One of our rescues needed TPLO surgery. A big decision that we discussed at length with our veterinarian. I am a planner so decided to go online to see what to expect and how I could do to prepare our home for recovery. I had a difficult time finding something- I did stumble upon one blog that proved to be helpful- but I decided that maybe our story could help someone else in the future.
Map out a plan:
Whelping box- to isolate without being completely separated, contain messes, keep her safe during recovery,
Area rugs to cover the hardwood flooring
Puppy pads for the first few potty attempts- (ended up using these more than first anticipated)
Flatter dog bed
Lower water dish
Wet (canned) food? (Ended up donating this to the pet food pantry and used boiled chicken and rice instead- Riva is a picky princess 👑)
Set up shop in the finished basement since there are no stairs.
Family schedule to help “babysit” so she is never alone.
Ramp- had to practice that with her
One of our GSDs (Riva- the all black one) is getting TPLO surgery. I am a planner so like anyone who has to know what is coming, I began planning for any scenario I could think of as soon as I got off of the phone with Dr. Magnifico. Research online showed me all of the above and then some.
Morning of Riva’s surgery
It is 5:26 am. Trying to stave off the dogs as long as possible since Riva cannot have breakfast. Havent slept in this late on a “school day” in AGES. Usually by now they have had their first walk and a full breakfast. I did keep them up later than usual last night and we went on a super long walk yesterday afternoon… so far so good. Rontu will get loads of exercise today in hopes that he will be too tired to be too nosy this evening.
Walked 4 miles, then another 1.5 miles later plus our normal walks around our property and lots of ball throwing today. It worked!
Riva comes home that night
We’re given specific instructions (thank you) on all medications and what to do and not to do both written and verbally and told to call if there were any questions or concerns. Maneuvering into and out of the car was a challenge. Her recovery box at the moment has been a primo idea and I’m so glad to have it. Rontu is able to see her and be near her without being able to bother her. Also glad to have purchased the disposable changing pads- highly recommend as she cannot control anything right now. She comes out of her drowsy every so often, but the box is helping to keep her still. No food tonight- boiled chicken with rice tomorrow.
First morning home
Finally settled somewhere around 2 am. Poor thing was so disoriented. A little grumbly at Rontu (who is very curious) but that is understandable and he only gave a small grumble more of excitement than anything else. We are still monitoring their interactions closely and “the box” is serving its purpose fantastically. I was up most of the night- mostly reassuring her and changing out soiled chux or pee pads or whatever you call them. Highly recommend disposable chux as she cannot get up to relieve herself yet. They were money well spent. As my dogs thrive on routine, I would give everyone an A- so far with the disruption of things. Breakfast for Rontu and morning walk were the norm. At first he did not want to leave without her, but a little coaxing was all it took.
Boiled up a little chicken and rice – which I had the good idea to chop up and freeze in serving size baggies ahead of time so prep this morning was simple. Precooked the rice last week as well and put in Tupperware. I must remember to thank my♥️husband for allowing me to remain a stay at home mom and just substitute teach-between this pandemic, online learning and this tplo surgery, I do not know how anyone would be able to work 40 hours a week and survive. Also am extremely grateful to our vet who is basically on speed dial and I have been texting with continuously. She has been a rock of support and a wealth of helpful knowledge and advice. Thank you Dr. Magnifico and JVC!! Since the weather was so beautiful today we spent some quality time in the sunshine. I really think that helped Riva feel better.
Second night home
Much better- still tough, but better. Much less restless. Still messy, but knowing it is temporary helps! Riva is showing more of herself- which is nice. Rontu is learning very quickly that “gentle” and “calm” are serious. He still stays right next to her “box”… yesterday she growled at him (I think the sedative makes her grumpy or loopy at least?) and I got a little nervous because a year ago that would have been a fight and a vet visit. Instead, Rontu looked at me and then sat and looked away, ears down. So we are still monitoring behavior, obviously but I was pleased with his response and completely understand her being grouchy. Again- so glad to have this recovery box.
It’s serving multiple purposes- all helpful. And we are all pitching in to keep her company. The kids are doing some of their classes downstairs with her when I have chores that need to be done or errands like groceries. We make sure she is never alone and I think it is great to see everyone coming through for that.
Raining😩 But we used the sling and got Riva outside to pee this morning!! I still have another order of pee pads in the Amazon cart though. We are going through those a lot during the night because she is so groggy. Better appetite today. Folks, this is like when you have a newborn- you think there is a schedule, but there isn’t. That is the tricky part for your other pets. I am learning that the key is to make it all seem normal and the rest is kind of falling into place.
