TPLO or Turmeric? When It Comes to a Serious Condition, Can Supplements Work?

There are numerous claims, online and in print, about over-the-counter supplements and their ability to heal many things from diabetes to the common cold. Natural supplements can certainly have their appeal as a mode of treatment, especially if they are a less expensive and less invasive option. The popularity of supplements has also impacted the pet community…but are some of these claims too good to be true?

In the case of a more serious condition like an orthopedic injury, there are substantial reasons why supplements can only go so far. The expert teams at Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle (ASCS) and SOUND Veterinary Rehabilitation Center (SVRC), are here to share their expertise about one common surgical procedure, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), and explain why supplements may support, but not replace, veterinary care.

Understanding TPLO

If TPLO is recommended, your pet has experienced a rupture to the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This can occur slowly with extensive use of the knee or it can be the result of a sudden injury. A torn CCL causes pain and immobility; the level of immobility depends on the severity of the rupture.

Over time, degeneration of the joint continues, resulting in pain, progressive arthritis, and eventual lameness. To diagnose, we rely on a thorough examination, X-rays and, and a cranial drawer test, which measures the instability of the joint.

Illustration courtesy of American College of Veterinary Surgeon (ACVS).

TPLO is one of the most common procedures to repair such injury, restore the leg to mobility, and reduce the occurrence of osteoarthritis. A ruptured CCL, much like an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in humans, will not naturally heal itself. It is considered a serious condition that requires surgery to treat.

During surgery, the tibial plateau, the weight-bearing area of the knee, is cut and repositioned at a 5-degree angle. This prevents the femur (bone) from sliding down onto the tibial plateau. The stifle (knee joint) will then be stable when your pet puts weight on it. The philosophy behind the TPLO surgery is to completely change the dynamics of the dog’s knee, so that the torn ligament becomes irrelevant to the stability of the knee itself.

Long-term results with this surgery have been overwhelmingly positive. Combined with a rehabilitation program, complete recovery normally takes from three to six months.

Can Turmeric or Supplements Really Work?

There are many reasons why turmeric and other natural plants, herbs, and spices may be beneficial to pets in certain situations. Glucosamine, in combination with chondroitin, has supportive healing properties in treating arthritis. Fish oil is another common supplement used to enhance mobility.

Regarding the question of trendy turmeric, one of its active compounds, curcumin, is an anti-inflammatory. Many manufacturers claim that turmeric works to decrease inflammation associated with arthritis and other joint degenerative conditions. While there is anecdotal evidence to support such claims, further studies are needed to measure turmeric efficacy – in humans, as well as animals.

However, did you know that if your pet is receiving a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) as a part of their care, turmeric and other supplements may interfere with the medication?

Knowledge is power.

There are many complementary therapies that may enhance healing and recovery for a pet with a CCL injury, or other injuries and illnesses. We encourage you to seek professional guidance about the use of supplements, or other treatments, before moving forward.


And take comfort in knowing that our partner clinic (and next-door neighbor), SOUND Veterinary Rehabilitation Center, can offer information and assistance regarding therapeutic modalities and other forms of recovery support, including physical rehabilitation, laser therapy, nutrition guidance, acupuncture, and much more. Together, SOUND and ASCS are your local experts in rehabilitation, sports medicine, regenerative medicine, pain management, and surgery. We offer the complete package of care for animals with musculoskeletal injuries such as elbow and hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament rupture, arthritis, medial shoulder instability/syndrome, other tendinopathies, bone cancer, post-amputation, and non-surgical or post-surgical neurologic disease.

For more information about any of the procedures or services mentioned, we welcome your call at 206-545-4322.


Posted March 21, 2019 by ASCS in Noteworthy with No Comments and tagged as ,

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