TPLO Surgery For Dogs That Have A Torn ACL

Last month, on a warm sunny day, Jim & I had just returned home from a trip to Canada.

We picked up our dog at the pet sitters, then we all played at home in the backyard together. Tenor was soooo happy to see us. It had been a week — about the longest he’d been away from us.

Suddenly, he got this urge to just start running… HARD!

Tenor was running laps from corner to corner — the entire perimeter of our fence line. When all of a sudden, as he was running and turning the corner, he yelped and fell down. His knee gave out. That was the start of Tenor’s 3-legged mobility.


Our Dog Tore His ACL

We immediately called our vet, who said to put him on the Deramaxx pain killers we had leftover from the last time he pulled his leg muscle.  If it continued for more than a week, he wanted us to bring Tenor in for x-rays.

It continued. The meds didn’t help much. Tenor wouldn’t put any weight on that back right leg at all. When we took him to the vet for x-rays, it was obvious that he’d torn his ACL.

tenor-dog-hip-and-knee-xray.jpg  tenor-dog-leg-and-knee-xray.jpg

Here’s a great explanation: What Is An ACL?


In people, injury to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is usually a traumatic injury. You know, the tennis ball goes one direction and your knee goes the other. In dogs, ACL injury is usually a degenerative injury. The difference is subtle but important. In people, the ligament is often normal and is injured by the trauma. In dogs, the ligament is abnormal, and although the lameness is often proceeded by a perceived trauma, most often this ligament was going to pop sooner or later. The implication of this distinction is that the other ligament is often bad as well. So dogs with an injury to one ACL are at a much higher risk of tearing the ligament in the other knee.  Source


The vet said Tenor had about an inch or so of free-range motion in that knee — in a direction that he was supposed to have NONE. (More proof that the ligament was torn.)

dr-sam-beckman-dvm.jpgSo we scheduled our initial pre-op visit with the veterinary surgeon who comes highly recommended in these parts: Dr. Samuel Beckman with Affiliated Veterinary Specialists (now Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners) here in Nashville. (They’re also the doctors associated with the after-hours emergency care center.)

darrell-waltrip-and-other-celebs-on-vet-wall.jpg  randy-travis-rascall-flatts-billy-ray-cyrus-dog-vet.jpg


So we took our vet’s x-rays to the surgeon (Dr. Beckman), who also did a visual exam of Tenor and agreed the TPLO surgery was necessary.

By the way, while examining Tenor’s x-rays (one set included his hips), Dr. Beckman said that Tenor will never have a problem with his hips — they look REALLY good. Whew! some good news for a change! A hip problem is one thing you always wonder about dogs — especially large dogs.

Dr. Beckman also spent a good deal of time explaining to us the parts of a dog’s knee, how the knee and ACL work in dogs — including ways that they’re similar and ways that they’re different from a human’s ACL and a human’s knee, the options for this type of injury, and what to expect in terms of the surgery and recuperation period.



How Much Does TPLO Surgery Cost?

I’ve heard that dog TPLO surgery can run anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000.

In fact, Trupa
nion Pet Insurance puts the average cost at $5,439 for a Cruciate Ligament Tear, which covers surgery to repair a torn right hind ACL and any post-op complications.

We were given a ballpark figure ranging from $2,647 to $2,806 for the surgery & meds. (The variation was based on how much medication Tenor would ultimately need.)

In the end, we walked out with a bill of $2,541. Tenor didn’t need much medication. And he didn’t have any post-op complications.

For the record, we had to pay 80% up front (on a credit card) before the surgery even took place. They don’t take any chances with non-paid bills for high-dollar surgeries these days. Which I completely understand. (And no, we didn’t have pet insurance.)

The bigger parts of the itemized TPLO surgery included:

  • Anesthesia (Tenor weighs 75 lbs) $375

  • ACL repair – TPLO on a large dog $650 (this was the cost for the labor alone)

  • ACL parts – 1 metal plate $210 and 6 screws $126

  • 2-night stay requiring 24-hour nursing care, level 3 $156

  • 2-night hospitalization standard (walks & feeding?) $50

  • X-rays (yes, even though our vet had taken x-rays, the surgeon required his own set of x-rays as well — one set prior to surgery and another set immediately after surgery. AND we have to go back in 6 months for a follow-up visit to make sure everything is healing properly, which is where he’ll compare with the earlier sets) $196

The remaining balance included all of the many meds, bloodwork, IV’s, surgical prep, operating room, bandages, e-collar etc.

dr-sam-beckman-tenor-dog.jpg  nurse-amy-bringing-tenor-with-ecollar.jpg

Tenor’s surgery took place exactly one month to the day that he tore his ACL running in our backyard. (He is 7 days post-op as I write this.)

