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Orthopedic Surgery in Dogs

If your dog has been showing leg pain whenever they move around, they may have an orthopedic condition. These issues are commonly treated with surgery. Here, our Bellevue vets discuss orthopedic surgery in dogs, including the different types and what you can expect during the recovery process.

What is orthopedic surgery in dogs?

Orthopedic surgery is any procedure involving bones, joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments or cartilage. It aims to treat conditions affecting your dog's skeletal system while improving their quality of life by easing pain, restoring function and improving range of motion.

What can orthopedic surgery treat in dogs?

Orthopedic surgery is commonly used for dogs who have broken or fractured a bone due to trauma or have a congenital condition affecting the joint. Your dog may be referred to a veterinarian or orthopedic surgeon who is trained and equipped with the necessary tools.

What are the different types of orthopedic surgery for dogs?

Generally, orthopedic surgery uses bone plates, pins or screws, nylon, casts, or an artificial joint to treat the affected area. In good health, dogs are excellent candidates for orthopedic procedures such as bone and joint correction surgery. A successful surgery necessitates pre-operative blood work and an overall examination.

Some of the different types of orthopedic surgeries are:

TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy): This surgery has become one of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgeries on dogs who have torn their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), also known as the dog ACL.

MPL (medial patellar luxation): This procedure corrects the luxation, or 'popping out' of the kneecap (called the patella). A luxating patella is caused by a congenital malformation that causes abnormal forces on the kneecap, causing it to slide out of its normal groove (called the patellar groove).

FHO (femoral head osteotomy): This is the surgical removal of the femoral head and neck. In layman's terms, it is the removal of the 'ball' portion of the ball-and-socket joint that comprises the hip joint.

THR (total hip replacement): This is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the diseased cartilage and bone of the hip joint. These are then replaced with a prosthesis or 'artificial joint'.

Lateral Suture: The concept for the surgery is very simple. To stabilize the knee on the outside of the joint by using a single-fiber plastic line called a monofilament. This strong suture or line outside of the joint re-establishes the stability needed when the ACL is torn.

TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement): This is a surgical procedure used to repair a torn CCL. Unlike other procedures, the goal of this surgery is not to recreate or repair the ligament, but rather to change the dynamics of the knee so that the cranial cruciate ligament is no longer required for joint stability.

Cruciate: Cruciate surgery is used to repair a torn CCL in the stifle (knee), which functions similarly to the ACL in humans. CCL surgery is the most common orthopedic surgery performed in dogs, accounting for most of these types of surgeries performed each year.

What can you expect during your dog's recovery from orthopedic surgery?

After your dog has had orthopedic surgery, there will be a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation period. They will have exercise restrictions for at least the first two weeks. Following these two weeks, activity will be limited to four months, and physical therapy may be advised.

Some of the key ways that you can help your dog during their recovery include:

  • Following your vet's post-operative instructions
  • Managing your pet's pain
  • Keeping your dog or cat comfortable
  • Restricting your pet's movement to prevent complications
  • Caring for the incision site

How long does it take for a dog to recover after orthopedic surgery?

The length of time it takes for your pup to recover from orthopedic surgery will depend on several factors, including the type of surgery, your dog's age, general health and rehabilitation needs. 

Many orthopedic surgeries will largely heal about two or three months after the procedure. However, it can take up to six months for your dog to fully recover. 

Is there any way to prevent orthopedic conditions that require surgery?

Many causes of bone issues are related to unexpected injury or hereditary joint conditions, so preventing the need for orthopedic surgery is important for pet owners.

Basic canine safety precautions, such as providing a fenced-in yard and using a leash outside the home, are critical to avoiding fractures or bone breaks. The only way to prevent hereditary or congenital causes is to halt all reproductive practices in canines affected by these conditions). Canines with hereditary joint complications, such as hip or elbow dysplasia, benefit most from spaying and neutering.

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.

Does your dog seem to be experiencing pain as they move around? Contact our Bellevue vets today to schedule an examination.

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At Aerowood Animal Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health of companion animals in the Bellevue area and can't wait to welcome you and your pet to our veterinary family.

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