WHAT TO EXPECT WITH MY DOG’S KNEE SURGERY
(Some aspects of this are subject to change depending on your individual pet’s needs)
Before the Surgery:
1. Bloodwork: This is done on your pet prior to anesthetic to ensure there are no abnormalities. You will need to make an appointment at least 3 days ahead of surgery for this and your pet should be fasted. For more information on bloodwork, visit our website at:
2. Starting medications: It is recommended that your pet begins taking medication for pain prior to surgery day (this will continue throughout the recovery period as well).
Gabapentin – This is a medication used to control chronic nerve pain; it needs a few days in your pet’s system to achieve therapeutic levels. When starting this medication watch your dog closely as Gabapentin can cause sedation. Some dogs may benefit from staying on this medication long term. Gabapentin should never be stopped suddenly.
Metacam – This is a “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory” used to treat orthopedic inflammation/pain and discomfort. It comes in a liquid form and is given once a day. It is beneficial to start this prior to surgery to begin reducing inflammation in the joint and provide some pain relief until surgery day. Some pets may be on this medication long term after surgery to manage pain associated with arthritis. When giving Metacam; never give Aspirin or any other medication to your pet without contacting your veterinarian.
Glucosamine/chondroitin products – Your pet should be supplemented daily with this to help joints and slow down/reduce effects of arthritis.
3. Preparing for rehabilitation (physiotherapy): You will need to schedule an appointment with the veterinary technician to go over basic understanding of rehabilitation and techniques prior to surgery day.
4. Preparing for surgery day: Recovery for knee surgery is a very strict process; the following are actions/dangers to your pet during recovery period (2-3 months)
- No jumping up – on to beds, couches, into cars etc..
- No running/off leash activities – Your pet must be restricted to leashed bathroom breaks and eventually short, leashed walks (you will follow physiotherapy schedule).
- Slippery floors – Make sure your pet has traction around the house to avoid re-injuring him/herself.
- No stairs of any kind – Stairs are restricted for the full recovery period (even if it is only 2 or 3 steps!)
- No ramps/inclines of any sort until 5 weeks after surgery.
- A sling can be very useful in assisting your dog while going to the bathroom (especially females who need to squat).
- “Puppy pads” may be purchased in case your pet urinates where he/she sleeps the night of surgery.
- Cool gel packs and hot packs are used when doing physio therapy. ** A lot of pet owners will create a space in the house where the dog is confined. If your pet is used to sleeping with you upstairs – be prepared; many owners have spent the recovery period sleeping with their pet on the main floor of the house.**
5. The day and night before surgery: Give medications today as per usual. You will need to “fast” your pet in the evening, therefore do not give food after 8pm. Water is ok to be left out but pick it up in the morning.
-You will be sent home with more pain medication and are responsible to give Codeine and Gabapentin this evening as prescribed. (Metacam continues the following day).
-Your pet may/may not be able to walk out of the clinic in the evening. Our staff can help you out to the car. It would will be beneficial to have an extra person in the car to control the dog on the drive home and help from the car to the house. Again, a sling can be useful in assisting your dog.
-Expect some whining and unsettled behaviour: Your pet may seem uncomfortable or confused, this is usually due to the following things:
- Does he/she need to go to the bathroom? Maybe they do but need assistance.
- Is he/she painful? – If so, see Codeine instructions. (A good way to detect pain is lightly touching around the incision and looking for reaction, any trembling or guarded movement in that leg).
- Drugs and anesthetic can cause some confusion after surgery.
-An ice pack can be placed on the outside of the knee (the plate is on the inside and you are not to put the ice directly on the plate). Ice for 10 minutes at a time, (3-4 times a night) this will help to reduce inflammation.
After the Surgery:
Rehabilitation (Physiotherapy): This should be done 3 times daily until recovered. (You will be given a schedule & instructions to follow with your pet).
Rechecks:Your pet will come back in 7-10 days following surgery (sooner if there are problems). At this appointment we will check the incision and progress so far, and review physiotherapy instructions. It is recommended to meet with the technician every 2-3 weeks to assess physio success and discuss new exercises that can be done based on recovery rate.
Control X-rays:X-rays are taken 10 weeks after surgery to ensure the bones are healing properly, this is a good tool in telling us if your pet can return to normal activity.