By the way, we consulted with 3 separate veterinarians prior to scheduling the surgery, regarding whether or not there were other options instead of the TPLO surgery to repair Tenor’s knee. But, because he’s such a large dog, each recommended the surgery.  And each told us the going rate was between $2,500 and $3,000 for TPLO surgery. (Other reports support this figure.)

What if you cannot afford the surgery for your dog?


TPLO Surgery For Dogs With Torn ACLs

bone-screws-dog-tplo.jpgHere are some of the interesting things I learned about a dog’s ACL and TPLO surgery:

Dr. Beckman said that TPLO surgeries are incredibly common in most full-breed Labradors, though a mixed-breed Labrador generally doesn’t have as high chances of inheriting the weak ACL as full-breed Labs do. Tenor was the exception to this rule. (He’s part Labrador Retriever, part Great Pyrenees.)


dr-sam-beckman-tenor-dog-with-ecollar.jpg Dr. Beckman does roughly 100 TPLO surgeries on dogs each year. He did 2 others on the same day he did Tenor’s.


When a dog tears his ACL, basically you can either do nothing or have the surgery. There’s not a lot of middle ground with things you can try along the way. Of course, you’ll have your dog owners who swear by natural medicine and holistic care, including vitamins, natural foods, and supplements — which may work for some. But for the most part, the larger the dog, the more the TPLO surgery is pretty much the only way to go.


I was told (by all 3 veterinarians we met with) that it’s not as imperative as you might think to rush a dog into surgery right after you notice the limp from a torn ACL. It won’t "heal wrong" or anything. And dogs (including Tenor) can function quite well on 3 legs in the meantime. The biggest difference is… the longer you wait to have the surgery, the more pronounced the arthritis will likely be as your dog ages. Arthritis in dogs who’ve had torn ACLs is pretty much inevitable. It’s just the degree to which that arthritis sets in that differs in dogs — and it’s based on a whole host of other factors (including diet, activity level, overall health, etc.)


Dr. Beckman said the bad news is… when a dog tears his ACL in one leg, 30% of dogs will tear the ACL in the other leg at some later date, as well. (I’ve actually read this stat could be as high as 50%.)

Greater than 90% of dogs enjoy a seemingly pain-free and limp-free quality of life.  It is important to understand that the knee cannot be returned to a 100% return to function.  In addition 30-40% dogs that rupture one knee, will have the opposite knee rupture, often times within the next 12-18 months. Source


I asked about the "fishing line surgery" that I’d seen on the Internet (in the video below). All 3 veterinarians agreed that type of surgery works better on smaller dogs; larger dogs are just likely to tear that as well. Or, our surgeon added, if a dog is older and/or less active, and money is an issue, then that might be a viable option. (Tenor is a 2-year-old puppy with lots of energy.)



Basically, for TPLO surgery on a dog, they separate the bones, remove the ruptured ligament, and screw the bones together with a metal plate that enable the knee to bend properly. In veterinary medicine throughout the years, the size and shape of that metal plate has changed a bit in order to accommodate what they’ve learned about the way dogs use their knees and how their range of motion is slightly different than humans. Plus, they use a smaller metal plate for small dogs and a larger plate for large dogs.


dog-sitting-2-days-after-tplo-surgery.jpg I asked Dr. Beckman about glucosimine and condroiton supplements, and whether I should be giving them to our Tenor to build up the fluids and strength of the joints. He said that was a great question. (Why, thank you!) Basically, he said there’s a ton of research that shows glucosimine and condroiton (both, the human versions and dog versions) are perfectly safe for dogs. What has not been proven however, is their degree of effectiveness with dogs. He said some of his patients seem to do well on those supplements; others show no improvements. He recommended that I talk to my regular vet about it, because a regular vet specializes in long-term care for dogs (whereas he specializes in short-term emergency care for pets).


Tenor’s stitches are self-dissolving, so there are no stitches to remove. But Dr. Beckman still likes to check the dog’s progress at 2-3 weeks post-op. Then again at the 6-month mark to make sure things have healed properly internally (thus, another set of x-rays).


He said it is rare that a dog will also tear the cartilage in the knee at the same time he tears the ACL (1 in 100), but our dog tore the cartilage in his knee at the same time. That just meant that Dr. Beckman had to remove that broken piece of cartilage while he was in there doing the surgery.


conehead-dog-tenor-in-jeep.jpg  dog-with-ecollar-in-jeep.jpg


Stay tuned… tomorrow I’ll post photos and details of Tenor’s recovery from TPLO surgery!

