.

Important note on diet: Please feed a high-quality balanced dog food during the healing period.

The following recommendations for exercise will act as a guide for you as you bring your dog back to comfort.

Time Since Surgery & Recommendation

Before 2 weeks: Strict confinement

  • Very short leash walks to “toilet” only
  • Gentle massage of the lower leg and icing the leg may assist in reducing pain and swelling – use a cold pack or frozen bag of peas. Remember to keep the dressing and wound dry by using a dry towel or similar interposed between the pack and the dressing/skin.
  • Passively gently flexing and extending the limb may be useful in some dogs
  • Return to us for dressing and suture removal with check-up at 12 to 14 days post op

2 to 4 weeks: Strict confinement

  • Leash walks as above, with some longer walks around garden only
  • Aim for a number of these short walks per day

4 to 7 weeks: Strict confinement when not on a leash

  • Longer leash walks can commence inside or outside your property, in those dogs progressing very well. If your dog is showing a moderate lameness, continue with short frequent walks inside your property. It is far better to err on the side of caution than push your pet too quickly at this stage. How far you are walking at this stage will depend very much on how comfortable your own dog is. Some dogs will need to progress very slowly. If uncertain, start the week with a very gentle 3 minute walk 2 to 3 times a day. Increase this by a few minutes after one week. By the end of 7 weeks postop, some dogs regaining comfort and strength rapidly may be able to walk for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day, others will not be up to this level and should not be allowed to walk this far. Always tailor the walking to your individual dog. You are overdoing it if your dog becomes tired or sore or lame by the end of the walk. Do not push your dog past a level at which they feel comfortable. If your dog is coping very well, try and do more sessions of walking per day, rather than increasing the length of the walks too much at this time. You should still avoid any sudden rough activity (jumping, running, other dogs etc)

6 to 8 weeks:

  • Return to us for a drop off in the morning, an Xray and evaluation of the joint. A recheck x-ray of the leg is very advantageous to see if the bone has healed solidly and evaluate some of the periarticular soft tissues. This will be a visit for the day. (Please note the cost of this procedure is not included in the initial surgical costs).

2 to 3 months:

  • If the go-ahead has been given for more exercise;
    You may be able to build the length of the leash-walks up by 5 minutes a week to reach (depending on your own dog’s progress) 30 to 60 minutes one or more times a day as long as the longer walks are tolerated well, with no exacerbation of lameness.

3 months onwards:

  • If all has been going well, free activity off the leash may be allowed.

Remember, these recommendations are just that, recommendations. Your own dog may progress more quickly or more slowly than this. The largest dogs have the most stress on their joints and need longer in the final rehabilitation stages. Always call us if you are unsure how you should be progressing with your own dog. Some dogs may require physiotherapy or care under a therapist trained in rehabilitation techniques. Some may need careful use of pain killers or anti-arthritic agents to aid their recovery. Finally, remember that your local, primary care veterinarian plays a vital role in assisting your pet’s recovery, particularly over the longer term.