So you’re preparing for your dogs upcoming canine cruciate ligament surgery, but you’re not sure what you’ll need to help make life easier for you both during recovery. Well don’t panic, I’ve been there and I have some must have items for you to get!
Lilly had her TTA surgery on the 15th of July 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic, so some things were harder to get hold of and certain things we were unable to do. However, she’s now doing really well and I wanted to share some of the things we found useful. So let’s get on with it shall we?
Dog Crate or Pen
Your dog’s exercise is going to be severely restricted for 7-8 weeks post op, they’ll need to be kept as calm and as quiet as possible. This can be very difficult and frustrating especially for dogs that are used to roaming around the house as and when they please. I highly recommend you get a dog crate that’s big enough for your dog to lay down, sit up and move around in with an Elizabethan collar/cone on. Ideally you’d get one with enough time to train your dog that it’s not a bad place and reinforce positive behaviours with the crate.
Lilly was crate trained as a puppy so she was absolutely used to it and we already had one here. However, if you’re unable to get a crate then a pen will be fine as long as it’s not too big! The idea is to restrict unnecessary movement to allow them to fully rest and recover from the canine cruciate ligament surgery. Most pet shops stock dog crates but if all else fails there’s Amazon!
If you live in a house with tiled, marble or laminate floors you’re going to be needing a lot of mats! It’s really important that your dog doesn’t slip so although you may find mats a bit of a pain or unsightly, you’re definitely going to want them. Canine cruciate ligament surgery isn’t cheap so avoid the risk of further problems by getting non-slip mats or some carpet offcuts from your local carpet store!
We have had so many mats and lots of non slip vet-bed all over the down stairs (your dog won’t be allowed upstairs post op).
Medical Pet Suit or Anti Lick Leg Sleeve
Your dog is going to have an incision site, which for canine cruciate ligament surgery is inside of the affected leg. It will be stitched, stapled or glued. It’s vital your dog doesn’t lick the wound as the risk of infection increases massively. Plus if they disturb deeper stitches you could end up with another big bill and more antibiotics, if infection takes hold you could be looking at further surgery down the line to remove the hardware as the bacteria can ‘hide’ under the hardware and continue to thrive despite antibiotics!
Now I had ordered a Medical Pet Suit that came as 2 pieces a 4 in 1 top and the hind leg sleeves. Unfortunately, this didn’t arrive until after the operation and Lilly did manage to lick her wound even though she had her cone on! Now having worked at a vets myself, I was able to clean the wound and fully re-dress it myself as I could see she hadn’t fully re-opened the wound. I did take photos and sent them to the vet and we had to continue daily cleaning and redressing until the wound healed itself and watched for signs of infection. For you this is likely to mean further vet bills!
So I would definitely advise ordering either the medical pet suit 4 in 1 top and leg sleeves (I got mine from Simply2 Pet Products) or getting a lick leg sleeve.
Ramp for Car and Steps
If you have a larger dog that’s a little too heavy to lift all the time, please invest in a ramp for your car and if you have steps in your garden you’ll need a ramp there too! Honestly lifting a 34kg/77lbs+ dog isn’t fun especially when you may need to do so to get them to the toilet multiple times a day. It’s literally back breaking work and your dog and your back will thank you for getting that ramp I promise! I was lucky enough to have a neighbour who made us a ramp as our back door and garden steps are at a very strange angle, so the shop bought just wouldn’t fit.
I’d also recommend you ask your vet or nurse to show you how to correctly lift just in case you need to. There will be a specific way to do this that will be easier for you and more comfortable for your dog, after all they aren’t going to be feeling fantastic after such a big operation! Now the car ramp will be useful long after your dogs canine cruciate ligament surgery, especially as your dog gets older.
As the weeks go on your dog is going to start getting bored! They are going to feel like everything is fine and they are healed, when actually due to the nature of the canine cruciate ligament surgery, the bone is nowhere near healed! It’s going to be really important to get some brain games that will mentally stimulate them and tire them out. I used Lickimats which I mashed some banana or sweet potato and smothered in low fat greek yogurt (check there’s no artificial sweeteners in this) before freezing. I also made my own snuffle mat, but you can buy these ready made by a local dog charity (Hope Rescue)! You could also stuff and freeze a KONG or purchase an ostrich bone for your dog to chew on, we bough this ostrich bone from JR Pet Products!
All these things are suggestions but something they can do with little to no movement is ideal!
Easy Access Dog Bed
So this one is really important, your dogs canine cruciate ligament surgery will mean your dog may not feel comfortable using their leg. So you’ll need a bed that your dog doesn’t sink into as it’s going to be difficult for them to climb out of on three good legs. Something that’s supportive but not raised off the floor is ideal. I personally put Lilly’s Tuffies Wipe Clean Mattress bed with its luxury fleece cover on inside her crate. When out of her crate Lilly would lay in her Zippies waterproof bed, that has a lower front side for easy access.
A Camping Bed or Bed Sofa
This one is definitely for you! Lilly had her operation on the 15th of July but injured herself on the 6th of July, so I slept downstairs with her on the sofa from day 1. We didn’t get back upstairs to my bed until the middle of November! I’ll be honest sleeping on the sofa was not fun and my body hated me for it. So if you can find yourself something comfy to sleep on that would be ideal and I know your body will be grateful for a comfy place to sleep too!
So there you have it, some of my must have items to help your dog recover from their canine cruciate ligament surgery, whether they had TTA or TPLO surgery! If you’d like to read more about our journey and Lilly’s canine cruciate ligament injury you can find out more here.
I hope this helps in some way and if you’ve already been on this crazy journey do you have something else you think is a must have item?