Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery Aftercare

Your dog has had a surgery on its knee and now has a heavy gauge nylon suture attached to the muscle and bone to help replicate the function of the Cranial Cruciate Ligament. This artificial ligament created from the nylon will help stabilize the back and forward motion of the joint that has been causing the lameness in your dog.

At the time of surgery your dog has been given antibiotics to help prevent infection. They have also been given a pain relief injection before and  post surgery and have additional tablets to go home on. It is important that these additional pain killers are given with food at the time specified by the label.

In the first ten days after surgery your dog will need to be kept relatively quiet. They can return to their normal routine but activity should be kept to a minimum and avoid walks, dog parks and rough house play. Ideally avoid slippery floors and provide a soft bed. If there are multiple dogs in the house, they may need to be separated to allow your dog the opportunity to rest post surgery.

At discharge your dog will have a large thick padded bandage on the leg, this bandage is there to help reduce swelling and to reduce movement in the initial phases of healing. The bandage needs to stay dry and therefore if you need to walk on wet grass we advise you place a plastic bag over the end of the leg. This bandage needs to be removed at three days.  Sometimes the bandage will slip off prematurely, this is not a problem but be sure to monitor your dog closely to ensure it does not try lick at its stitches. If your dog is licking the sutures it may require an Elizabethan collar.

When your dog comes in for bandage removal they will be started on a course of Cartrophen injections. This medication helps to reduce inflammation within the joint, stimulate healthy joint fluid production and encourage new cartilage formation.  The Cartrophen injections are initially given once a week for four weeks and continued as required after discussion with your vet. Your dog’s second Cartrophen injection will occur when we remove the skin sutures from your dog at ten days post surgery.

Once the sutures are removed your dog can begin walking on the leash .We advise lead walking at a slow pace to allow your dog to place the affected leg on the ground, ideally the slower the strides the better. If your dog is walking too quickly it may hop and carry the leg. Gradually building up the amount of exercise and length of walk over the coming weeks will help strengthen the muscles and joint. If the dog over exerts itself there is a risk that the surgical implant may break.

Once sutures are removed we also encourage a gradual increasing physiotherapy exercise program.  Very simply, you can lye your dog on the other side to the affected leg and then gently move the affected leg back and forth to a point just before it becomes uncomfortable to your dog. Ten repetitions for three sets once a day will help further strengthen the joint.

At six weeks post surgery a final check up is required. If there is no evidence of lameness then full levels of activity can be resumed. However we strongly recommend your dog does not engage in sudden stopping and starting activity (e.g throwing balls or frisbies) as this motion can put further stress on the remaining Cruciate ligament in the opposite leg.

If you have any problems or concerns, please do not hesitate to call the clinic.