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CRUCIATE PROBLEMS IN DOGS: ACTIVITY AND AT-HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY AFTER LATERAL SUTURE SURGERY
This week-by-week outline is the ideal plan for at-home physical therapy after lateral suture surgery for a torn cranial cruciate ligament.
We have been using essentially the same lateral suture techniques and materials for over 10 years (with occasional slight but signifcant improvements, as they become available) and we are not aware of any patient having broken down the surgical repair by allowing their pet to be too active too soon. We strongly recommend following these activity and physical therapy guidelines as closely as possible though, because doing so will maximize the speed and quality of your pet's recovery from surgery.
WEEKS 1 AND 2 AFTER SURGERY
Exercise is severely restricted for the first two weeks to allow the surgical incisions to heal. Restriction means short leash walks for the purposes of urinating, defecating and getting a bit of fresh air. Dogs that are prone to being very active indoors may need to be confined to a crate or a small area. Most dogs are sure-footed enough on three legs to climb stairs but they should not be allowed to do so unattended. Your pet should be lifted in and out of the car.
WEEKS 3 AND 4
Gentle massage and gentle flexing and extending (range of motion) of the operated knee can begin at the start of week three. Five to ten minutes once or twice daily is sufficient. These should be continued for the duration of physical therapy (four months).
Five minute leash walks, and least twice daily and up to four times daily. Swims of the same duration are acceptable, but running on the beach is not; your pet should be led into the water. Continue daily massage and range-of-motion.
Ten minute leash walks and/or swims at least twice and up to four times daily. Continue daily massage and range of motion.
Fifteen minute leash walks and/or swims at least twice and up to four times daily. Continue daily massage and range of motion.
Twenty minute walks and/or swims at least twice and up to four times daily. Continue daily massage and range of motion.
WEEKS 9 THROUGH 16
Beginning at the start of week 9 with the level of activity of week 8, a gradual increase in activity level, until normal activity by the end of week 16. A leash must be used if the intensity of your dog's activity cannot be controlled when it is off-leash.
Yarmouth Veterinary Center
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