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MPL Surgery Recovery period

The 12-week recovery timeline after a medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery for dogs

Medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery helps correct knee cap dislocation (patellar luxation) in dogs.

We cover the common causes, diagnosis, and surgical experience in our MPL surgery for dogs blog post here.

In this blog we dive deeper into the recovery timeline after a pet needs MPL surgery, including what to expect, how to prepare your home, and more.

Let’s dive in!

Pre-op home preparation:

Successful recovery from MPL surgery almost always requires your dog to be restricted or confined to prevent re-injury. Preparing your home ahead of time can help ensure an easy transition after the surgery.

We frequently recommend one of the following options:

  • A large wire dog crate
  • A small room like a bathroom, laundry room, or very small bedroom
  • An area in your home restricted with baby gates
  • A fenced-off area or x-pen

Be sure to remove any furniture that your dog may attempt to jump up on when they’re restricted, and if you’re using a fenced-off area, pen, or gate, be sure they’re high enough that your pet won’t attempt an escape.

There should be no access to stairs, steps, low tables, chairs, or couches for your pet to jump up on. Engaging in these activities can lead to re-injury and slow the healing process.

You may also want to put down rugs, yoga mats, or non-slip mats on slippery floors like tile, hardwood, or laminate. If you can’t cover these areas of your home in a non-slip material, we recommend restricting access to them. Slippery floors are a common cause of re-injury.

Listen to your veterinarian’s advice:

Recovery timeline after MPL surgeryYour veterinarian knows your dog best, so be sure to take their and your surgeons’ advice seriously. Their recommendations may differ from those outlined here, depending on your situation, your pet’s health, and any complications or other factors.
Every pet and home environment are different, so be sure your surgeon and primary veterinarian understand yours. Differences in home environment, lifestyle, and your pet’s disposition will have an impact on your at-home recovery plan.


The First 24 Hours After MPL Surgery

In most cases your pet will remain in the hospital for one night after surgery, to monitor them and ensure there are no short-term complications post-op. Some patients may require a longer stay based on their condition.

When your pet is discharged from the hospital, your veterinary technician will go over detailed recovery instructions that are specific to your pet.

First Two Weeks Post-Op:

The first two weeks after MPL surgery are the most important to keep your pet restricted. During this period, your dog should remain confined to a large crate or closed off area with no opportunities for them to injure themselves.

This means you should avoid any and all access to stairs or steps, no running or jumping, and no off-leash activity or playing with other dogs.

Generally, movement should be restricted to short on-leash potty breaks for this period.

Your first re-check appointment will likely be around two weeks post-op. This recheck appointment will be used to monitor recovery and judge progress.  At this time, you may be referred to a veterinary rehabilitation center to further boost your pet’s recovery.

Weeks 2-6 of recovery

During this period it’s important to maintain confinement and restrict access to potential hazards. Running, jumping, and playing are all high risk and have potential for re-injury or slowing the healing process.

Depending on your dog’s progress, you may be able to use basic obedience training and short leashed activities.  Practicing commands like “sit”, “lie down”, “heel” are generally safe after your first re-check appointment. These keep your pet’s mind active and are low-impact activities that keep them engaged.Dog recovery timeline after medial patellar luxation

One common mistake made during this extended period of confinement is overfeeding. It can be easy to go overboard on the treats if they’re not monitored carefully and balanced with regular meals. Excess treats can pack on extra pounds, particularly when your pet isn’t burning off the calories with regular walks or exercise.

Even a few additional pounds can increase the strain on joints and slow the recovery process after surgery!

Weeks 6-8

At ASOC we generally perform a second recheck appointment 6-8 weeks post-op. Depending on your pet, we may perform recheck radiographs (x-rays) at this time. This will help monitor the healing process and identify any potential issues.

Your surgeon will also indicate if additional recheck appointments are needed at this time.

Weeks 8-12

If your surgeon has requested follow-up recheck appointments, they may be performed 8-12 weeks after surgery. Most dogs are able to return to longer walks during this period and can spend less time confined.

It is still very important to keep a close eye on your pet and prevent them from performing any dangerous activities such as jumping off of couches, out of cars, or running/playing hard.

Towards the end of the 12-week recovery timeline, your pet should be nearing full recovery and can begin to resume full activity. This may vary depending on your pet’s situation and needs, so be sure to consult with your surgeon first.

What is the success rate of MPL surgery?

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, over 90% of owners are satisfied by the progress of their dog after surgery, and most dogs go on to live normal, active lives after surgery. This is especially true when surgery is performed early on after diagnosis.

The prognosis can be less favorable in larger dogs, especially when other abnormalities such as hip dysplasia are present.

What’s next?

At ASOC, our board-certified surgeons have helped thousands of dogs return to  activities pain-free or largely pain-free. ASOC has always been a leader in adopting practices to improve outcomes and lower complication rates.

If you’re ready to book your appointment to consult with one of our surgeons about MPL surgery for your dog, give us a call at (206) 545-4322, or ask your veterinarian for a referral to Animal Surgical and Orthopedic Center.

We look forward to helping your pet live a happy, pain-free lifestyle!


Posted March 18, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Uncategorized with No Comments

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