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusFlickr

  • manny

    Hello Tracey.. My Pit Bull Dallas just came home yesterday. She had TPLO surgery and i hope her recovery is as good as i read on these posts. I wish i would have seen a few more doctors to get 2nd-3rd opinions but i will do that next time. The doctor said Dallas may need surgery on the other leg. I felt so rushed to get things taken care of. I could stand seeing her in pain so my wife and i went with the Dr. our vet suggested. The total cost was $4066.. it drives me crazy to read from some how this is a very profitable procedure for the doctors. I wish the care of someones pet is top priority and not the prfit from the surgery. Either way i needed to do somehting. $2400, $4400, or higher… i was willing to pay to make sure Dallas was ok.
    I hope your dog has had a great recovery

  • Anonymous

    I have a 34 month old female Akita (Malibu) who is, as I type, in her second TPLO surgery. She had her first one July of 2008 when she was just over 1 and she recovered amazingly. She slipped in August of 2009 and has been doing the “toe touch” since. We did rest her time and time again to the point where she would be good and then she would turn the wrong way while chasing the Pom (Boone) and we would be back at square one. We opted to have the surgery done now so she is healed by summer and ready to go. At the rate that she is going, with no exercise, she is not as healthy as she could or should be. She tips the scales right now at 120lbs and could definitely stand to loose a good 10 to 15 of them.

    It is a very expensive surgery to have. We are from Alberta, Canada and the first surgery that she had was in Calgary which cost us $4000.00 +. I did some research and I am sitting in Great Falls Montana where her surgery will cost me half that. $2100.00 I call her my “Million Dollar Dog”. She is worth every penny of it and I can’t wait to see her run like she should be able to. I hope she recovers from this one as flawlessly as she did the last one.


    6 weeks after Malibu’s surgery she is doing amazingly. Walks without a limp and is healing up at over 85% already. 6 more weeks of “recovery” to go and she should be back to wonderful! She goes for walks everyday and each day is a little farther. She tires out quite quickly as she hadn’t used her leg or gone for walks for 5 months. The weight is coming off of her and her energy level is way up! She is going to be able to be a real dog again in no time and go out and play and run like she should!!! YAY!!!

  • Anonymous

    Your information about Tenor was extremely helpful. Our 8 month old lab, Cooper, caught his right front leg in the recliner 3 days ago. Unfortunately, he broke his leg in 2 places. He had surgery the following day and we picked him up the next day (yesterday). It has been extremely difficult thus far in his care (and I am an RN). I am so afraid he’s going to redamage the leg. Thank you again for sharing your story

  • Nita

    Just came back from the vet where our 1yr old rottie was diagnosed with not one torn acl but both. She will need surgery on both knees.My heart hurts for her and what she must be feeling. Thanks for all the information on the pre and post surgery experience. I now know what is to be expected.

  • Pittsburgh

    Thank you so much for posting this. Our 6-year old Germ Shep/Black Lab mix just tore his knee the other day and everything you have said here is exactly (exactly!) what we were told. You have made it more real and promising that what I have been imagining. I’m glad your pup’s doing well, and the surgery went well. Best of luck!

  • Liz Strand

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! After scheduling my cocker spaniel’s surgery, I’ve seen a few things saying dogs don’t usually need the surgery (even big dogs) and then heard nightmares about the recovery. After stumbling on this, I am feeling much, much better. It’s been nearly 2 months, and she’s gotten worse, not better. She had another issue in a front leg 2 wks earlier that went away with a few days of Deramaxx, so I had assumed that’s what it was until it wasn’t better after 10+ days. Then the vet I saw just had us keep giving her that for awhile. I took her to a different vet the next time, who gave the diagnosis of a (partially) torn CCL/ACL.

    Anyway, I was beginning to think I needed to just cancel the surgery, but after reading all of this, I feel much better about the whole process! It matches what my vet said, and what a few other vets have said who have no financial stake in it (friends of my sister & friends of a friend). I will continue to reference this as she goes through the procedure, and hopefully will have some positives & info to share with other people too!

    • FunTimesGuide

      Liz – I’m so glad you’ve found our experience with the TPLO surgery helpful and that it could bring you some peace of mind about your decision. Keep us posted on how your dog’s surgery goes :-D

  • Amanda

    Well Lilly our 4 year old Lab who had TPLO this time last year on her right leg just got home from her second TPLO on her left leg. She looks a lot better this time around and I guess maybe I am not as scared. She is not putting the leg down as much as she did last time. I will update on her recovery later but for now we are doing well. I hope everyone else is doing okay.

    • Amanda

      We are on Day 12 of being home. Lilly has just not started noticing her incision and wanting to lick it. We have ALL done much this time around. She goes Thursday to have her staples removed and for her first Hydro Physical Therapy. Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers. Ours are going out to all of you going through this.

  • Anonymous

    My rottweiler Dakota had her left leg done in May of ’09 and she is currently not putting down her right leg… :( I have not been to the vet just yet because I think I am afraid to hear the inevitable. I had a REALLY hard time with the first surgery from the cone to crating her and the sedatives. I was a mess everyday. We are moving in August, do you think she will be ok with rest until we get settled and can get her to a vet in our new home town?

