If your pup was born with a deformity or sustains and injury to one of their legs, they may end up needing a surgical procedure to treat or correct the issue. Today, our Rancho Cucamonga vets talk about the different types of orthopedic surgery, when they may be used and how to care for your pup while they recover.
What is pet orthopedic surgery?
Orthopedic surgery is the most effective procedure for repairing a damaged bone or joint and restoring the patient's health. The recovery process after orthopedic surgery in dogs can be long and requires rehabilitative therapies.
The conditions that can be treated using orthopedic surgery are usually caused by injury or genetic deformities. The dog will be referred to a veterinary specialist who is trained and equipped with the necessary tools.
The Different Types of Orthopedic Surgery
When a dog suffers from an injury or condition that affects a joint or limb they may end up needing orthopedic surgery to treat the issue. Orthopedic surgery is the use of surgical procedures to restore a canine limb to normal or near-normal function. Bone plates, pins or screws, nylon, casts, or an artificial joint are normally used. While helpful, orthopedic surgery will only be recommended if your dog is healthy and not suffering from an underlying condition that could affect the success of the surgery. The veterinary surgeon will perform complete diagnostics and a pre-surgery examination to ensure that the surgery can be safely performed on your pup.
The most commonly used types of orthopedic surgery for dogs are:
TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy): TPLO surgery has become one of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgeries on dogs who have torn their cranial cruciate ligament, also known as the dog ACL.
MPL (Medial Patellar Luxation): MPL is used to correct 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): THR is a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of the diseased cartilage and bone of the hip joint. These are then replaced with a prosthesis or 'artificial joint'.
Lateral Suture: This is used to stabilize the knee on the outside of the joint by using a single fiber plastic line called a mono-filament. This very strong suture or line outside of the joint re-establishes the stability the joint needs when the ACL is torn.
TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement): This surgical procedure is used to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (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 Surgery: Helps to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (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 approximately 85% of all orthopedic surgeries performed each year.
How to Care For Your Dog After Orthopedic Surgery
There are a number of ways that you can help right after your dog comes out of orthopedic surgery and throughout their recovery. This includes:
Checking on Their Stitches
Your dog's stitches are either going to be internal or external. Internal stitches dissolve after a period of time and do not need to be removed. If your dog or cat surgeon uses outside stitches or staples they will typically need to be removed by your vet around 10 - 14 days after surgery. Your vet will let you know which type of stitches were used to close your pet's incision.
Keeping the Incision Clean
One of the toughest parts of caring for your dog after surgery is stopping them from chewing or scratching their bandages. One effective solution is a plastic cone-shaped Elizabethan collar (e-collar), which comes in hard and softer versions. This collar effectively stops your dog from licking its wound.
While most dogs adapt to wearing a cone collar fairly quickly, some may have difficulties adjusting. In such cases, you can explore alternative options that are recommended by your vet. These options include donut-style collars or post-op medical pet shirts, which are effective and less bulky alternatives.
Ensure Bandages Stay Dry
Keeping your pup's bandages clean will help to prevent complications. When your dog goes outside, remember to cover the bandages with a plastic bag or cling wrap to shield them from the damp grass.
As soon as your pet comes back inside, remove the plastic covering from the bandage. Leaving the plastic over the bandage can cause sweat to accumulate and result in an infection.
Attend the Follow-Up Visit
The checkup appointments that are scheduled for your pup are to ensure that there are no complications through recovery and that your dog is healing well.
Your vet will also change your dog's bandages at this time. Not changing the bandages on a regular basis could lead to pressure sores or even affect the blood supply to the area. The veterinary team at our animal hospital has been trained in dressing wounds correctly. Bringing your dog in for a follow-up appointment allows your team of veterinary to change your pet's bandages properly to help keep your dog's healing process on track.
Preventing the Need For Veterinary Orthopedics
Genetic conditions and sudden injuries are the most common causes behind the need for orthopedic surgery which makes ongoing preventive care a crucial step in protecting your dog's bones.
By taking basic steps toward safety such as using a leash when outside of the home, you can help decrease the risk of bone breaks. The only way to prevent hereditary or congenital causes is to stop all reproductive practices in canines known to have the condition(s). Spaying and neutering is the most effective form of treatment for canines with hereditary joint complications, such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
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.