The adventures of Rook! One dog’s road to TPLO recovery.

Written by Tracy Burlingame

There are so many wonderful experiences that we have as sporting and competition dog owners, but always looming in the back of our minds is fear of injury. This is especially true if our dogs are “Weekend Warriors”. We try our best to balance our dog’s energy, drive and genetics with the inherent risk that comes with high-level activity, but sometimes despite our best efforts and intentions – things happen. We feed them the best food and supplements (VetriScience products of course), keep them lean, in tip-top condition and monitor every little detail of their health; but, they can be hurt jumping off the couch just as they can by landing a jump wrong on the agility course.

Unfortunately, our dog Rook ruptured the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) in his knee while running a few weeks ago.  He had experienced minor lameness here and there for a month or so prior with no definitive diagnosis (knee problems prior to a complete rupture can be hard to diagnose without arthroscopy) so it’s likely that the ligament was already damaged.Rook - Bubble cone 5-2016

After a quick trip to the ER, Rook was scheduled for a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy surgical procedure the very next day (Click here for a quick video on TPLO surgery). Thankfully, we have access to a number of amazing specialty centers with board-certified canine orthopedists in the Denver area, as well as the CSU Veterinary program.

After his surgery and an overnight stay at the hospital, he came home to begin his recovery. This wasn’t the first time we had been through a TPLO and the subsequent recovery, but it had been 11 years. We had forgotten much of our previous experience (it was after that surgery with our dog Kasey that we were first introduced to GlycoFlex!) but it was amazing how quickly it started to come back. Dogs are very stoic and manage pain so much better than humans and we were astonished at how well Rook walked and moved considering the major procedure he had just experienced.

Week One found Rook sleeping a lot and just trying to come out of the lingering effects of the anesthesia. He was also on heavy-duty pain medication which was sedating. The only activity was quick trips on-leash to potty in the yard and then he went right back to his pen or crate for strict rest. Ice packs and massage helped to manage the inflammation, pain and swelling; and a regimen of our favorite VetriScience products helped to keep up his strength and mobility. Thankfully, I was able to work from home the first few weeks. I couldn’t imagine leaving him alone so soon after surgery.Rook 1st Day Home 5-2016

Going into Week Two and Rook was walking well and moving very normal, but we definitely noticed significant atrophy of his hindquarters. Short walks to the end of the driveway and some living room time with the family began as we started to try and find activities to engage his brain since we couldn’t engage his body.  We did some gentle range of motion exercises to keep him limber and keep the skin around the incision site flexible. A massive spring snowstorm made getting outside for the short walks challenging, but we kept a path shoveled and persevered. “Cabin Fever” had set in for all of us due to the snow as well as just having to stay home 24/7 with our patient.Rook - Snowy walk 5-2016

Day 14 was a trip back to the veterinary hospital for a follow-up and staple removal. The doc was pleased with Rook’s progress and range of motion and felt that he was recovering well.  He is such a happy, goofy dog and all of the staff was happy to see him and told me how sweet he was. He sure knows how to work a room!  Our follow- up appointment is at 8 weeks post-op. At that time they will take some radiographs of his knee to see how the bone is healing and give us our rehab protocol.

One month down, two to go!  He is still walking well and using his leg more and more, but he is stiff for a bit after a long period of rest. The first 8-12 weeks of recovery is so important to the overall success of the procedure. Over- activity can be disastrous, so limiting their activity while the bone heals and fuses with the hardware, and keeping them stable (so as to not injure their other knee due to weight compensation) is crucial. However, insufficient activity can leave them weak and atrophied setting them up for additional injury down the road.  It is a delicate balance and we hope that we make it to the end successfully!

Tracy and her dogs are canine athletes that are sponsored by VetriScience Laboratories. They live and play in Colorado and have been a part of the VetriScience family for over 5 years. Products that helped Rook with his recovery include, Mobility Flex, Resvera Flex, GlycoFlex and Composure.Sugar Beast

Follow the adventures of Rook, Sugar and Xander from Team Splashdown on Facebook and Instagram!