    • FunTimesGuide

      dakotakel – I don’t know for sure how it goes when it’s the dog’s 2nd leg that goes bad, but I’m guessing it would be similar as with the first. Based on that, I can tell you that when my dog wouldn’t put weight on his leg before his 1st & only surgery, our vet said we could go MONTHS without surgery — it was our choice — because it couldn’t get “worse” or become more of a problem than it already was. He said our dog simply would continue to not put any weight on that leg (and he got around quite well actually) until after the surgery. The vet made it sound like we shouldn’t feel guilty if we couldn’t do the surgery right away for some reason. (We did. But he said it was okay, if we didn’t.)
      Perhaps that will help to reassure you a bit…

    • Kjd2121

      Oh nice. How would you like to have that much pain in your leg. You could at least get over your issues and take proper care of the dog. Your dog needs to see a vet for at least some pain meds. Let me kick you in the knee and see how long you can last with the pain. You piss me off.

  • Eva Oliveira

    My 11 year old Alaskan Malamute tore his ACL three months ago and I have been struggling with what I should do. He is obviously old, he weighs 135 pounds, and I live in a house that has 20 stairs. The doctor told me the surgery would cost $5,000!! He has been doing okay with the bad leg, until recently. The last couple of days he has been in a lot of pain and will not put his leg down. He drags his foot when he walks. I feel real bad and I don’t know what to do. Should I do the surgery? He is old, but full of life. If it wasn’t for his knee, he would be running around. He was in great shape until this happened. The recovery after the surgery is going to be very difficult. My dog likes to chase after cars and the newspaper man and certain dogs and he forgets that he has a bad leg and I think he made it worse because he was probably chasing something again. I think that if I do the surgery, he will just reinjure himself again. Help!

  • stoli

    OMG! Tenor looks just like my dog Jack!

  • Jdockery

    Our seven year old, 110lb bloodhound, Flash, had TPLO surgery two years ago on his right leg and the left one went out today. I am calling tomorrow to schedule the surgery for his left leg. We did the TPLO surgery for the right leg and you would never know he had surgery on it. They told me that the key is to keep him off of his feet and for him to rest it for 10-12 weeks. The recovery was the hardest part, for him and for me, he likes to be right by my side all of the time, but had to be in a small area to prevent him from re-injuring himself. Your story is exactly what happened with Flash both times. Took off running, then “Yelp!” He has been on Glucosamine for quite some time now and they advised us that it would help with the athritis after the TPLO as well. I know that he will soon be chasing squirrels and tennis balls again.

  • Anonymous

    Well I’m back. Mikie, our catahoula/lab mix, had his first TPLO back in the winter of 2007 I think. It was after a freak snowfall here in SE Louisiana and he was tearing up and down the fence line with his buddies next door when he evidently slipped. We couldn’t have been happier with the results. Today Mikie had his second TPLO, done by the same vet, and we will get to pick him up tomorrow. What we initially thought was just arthritis didn’t get any better when the weather warmed up which led us back to the vet. At least this time the rehab will be easier for us as I am now retired and will be able to look after him all day. Can’t wait for the next 3 months to be over so he will be back to normal.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Wow, 3-1/2 years huh? That’s how long until the other leg went out… Lots of dog owners have been asking how long until you feel you’re “in the clear” and the other leg won’t need surgery. I’ve always said that you never REALLY know. But it’s good to hear how long it was for a fellow TPLO dog here. Since you’ve been through it once, I’m sure it will be easier and he will heal even faster because of what you know now. Give him a big hug from all of us! Thanks so much for the update :-D

  • Anonymous

    Let’s see. Six days post-op and Mikie is doing well. I actually think he started putting his leg down earlier this time. Seemed like the first surgery it was a couple of weeks. This time the second day he put it down. Not weight bearing, but hobbling along with it. He hasn’t realized the e-collar requires more clearance when walking between furniture in the house. When no one is home he is confined to one of the back carpeted bedrooms. Otherwise he pretty much free roams the house. Single level so no stair worries. And so far he has no desire for much more than going out, taking care of business and getting back in the house. Swelling in the leg is pretty much gone. More later….

    • FunTimesGuide

      @brooksmd:disqus Thanks for the update! Glad to hear the recovery is fairly smooth so far. Appreciate the updates…

  • Barbs

    Thanks so much for posting article. So helpful when you’re faced with the same situation.

  • Rori

    Thank you for posting this. My Boxer was just diagnosed with this, and we cannot afford the surgery…I am heart broken!!!!

  • Gdireland

    after surgery for ACL on m corgi, the skin pigments in the  shaved area is turning black.  Is that normal as he is a blond dog?

  • Mary

    My dog’s ACL surgery cost $300. I’m not kidding. $300. Go see Dr. Tucker in Ozark, Alabama. It’s in the middle of nowhere but worth saving $4,000. He’s the best Veterinarian and my dog is very happy three years later!

