Post Operative Physical Therapy for TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) in Dogs

TPLO  surgery and post operative physical therapy must be preformed together for optimal healing results . With  TPLO surgery or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy  surgery physical therapy can aid in reducing the healing and recovery time. Veterinarians and owners have found that pets who were put on a physical therapy and rehabilitation program had faster healing times and resulted in better gains in strength and function of the affected limb.

The TPLO procedure  involves a surgeon preforming a  curve osteotomy  through the proximal tibia and placing plates and screws to secure the bones after the articular component of the tibia is rotated to hold the osteotomy in position. This procedure alters the biomechanics of the stifle joint. the pro to this surgery is healing  time  can be assessed on radiographs since it is based on bone healing . The con of this surgery is there is more potential for complications and mechanical failure and this procedure is more for active large and giant breed dogs and not for geriatrics or those patients that may have poor bone healing potential.

Home preparation is extremely important to avoid further injury and complicate healing time. First have a small area to confine your pet like a crate or small room or portion of a room blocked off in your home with baby gates. Second absolutely no jumping on and off furniture or jumping up on people . Finally do not allow your pet to climb stairs. If you must have your pet climb stairs to enter or exit your home make sure  they are on a leash to control the movement and you are able to support them with a towel or sling if they cannot support themselves. Listed below is a sample of post operative physical therapy for TTA surgery broken down into weekly stages :

Week 1: Post operative when your pet arrives home:

  • massage 5-10 minutes 3-4 times day
  • Passive range of motion exercises (PROM) 10 reps 3-4 times daily
  • Short& controlled leash walks  5 minutes 3-4 times daily
  • Cold therapy (ice pack or frozen vegetables ) 10 minutes 2-3 times daily

Week 2:

  • Moist heat (hot pack , warm washcloth ) before exercises 10 min
  • PROM 15 reps 3-4 times daily
  • Leash walk 5-10 minutes 3-4 times daily
  • Massage 10 minutes 2 times daily
  • Cold therapy 10 minutes 2-3 times daily

Week 3:

  • Moist heat (hot pack , warm washcloth ) before exercises 10 min
  • PROM 15 reps 3-4 times daily
  • Leash walk 15-20  minutes 3-4 times daily
  • Massage 10 minutes 2 times daily
  • Discontinue cold therapy only use as needed
  • Sit to stand exercises 5-7 reps 3-4 times daily

Week 4

  • Only apply heat , massage and PROM as needed
  • Leash walk 20 minutes 2-3 times daily
  • Sit to stand  10 reps 3-4 times daily
  • figure 8 exercises 10 reps 3-4 times daily
  • have your pet begin to step over outdoor objects

Weeks 5-8

  • Leash walk 20-30 minutes incorporate some hill work for 5-10 minutes of your walk going up , down and sideways try to walk 2-3 times daily
  • Sit to stand 10-15 reps 2-3 times daily
  • Figure 8 15-20 reps 2-3 times daily
  • Curb work 10-15 feet 3-4 times daily
  • Have your pet step over outdoor objects during your walk

Weeks 9-12

  • Stair work for 5 reps 1-3 times daily
  • Your pet can now have some off leash supervised activity at the discretion of you and your vet
  • Leash walk for 30 minutes and incorporate hill work for 10 minutes of the walk try to walk 2-3 times daily
  • Sit to stand 10-15 reps 2-3 times daily
  • Figure 8 20 reps 2-3 times daily
  • Curb work 15-20 feet 2-3 times daily
  • Jogging 20 feet 3-4 times daily
  • Swimming 5-10 minutes 1-2 times weekly if possible

Please do not attempt any of these exercises on your own without first consulting your veterinarian or a certified canine rehab practitioner. If you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation for a full and detailed explanation and demonstration of the therapy exercises contact Chrissy at : or 615-750-2248



Chrissy Short (26 Posts)

Chrissy joined the practice in June 2012. Chrissy was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee. In 2000, she began attending MTSU, where she obtained a B.S. in Animal Science with a concentration in Horse Science. In 2005, she attended Columbia State for Veterinary Technology, and graduated in 2007 with her A.A.S. She went on to pass the state board exam and became a Licensed Veterinary Medical Technician. Chrissy worked as a licensed technician for several years before pursuing her passion of Canine Athletics and Rehabilitation. She received her certification from the University of Tennessee as a Certified Canine Rehab Practitioner, in 2011. Chrissy loves to work out and run, daily. She is also involved in animal rescue and welfare. She volunteers with local animal rescue organizations when abuse and hoarding cases arise. Chrissy also enjoys spending time with her family, including her two horses, two dogs, and two cats.

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