Post-operative Lameness Symptoms

Some common reasons why a pet may limp following surgery include:

Over activity

Despite our best efforts, it is not uncommon for pets to “overdo it” during the recovery process, which can lead to sudden or worsening lameness. Slipping, jumping on the couch, chasing a squirrel, or getting loose, can all be problematic and cause varying degrees of pain and lameness. Most commonly, this is soft-tissue related, but sometimes, it can be more serious. Please call Midwest Veterinary Specialists if this happens so we can help determine the severity of the problem.


Signs of infection include lameness, pain, swelling, redness, or discharge  at the surgery site. Infections most commonly occur due to pets licking or chewing at their incision. In total,  approximately 5% to 7% of TPLO patients develop a surgical site infection, and fortunately most of them can be cleared up with a short course of oral antibiotics. Uncommonly, in 3% of TPLOs, a deep infection associated with the plate and screws occurs and this often necessitates removal of the plate and screws once the bone has healed. At Midwest Veterinary Specialists, we take infection prevention seriously, and use rigorous cleaning and patient preparation protocols, and antibiotic coated sutures and implants.


If a pet is allowed to have too much activity, too early in the recovery process, the bone plate or screws may bend or break. This may require additional surgery if the surgery site is unstable. Thankfully, this is a very rare complication, and occurs in less than 1% of cases. At Midwest Veterinary Specialists, we use cutting edge technology called Locking TPLO plates and screws, which are stronger than traditional methods, to minimize the chance of this complication.

Post-operative meniscal tear

Tears in the meniscus are common in dogs with CCL ruptures and if present, they are treated at the time of their TPLO surgery. Despite having a successful TPLO surgery, however, it is possible for the meniscus to tear post-operatively and result in lameness. Fortunately, this only happens in less than 1-5% of cases. If post-operative meniscal tear does occur, a second surgery to remove the torn portion of the meniscus is be needed to treat it. This can be done arthroscopically (minimally invasively) or traditionally (arthrotomy). Dogs typically have an excellent outcome after removal of the torn meniscus and return to normal activity.