  • FunTimesGuide

    Hmmm… good question, Tara. I can see it both ways. Personally, I remember those very first days after the surgery… and I would want things as quiet and comfortable for him as possible. We kept our dog’s crate in the bedroom the entire time. To give him ‘company’ I spent long hours at a time in the room with him — just being nearby. That said, since there are SO MANY weeks of recovery in store here, I think moving him to a more active part of the house would be a nice change of pace after maybe the first 4 days or so. Just my opinion :-D

  • Missy

    Our dog has had TPLO surgery on both of her knees. Each time we set her up in the living room, but barricaded it off from the rest of the house . We did set up an air mattress, which one of us slept on for the first few days. We didn’t want her to feel lonely during her recovery, they don’t understand. I would keep the other dogs away from her, unless they can all lay quietly together. Our dog healed much quicker than anticipated both times. Good luck!

  • Shannon S

    I just found out 3 days ago that my boxer, Bella, has a partial tear in her ACL. Is there any advice or helpful tips you would give someone going into this! We live in Idaho and have to travel 3 1/2 hours for the surgery. I honestly don’t know what to expect, your post has given me and my husband a lot of info and I wanted to thank you for that!

  • Elise Muehlenberg

    My dog Bailey had a complete ACL tear earlier this year, so I took her to the vet and she told me it would cost $3500 to fix it. We didn’t listen to her and we are glad we didn’t. I did some research on conservative management options, and I decided to purchase Dr. Spatt’s brace from WoundWear for $300. When it arrived Bailey was hardly walking and if she did she would hold the leg up. Once in the brace she started to bear weight again, and within a couple of days, I was able to walk her for 5+ minutes. She had it on 24/7 for 3 months for walks and the doggy park. Bailey is 100% healed from using the Woundwear A-Trac Dynamic Brace. This product saved me thousands of dollars and greatly improved the quality of Bailey’s life. My vet has also been extremely impressed and said she would feel comfortable recommending this brace after seeing the huge improvement. I highly suggest this brace to everyone looking for a conservative management option!

    -Elise M.

  • Tracey Hostler

    Thank you for this post. My 3 year old golden retriever just had this surgery on Wednesday and I was so worried about her putting weight on the leg. On top of the torn ACL, she also had a bucket handle tear in her meniscus. The vet I normally take her to could not do the surgery so I was referred to an animal hospital about 45 minutes away. When I picked her up on Thursday, I was so upset because she was putting weight on her leg and was hobbling around. My regular vet had told me that she wouldn’t be allowed to put weight on it for two weeks. After first meeting with a tech, the rehab therapist brought her to me and said the only time I really had to lift up on the sling to take the weight off of her leg was when she went to the bathroom & when I brought her up the deck steps. I then met with the doctor that did the surgery who told me if she wants to put weight on her leg that is a good thing and I am to let her do it. I have been worrying myself sick for the last three days that she was putting weight on it. She is hobbling so I know her full weight isn’t on it yet but it was a relief to read your article and see the pictures of Tenor walking & standing on his leg. Like Tenor, her bruising is a bright red/purple combination. She hates the crate so she is confined strictly to the living room because of the carpet. The furniture is flipped over when I leave for work so there is no chance she will jump on it and my other dog is taken to my mother’s so there is no chance of playing. The one thing I would highly recommend is tell people to stay away from visiting and don’t let anyone ring the doorbell. The calmer you can keep them the better. My aunt came out to help yesterday & all my Stella wanted to do was get up and down to see her. Her ankle swelled horribly from using the leg too much & she kept lifting it up last night from using it too much. I iced the ankle & leg & now the swelling is down but she is very worn out today. When I picked her up, the one receptionist told me her 9 year old newfoundland just had his second tplo surgery. I asked her if she had any advise — she said “drink a glass of wine & breath–it will be a rough two weeks and then it will get better”. The first night, I wasn’t sure I would last two weeks, but we are now on our way to recovery & I will survive & get my baby through this. I do have to say though–my first quote was $2500-$3000. The final bill was $3800 and that did not include the $400 I paid my vet to put her under and do the xrays to see if the ACL was torn. I truly appreciated you sharing your experience with us and you have definitely eased my mind as to how much she is using her leg. Thank you.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Awe – what a sweet dog you have. And I’m so glad that we helped ease your fears a bit. Thanks for sharing YOUR story too! I think you make a great point – recommending no visitors/doorbells. Anything that could get your dog riled up should be put on hold for a few days… or weeks. Glad to hear that you and your dog are doing so well with the recovery – despite the minor ups & downs, which are normal. Cheers – *glass of wine firmly in hand* :-D

