Our Dog Tore Her ACL

how we prepared for Hazel's dog tplo surgery dani austin

Raise your hand if you’re a fur mama! If you’ve got fur babies at home, then you know how scary it is when your pet acts strangely. Early in 2020, Jordan and I noticed that Hazel, our 4-year-old mini golden retriever, wasn’t herself. She was walking with a limp and wasn’t playing. She didn’t even want to throw the ball around with Jordan 😔. Hazel is an active girl, so this was concerning. We were REALLY hoping it wasn’t ACL-related because recovery is a nightmare…

We took her to the vet ASAP and they told us the bad news: Hazel had torn the ACL in her back left leg. Apparently this is a pretty common issue with retrievers, but the recovery process is NO joke. Hazel has to be watched pretty carefully for the next 3-6 months. She’ll have to be as immobilized as possible – like no jumping, and no stairs. She can walk, but really she should stay still as much as possible. The screw could pop out if she extends the leg and could puncture her, causing more damage. 

Here’s What Happened…

Picture this: our surgery is scheduled for last Friday – and I am in full-on mom-mode. We bring her in and are prepared to take care of her all Valentine’s Weekend, buuuut it doesn’t exactly go to plan. They put Hazel under and shave her for the surgery when they notice a stomach rash that she’s had for a while. We have literally brought her to the vet SO many times for this rash, but they’ve all said that it’s fine. We even told the surgeons beforehand, but they were still unable to move forward with the surgery. They were afraid that the infection would spread to the open incision on her ACL. They recommended using a diluted bleach solution to bathe her in to get rid of the rash.

Soooo here we are. It’s so hard to think of our girl stuck on the couch for the next six months. We’ve come up with some methods to keep her happy and healthy while she recovers:

how we prepared for Hazel's dog tplo surgery dani austin

1. Baby Gates.

hazel acl baby gate

NO STAIRS ALLOWED for our girl, so we’re trying to remove the temptation! We have multiple sets of stairs in our home so we needed a couple of easy gates to keep her contained.

2. Brain toys.

hazel acl brain toy amazon

hazel acl brain toy snuggle puppy

Since she can’t really play physically, we want to find some ways to keep her mind stimulated so she doesn’t get depressed. These types of brain toys will hopefully keep her occupied! 

3. Dog stroller for walks. 

hazel acl stroller

This is literally parenting practice lol! We want to take Hazel on walks so she still sees the world and feels included with Lola! We’ve already tested this stroller out a bit… I think she likes it, Jordan thinks she doesn’t, soooo we’ll see what happens lol!

4. Calming chews.

premium care stress and anxiety calming chews duck flavored hazel

I’m afraid that Hazel might get a little anxious being cooped up so much, so I’ve gotten her some of these chews to help.

5. Dog bed.

dog bed amazon hazel Lola

We don’t really mind the dogs being on the couches, but I’m so happy we’ve found some good dog beds for them too! Both of the pups LOVE these – Hazel has the medium, and Lola has the small.

We will reschedule the surgery as soon as the rash clears up, and then operation Keep Hazel Safe begins! These are my ideas so far, but if you have any experience with this, please leave a comment and let me know what else we can do for Hazel girl. Has this happened to your pup? How did you handle it?


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  • Reply
    Heather mikel
    February 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    My dog has had this surgery twice. GET AN ECOLLAR so they are less likely to be able to lick the spot. Trust me. My dog would and I would be panicking

  • Reply
    February 20, 2020 at 12:20 am

    My dog just had a tplo surgery. It’s been rough but getting better every day. Have you used those calming chews before? Do they work?

    • Reply
      Dani Austin
      February 24, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      That’s good to hear! Praying for your pup. We haven’t used the calming chews yet because her surgery was delayed but I’ll try to update you on them!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2020 at 2:10 am

    Hi Dani! I’m so sorry about your baby girl 😥 I work at a canine orthopedic and rehab center and we deal with this type of procedure every day!! Check out our website It has some great information about post OP recovery that might be useful for Hazel girl! I wish all the best and a speedy recovery for your furry baby girl ❤

  • Reply
    February 20, 2020 at 2:26 am

    Our dog had his surgery 2 weeks ago. It was the lateral suture and he did not need the tplo. Be ready with pee pads for the first 48 hours. We were lucky that our dog peed first thing in the morning after the surgery. The pill pockets were worth every dollar as she would need 3 pills I think for the first 2 weeks. Space out the medicine like 4 hours in between, like the anti inflammatory drug then the tramadol so her pain level is kept a minimum (if it applies)good luck!

  • Reply
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