Only one accident last night and actually I almost made it to her in time were it not for a little sleep deprivation and the cumbersome cone/box/leg situation we are in….anyway, the laundry is started. Riva got her bandage off last night at the vet, so the cone is necessary when she isn’t distracted by something else- a kong is a good distraction. She still has not pooed, but I gave her regular dog kibble this morning anyway. Maybe that will help start things. It is supposed to be nice outside today, so I am hoping to get her outside often. She is very growly- nervous like and I assume she feels vulnerable. I am so very glad that we brushed up on all of Rontus behaviors and tricks in anticipation of her surgery as he is being a real star about it and taking things in stride.
Pee pads- after trial and error I recommend covering the bottoms of the box and duct taping them together so the dog doesn’t get caught up and twisted in them. If there is a bed also in there I recommend placing a pee pad and then wrapping the bed in a towel to hold things in place. Be prepared to do laundry during recovery.
Surgery was Monday. Still no poo for bathrooming- just pee. We have a 10 am appointment for laser therapy this morning, so I will mention it then. Made it through the night without any accidents!! Riva is just about back to her old self personality wise, which is nice. It does make keeping her inactive and calm difficult. The box helps with that, but I wonder if it will still work once she is less painful. A leash will be on her for the length of recovery….She hates the cone, but it is necessary right now to keep her from licking at the surgery site…. it will be nice when we can take that off.
Had a vet appointment this morning for laser therapy- Riva fell trying to get her into the car- scary- she was fine though. Got a good report at the vet. Have to go back on Monday.
Sunny day today and spent a lot of it outside and both dogs (kids to btw)were so happy to be sort of normal for a bit. Everyone is exhausted tonight. I’m still sleeping in the basement with the dogs. Oh and best of all! Riva finally pooped!! Crazy the things that one can sometimes be excited about.
We finally brought Riva upstairs. We have a walkout basement and just brought her around to the garage where she could use the ramp to get in easily. Today it was a beautiful day out and we really spent most of it outside again. We tried putting the dogs in the pen so we could do yard work and they could still enjoy the weather- but with covid, we haven’t had them in there (no need as I have not been subbing)- anyway, Rontu pulled a whodini and when I went to put him back in Riva had somehow gotten herself up onto the doghouse platform🤷♀️ So I had to put them inside for a little bit. But other than that, we spent a lot of time lolling in the sun. And when we came in I think Riva was very happy to be upstairs like usual. I still slept down in the basement with them.
Well- I think I can move back to my bedroom. My back and neck will thank me- I am too old to spend all my nights on a couch😂 It is rainy today, so we are all just indoors, but I did bring Riva around. Our basement is fantastic and we finished it to a family room, but we still end up spending most of our time in the kitchen-
So she’s up with us. I think we will put her box in the dog room and get them settled in there for tonight so things will be really and truly back to pretty much normal for them. Rontu has been sleeping on the floor next to Riva and I’m sure he misses sleeping on his bed.
I ended up staying in the basement last night. They slept in their room- yes my dogs have their own room. Long story…. Anyway- I will admit I was nervous so I stayed on the sofa one more time. There was no need as they both put in a fine night. So tonight I am sleeping in a bed-yay!!🎉
It is a full week since this journey began. I think we are doing well. It will be nice when Riva can have the cone gone, but that is a while yet. It is cumbersome to say the least. Bathrooming this morning was normal. She’s ready to play, so the leash is necessary. All good this morning.
We are a full week out and it feels like so long ago already. Leashing is imperative as she is feeling much better and wants to play. Sidenote to that- please try to find time to play with your other pets otherwise I noticed some frustration building up, which can lead to behavior problems if not checked.
I have been having my husband feed Riva in the mornings and keeping Rontu out a bit just to throw a toy and play chase, as well as our good 4 mile walk in the afternoons. Seems to be helping.
Riva had her last laser therapy yesterday and all is looking good! Now it is just a matter of keeping up with her meds- basically the antibiotic. She did not get a pain pill this morning, but if she seems painful later I will definitely give her one.
Fast forward- we are now 6 weeks out. She has her X-ray check up tomorrow. Still leash walking, which is now a challenge because she is feeling good. Still occasionally limping, but usually has a normal gait. Hoping they are happy with the X-rays tomorrow🤞
Things are looking good, but still need to take things slow… strict about leash walking, no rough housing, no stairs, etc. It is a long recovery, but we can visibly see a difference in her legs and hoping it’s all for the best in the long run.
We’ve been walking more now- we are about 10 weeks out. I have to admit that I am getting lazy with the leash. We have xrays schedule for 12 weeks. Hoping we get the all clear then.
Xrays we’re today. Waiting to hear from the surgeon🤞🤞
Yay!!! Clean bill of health. Can resume normal activities with slow introduction… so no running like a maniac right away, but still great news. Riva is visibly more comfortable. I am still hesitant about her with stairs and jumping in and out of the car, but she is doing fine, so all is good!
This has been a very long road to recovery. Time will tell if it has all been worth it, but looking at Riva now and seeing that she is clearly more comfortable using her leg, it seems like it was the right decision.