  • Teresa

    Lynnette, you are amazing for taking the time to respond to so many comments! One thing I haven’t seen here (yet, but still reading) is that our vet told us if the second leg does go, the regular suture surgery is a more feasible option because the TPLO leg is so strong. We went through the suture version on both legs for our pointer/pit mix one year apart. Now our Pyr/Lab mix (like yours, but white with black spots) is a tri-pod so she is scheduled for TPLO next week. I keep second guessing if we should just stay with the suture surgery because of the pain and recovery for HER (money is not the issue fortunately). Our 80 lb dog did well with the lesser surgery, but he was 9. This girl is 102 lbs, only 2 years old, and thinks she’s a race horse. I’m sure we’ll be back to share stories in the weeks/months to come. Hopefully our info will help someone else, as you have done with this blog. Thank you!!

    • FunTimesGuide

      Hi Teresa – Interesting – and good to know! (what your vet said about the best type of surgery if the second leg goes). Regarding your 102lb 2year old dog having TPLO, I’d definitely recommend the full TPLO surgery. I recently read this:
      ““It has shown to produce excellent results, often with less arthritis. It is usually recommended for dogs that weigh more than 50 pounds.”

      Keep us posted!!! :-D

  • gvm10

    Thanks for detailing all this information. Our 88lb female German Shepherd dog is recovering at the vet now from this surgery. She will stay overnight. We live in an expensive area of CA and the cost runs $3800-$4500. It is good to be aware about the swelling, and like the advice about disconnecting the doorbell as she will be recovering in the living room most of the time. It is reassuring to read that the information your vet gave you is very similar to what our vet described to us. Thanks again for all the photos and helpful information.

    • FunTimesGuide

      gvm10 – oh good. Glad to hear that your vet said pretty much the same things. Thanks for sharing your experience – it’s very helpful to others going through the same thing :-D

  • palmerlakedog

    Thank you for this wonderfully informative ‘diary’. Our pup George (7 year old twin of your Tenor) had TPLO 2 days ago. One month ago, he was running and sitting with no problems, until one Saturday after a jaunt at the local dog park. When he got home, he was hesitant to climb the stairs, or jump back into the car. No other apparent discomfort. The xrays didn’t show anything conclusive, so we agreed to an arthroscopy. The vet (Dr Bauer in Colorado Springs) would do so on both knees (though only the right was bothersome, he did so on both with no additional fee), and would TPLO the right only if necessary. He discovered some tearing, so performed the TPLO. We took him home the same day as the surgery ($3200), and were given the surgeons cell number. George is recovering nicely, and was up and about after 24 hours. Our biggest concern during the first 24hours, was we didn’t know how to assist him in, um, well, how to pee. We were uncertain if he could put any weight on his left leg, and didn’t know how to ‘posture’ him. So we waited, and waited. We had him dressed in a Ruffwear ( [webmaster harness|] ) vest, to help him stabilize when standing, and coned him. After calling the clinic and being assured nature would take its course, finally a full day after his surgery (and we’ve no idea if he’d peed prior to them taking him into the actual surgery), we dis-coned him, and he ran 3-legged into the front yard and had the most luxurious looooong pee, and gave us a big toothy grin of relief. We’re now about to embark on the Range Of Motion exercises suggested by the vet. It does appear that our canine friends adapt more readily to this surgery than we do.

    • Katharine Thayer Kane

      Yes…THANK YOU!!! Our Rottie was just diagnosed today. :-(

      • FunTimesGuide

        Katharine – So sorry to hear that your Rottie has to have the surgery too. Let us know how it goes and if you have any tips to share along the way!

  • steve

    Our 60 pound 5 year old Aussie had the TPLO surgery 4 months ago. She was almost back to normal, then yesterday we took her swimming for the first time after the surgery. On the third time in the water she Yelped! We knew right off what that was, as it was the same Yelp the first time it happened, so now she will be having another TPLO surgery on her other leg. Luckily we bought her a large sized Dog Cart to wheel her around in while she is recovering so she still can get outside fresh air. Was just going to put it back in storage, but now I will be using again! The first TPLO cost $4,400. I would imagine the second one will be about the same, very expensive but have to have it done, she’s a great dog..

