If your dog has ever had ACL surgery, you know that the recovery is no walk in the park. The following weeks after surgery are crucial to your dog’s healing process so it’s important that you understand the how to’s of post-ACL surgery care.
First and foremost, listen to your vet! Listen closely to your veterinarian, as their instructions should be clearly understood. It’s also important to keep your dog on a leash at all times, even in the house. Keeping your pup on a leash ensures that he won’t be running to the doorbell when it rings, chasing your other pets around, or jumping on surfaces.
It’s vital that your dog has extremely limited activity during the first six weeks after surgery so he must be supervised and leashed at all times. When your dog is unsupervised, he should be placed in a confined area, such as a crate, that is still spacious enough for him to move or switch positions. As dog owners, we know the importance of dog walking and exercise and may want to let him run around and play. When it’s time to go outside activity duration should be kept minimal, engaging only in short walks on the leash a few times per day to go to the bathroom. At first, walks should start at half of a block, being careful that too much pressure isn’t placed on the legs. Once staples or stitches are taken out, your dog’s walking distance can be increased to one and a half to two blocks, 2-3 times per day. A great alternative to walking after the stitches removal is swimming. If you have a swimming pool, let your pup go for a dip! This is a great alternative because there is no weight on the legs and lets him get his exercise in for the day.
In order for your dog to regain muscle strength in the legs, it’s important to slowly increase the duration of activities and exercise. But keep in mind, increasing duration does not mean increasing the intensity of the exercise. Activities, like running and jumping, should not be permitted and risk serious damage to the operated leg and other legs. After the first six weeks, take your dog on a two-block walk. If your pup responds well, increase the walk’s duration by a half of a block every few days. Walks around weeks 9 and 10 post-operation can be any duration your dog feels comfortable with. That being said, only walk the distance your dog can tolerate.
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Written by: Callie T.