Post-operative cruciate ligament care for dogs



Cage rest

Your pet must be strictly rested for the first six weeks following cruciate ligament surgery.

This means:

  • Your pet should be confined to a small room or quiet area for the six-week rest period
  • Only short (maximum 10 minutes) exercise is allowed – your pet may be slow walked on a leash in order to go to the toilet


Things to avoid
  • Walking up and down flights of stairs, jumping up or any uncontrolled activity
  • Slipping when walking on wet or smooth surfaces as this places strain on the recovering limb


Post Operative Exercises

After surgery, there are a number of good exercises you can perform with your pet once the bandages have been removed. To best help your pet make a speedy recovery you must:

  • Allocate time for two or three exercises sessions each day.
  • Concentrate on all joints in the injured limb, not just the affected knee joint.


Exercises to perform each session
  1. Flex and extend each joint on the injured limb a minimum of 10 times.
  2. Cycle the injured limb through its full, pain free range-of-motion 10 times.
  3. DO NOT FORCE THE JOINTS OR CAUSE PAIN. It is very important that you gently manoeuvre the limb through a range of motion that causes your pet no discomfort

Longer-term follow-up and care

There are a number of follow-up and general strengthening exercises that you can perform with your pet after the six-week rest period has expired. It is also highly recommended that your pet to receives a radiograph of the operated joint to see how the healing process is coming along.

1) Controlled leash walks for periods of no longer than 20 minutes twice a day.

2) Sit and stand exercises. These can be done during leash walks simply by commanding your pet to “sit” and, just before it assumes the sitting position, the “walk- on” command is given. This routine should be repeated 10 or more times every walk as it helps build up the rear leg muscles, which is highly important in your pet’s rehabilitation.

3) Running and jumping should be avoided until at least week 12 of recovery.


Between weeks 8 and 12:

  • Exercise can be increased slowly to 30-minute to 40-minute sessions.
  • Deep-water swimming is encouraged – no longer than 15 minutes several times a week.


Keep in mind that pets recover at different rates but if your pet is not at near normal activity levels by weeks 12–16 an appointment should be made for reassessment.


If you have further questions regarding any aspect of post-operative care, do not hesitate to call us at one of our practices and our friendly staff will help you in any way they can.


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