    • FunTimesGuide

      Awe – sorry to hear that Steve. So far we’ve been lucky and haven’t had to go through the 2nd TPLO. Having been through it once, hopefully it will be a little easier this time because you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. *Hugs to you and your Aussie*

  • onleia

    Our dog was diagnosed with a fully torn ACL CCL and torn meniscus. The vet prescribed surgery for $5300 for TPLO not to mention the $1,000’s needed for follow up care and appts. We did research to find dog knee braces are a safer alternative after reading all the terrible risks with ACL CCL surgery in dogs. We ended up getting a posh dog knee brace and that has worked out well as our dog has been healing and getting better. With so many risks, a dog knee brace really works and is a safer option compared to risky ACL CCL surgeries. Vets are very forceful that one must get the surgery and say that braces don’t work. Don’t listen to the vet, remember there is a huge financial incentive to sell surgery even if the dog doesn’t need it. Try a dog knee brace as they really do work even for a completely torn ACL CCL.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Good to know about dog knee braces! Thanks for sharing your experience :-D

    • puppylove

      I would have to disagree, There is a link between canine anatomy and the inability of an ACL tear to heal like a humans *might*. I also think it’s unfair to both the vets and dogs with torn ligaments to suggest that it’s purely money driven. This is coming from someone who dog just got scheduled for their second surgery. The first one being an imbrication suture $1300 and this one a TPLO with an estimated cost of $3500, total cost will be $4800. Guess what else? My vet didn’t/ won’t do either one. Why? Because as a vet she want’s what’s best for my dog too and therefore referred me to other surgeons with better facilities/ experience/ tools/ etc. for this particular surgery.

      Suggesting a brace is not a bad thing to do, however suggesting that “regular people” that lack the 8+ years of veterinary medical school know more or better than the vet that they PAY to give them advice, opinions, and expertise is silly at best.

  • Carol

    My Dog had the TTA surgery about 16 months ago and has had problems ever since. He is an 11 year old Corgi mix about 35 lbs. He is on a diet but since he can not exercise due to the surgery, it is difficult for him to lose weight. His body, I have been told is rejecting the plate and therefore it gets infected. So I took him back to the surgeon who told me the plate should come out and that my dog does not need it now that it is healed. Here is the Clincher! The surgeon examined the other knee and says it needs the same surgery. Since the first surgery did not go so well, I am not anxious to do another surgery. Although I will have the plate taken out to give him relief from all the infections, I am thinking about getting a knee brace instead of surgery. If anyone has information about some good knee braces and success with them, I would appreciate you sharing.

  • diego b

    fyi TRUPANION pet insurance does not cover surgery for a ruptured CCL. it is deemed a disease not an accident or a trauma. In their ads the refer to it as an injury and report happy customers getting the surgery but they dont pay for it. My 18 month old mix breed ran in the woods and her leg was caught in hole which ruptured the ligament. TRUPANION just said we wont cover it. its a disease. Avoid this company if you have an active dog especially a labrador…labrador retrievers have no shot had getting this covered by them.

  • wertghj

    Take your pet to the USA canada vet wont like it but it will be half the cost and as good if not better qualified professionals do your homework

  • Liz

    Thanks for sharing your story about Tenor :) My dog, Sassy, tore her acl about week ago. I was so worried about her and didn’t know what to do!! I never saw her in so much pain :( Surgery wasn’t an option because of her age so I had to look for other options. I ended up getting her an A-trac brace from Woundwear and it has been wonderful! She is walking around like her old self again without a limp.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Awe – sorry to hear about Sassy’s ACL injury. But I’m so glad you found something that is working for you both! Thanks for sharing your story. Please give us an update on the A-trac brace later, after she’s worn it for awhile…

  • guest18

    Our 5 year old, 60lb “mix” tore his cruciate within the last couple of months, we thought. A limp here and there and finally no usage at all. We had the surgery done this week. They totally cleaned out the ligament, took away inflammation from the knee joint and meniscus and did the tie-line repair. He’s home now, has his pills, the cone, limited usage, etc.

    The common misconception is that someone can put a knee brace on an injury like this and it will heal itself. It’s not true in humans nor pets. A ligament is not going to rejuvenate itself and grow back.

    Say you don’t have the money if you don’t. Say your dog is too old or a vet advised against. But don’t act like your pet isn’t in pain or is healing with a brace or alternative. We have good friends who are vets, albeit we didn’t use one of them rather a vet who specializes in the surgery. They took us through all the X-rays, photos etc and showed us the levels of inflammation and destruction, as well as the improper movement of the knee area due to the loss of the ligament.

    This isn’t something we expected by the way, we’ve had many dogs over the years, several living until their late teens and never had an issue. At first we thought he just had a sore leg, something in his paw, etc. We checked everything and sort of took the “he’ll get better” approach. After we learned about the level of pain he was in and the fact that his ligament was ruptured down to just a thread, causing considerable build up and inflammation, we realize that months ago when the first limp started we should have been more pro-active.

    Remember, a “brace” might stabilize the mobility from left to right but will do nothing about your animals pain. At least have your injured pets x-rayed and know your options. Get them taken digitally so you can get a second opinion if you want. Had we done so sooner it wouldn’t have changed our chosen treatment option, nor likely the cost or options. But it would have eliminated a lot of unfair pain that our pet went through because we would have done it sooner.

  • TJ

    Brought our 5 year old English Bulldog home today after having TPLO surgery on left hind leg. Having him sit in a confined area is the most difficult thing ever! I have read all the posts here and let me just say “Thank you!” I needed them as I am totally stressed trying to attend to him today. He mostly whines and it is difficult waiting until the next interval to give him his pain medication. The vet told us to put a towel underneath his belly and pull up for support when he goes potty, but he does not like this at all and refuses to go, so we have let him be free to do his business :) Also, the worst part at this point, in addition to the surgery, he has severe razor burn on both of his legs (yes, that is right, someone at the vet messed up and shaved the wrong leg before surgery!) Has anyone ever experienced this with their pet? And what did you put on it to soothe it that was also safe? I read that Vitamin E is supposed to help and I am going to try this later.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Hi TJ. Sorry you and your dog have to go through this. Keep in mind, the more you’re able to stick to the surgeon’s instructions, the faster he will heal and the less you’ll have to watch his every move. It’s worth it, trust me.

      Two things come to mind…

      #1 – Based on what you said about letting your dog be free to do his business. I know how difficult that time was for us, as well. My advice: at the very least you should keep him on a very short leash — especially in the first week or so after surgery.

      “Under no circumstances should a dog with a fresh surgical incision be allowed to run off leash. Restrict your dog’s activity for a period of 7-14 days, to allow the incision to begin healing. When you do take your dog outdoors, keep him or her on a short leash, and avoid long walks. Do not allow your dog to jump, rough-house with other dogs, or engage in any strenuous activity that could cause excessive stretching of the surgical incision, especially in the first few days after the operation. Excessive activity may cause the stitches to break apart, or may cause the incision to start bleeding.” SOURCE:

      #2 – As for the razor burn from the pre-surgery shaving, vitamin E and fish oil can possibly help to reduce the dryness and itching HOWEVER, please call your vet or surgeon’s office first. Adding anything to the incision area can definitely lead to problems and result in the wound not healing properly. Treating your dog’s OTHER leg should be okay though.

      “Do not bathe your dog or allow the incision to get wet. Never apply any cream, ointment, disinfectant or other substance to the incision unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian. In particular, NEVER clean the incision with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol since these products will damage the cells and delay healing. Do not allow your dog to lick or scratch at the incision, as there is a danger that the dog may pull out the stitches or may introduce an infection into the incision. As long as the incision is not bandaged, inspect it at least twice daily. If a surgical drain was placed in the incision, you may be instructed to clean the drain several times per day.” SOURCE:

  • FunTimesGuide

    What GREAT tips, Karl!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. Especially since no 2 stories (and no 2 TPLO surgeries) are identical. Your advice and experience really helps…
    I definitely agree that you should try to be home fulltime for at least the first 2 weeks. Otherwise, you’ll be a wreck worrying about him and your dog may be more apt to injure himself if your eyes aren’t glued on him 24/7 anyway. Fortunately, I work from home, so I was able to be home round the clock after my dog’s surgery.I also love your advice about no slippery floors or slippery surfaces in the crate — something you don’t really think about until the last minute.I think you’re right, having other pets in the house is one of the most stressful parts — simply because of the additional variables/noises/interactions that you have to constantly be on guard about. Post-surgery is a trying time, but in the end the surgery is definitely worth it and all will be back to normal soon. We’re 3 years post-op and no signs of his other leg giving out on our 98-pound Lab mix. Sometimes he limps ever-so-lightly on his surgery leg in the brief moments after he just gets up after a long time of lying down. Then he usually does a l-o-n-g stretch of that leg (as if he knows it helps), and he’s walking normally once again. I recently started giving him Glucosamine and Chondroitin to help with any future joint issues. *so far so good*Thanks again for sharing your story!!! Best wishes for a speedy recovery :-D

  • ksaseniuk

    My dog will be undergoing surgery in a few days and I found this very helpful! Thank you for all the great advice!

  • Shannon S

    My 2 year old boxer partially tore her ACL and we just found out. Your tips are wonderful. Thank you!

  • Anthesafos

    Hi! I’m writing in regards to a similar situation. My 60 lb. Lab had TPLO surgery about a year and 1/2 ago, but just this last month has slightly limped on her TPLO leg after rising from the ground after a day of exercise. She stretches out her TPLO leg like your dog does and then is fine. Just wondering if your dog is still doing that and if you went to the vet or did xrays to see why? She had a full tear and they removed the meniscus too so I know it can’t be that. She did have some arthritis so wondering if that could be it or if she overstrained it somehow. She is a fetchoholic labrador who loves to run and fetch. If she would overdo it, sometimes she would be a little stiff getting up, but never a limp. I’m just racking my brain to figure out why it is her TPLO leg. I for sure thought it would be her other knee since it is about 50% that that ones goes out. Any advice would be helpful. I’m just really sad about it since she had a wonderful recovery and the last year and 1/2 , you would have never known she had knee surgery.