When Can My Dog Climb Stairs After ACL Surgery? Per Health Experts

Are you concerned about your dog’s ACL surgery recovery? It’s not just you. Many dog owners worry about how their canines will recover from surgery in the days, weeks, and months that follow. Here, we’ll go through whether it’s safe for your dog to climb stairs and other post-surgery care advice.


The introduction to ACL surgery is crucial because it enables pet owners and caretakers to comprehend the gravity of the process, the many types of procedures, and the significance of rehabilitation and post-operative exercise restrictions. Cruciate ligament surgery is a significant orthopedic procedure that necessitates careful planning and attention both before and after the operation. Dogs frequently sustain ACL injuries, especially the larger breeds like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. While some canines may heal naturally, the majority need surgery to replace their torn ligaments. ACL procedures come in a variety of forms, including Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA), Extracapsular Repair, Lateral Suture Technique, and more, depending on the degree of the tear. In order to guarantee that their dogs recuperate effectively following surgery, owners must be aware of the exercise limitations and rehabilitation procedures.

What is ACL Surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery is a treatment to repair a torn or damaged ACL. When the lower leg bone (tibia) is moved, this ligament helps hold the upper leg bone (femur) in place and stabilizes the knee joint. Although it can be done on cats and other animals, ACL surgery is most frequently performed on dogs. Depending on the degree of the damage, the torn ligament is either mended or replaced during ACL surgery. The degree of the injury and the size of the dog, among other things, will determine the kind of operation that is carried out. The goal of ACL surgery is to help the knee joint regain stability and a normal range of motion so that your pet can resume normal activities as soon as possible.

Types of ACL Surgery

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA), Extracapsular Repair, and Lateral Suture Technique are the four primary ACL surgeries performed in canines. As it stabilizes the joint and aids in reestablishing a more typical biomechanical environment, TPLO is regarded as the industry standard. TTA is a useful technique to help move the tibial tuberosity, which helps take pressure off the ACL. A strong substance is used to assist replace the torn ligament with the aid of extracapsular repair. The Less Invasive Lateral Suture Technique employs sutures to assist lessen pain and increase stability. For your dog’s leg to heal properly after ACL surgery, specific rehabilitation and exercise guidelines must be followed. In order for your dog to recover from ACL surgery as quickly as possible and to climb stairs safely, it is crucial that you carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

The Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) is a common ACL procedure for dogs. The tibia, or top of the shin bone, is sliced and reshaped during surgery to stabilize the knee joint following an ACL tear. Light exercise should be introduced six weeks after surgery for this kind of surgery, and your pet must stay immobile for six weeks after the procedure. Your dog shouldn’t be permitted to run, leap, or engage in animal play during that period. Most dogs can resume full physical activity after six months. Giving your dog the prescribed drugs as directed by your veterinarian is important for pain management both during and after stifle (knee) surgery. You should take further measures to protect your pet’s safety once they are well enough to climb stairs. You can keep them safe and prevent further injuries by ordering them to sit or stand before climbing stairs.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)

ACL surgery for dogs known as tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) is gaining popularity. It entails the tibial tuberosity’s advancement, which aids in stabilizing the knee joint. This therapy is a successful way to repair torn CCLs and can be completed using minimally invasive methods. Dogs must be restrained from exercise for 8–12 weeks following this treatment and kept on a lead or harness to prevent jerky movements or jumping. After this time, the amount of exercise can be gradually increased, and 6 to 8 weeks after the operation, your vet may assess the geometry of your dog’s knee. If all goes well, most dogs can resume their normal physical activities within six months.

Extracapsular Repair

An ACL tear can be repaired with a minimally invasive surgical method called extracapsular repair. The ends of the torn ligament are reattached using sutures. For dogs with mild to moderate ACL tears, repair can be a successful alternative and frequently takes less recovery time than other surgical procedures. It is crucial to keep in mind that this sort of repair might not offer the same amount of stability and protection as other procedures, and that a full recovery might necessitate further rehabilitation exercises. Pet owners must also limit their dog’s activities for at least six weeks and give them support while climbing stairs during this healing period.

Lateral Suture Technique

\ACL surgery using the less invasive Lateral Suture Technique is relatively new compared to TPLO and TTA. The ligament is fastened to the bone using non-absorbable sutures, lowering the possibility of problems following surgery. Smaller dogs may benefit from this procedure’s shorter recuperation period, which is typically 6 to 8 weeks. Owners are encouraged to keep their pets on a leash and refrain from letting them run, jump, or climb stairs. After ACL surgery, the same safety precautions still apply, and owners should make sure that their pet is watched while using the stairs. After this kind of ACL surgery, the majority of dogs make a full recovery with the right care and rehabilitation.

Exercise and Rehabilitation Restriction

Recovery from ACL surgery requires both rehabilitation and exercise limitations. For the ligament to mend properly, dogs should engage in little exercise and spend the majority of their time off their rear legs. Access to stairs must also be restricted since a dog recovering from ACL surgery may find them unsafe. Normally, it takes 4-6 weeks for the ligament to fully recover for the dog to be able to climb stairs once more. Owners should make sure their animals aren’t running, jumping, or doing anything else physically demanding that could put stress on the joint at this time. To keep their pet safe, they might also need to restrict access to stairs by shutting them off with baby gates or other safety precautions.

How soon after an ACL operation can my dog climb stairs?

Your dog has to avoid stairs for at least four to six weeks following ACL surgery in order to allow the ligament to mend. Exercise should be restricted to brief leashed walks during this period; running or jumping is not permitted. Depending on your dog’s size, stairs might be fine after the first two weeks, but you must always keep an eye on your pet and assist them when they climb by using a towel sling. By week eight, your pet will have a radiograph taken by your veterinarian to make sure the bones have healed properly before allowing it to resume normal activities. It’s crucial to keep in mind that full recovery following knee surgery requires time and patience.

After ACL surgery, safety advice for climbing stairs

When taking the stairs, always keep an eye on your pet and, if required, support them with a towel sling. After the procedure, medium and large dogs may begin utilizing the stairs, but only with supervision and using a towel sling. In order to allow the ligament to mend correctly following surgery, your dog must refrain from using the stairs for at least four to six weeks. Running, leaping, and swimming are prohibited for the first eight weeks after surgery in addition to exercise restriction. After an ACL operation, you should wait at least ten days before letting your dog climb stairs. Also, as part of their recovery, give them leashed walks for 10 to 15 minutes each day.

After ACL surgery, how to care for your dog

Making sure your dog is appropriately cared for after ACL surgery is crucial. Exercise limitation is one of the most important parts of this. Following cruciate ligament surgery, your pet needs to be completely laid up for six weeks. This means that your pet should not be allowed to run, jump, or climb stairs, and should be kept in a compact space. Additionally, for the first ten days following surgery, you shouldn’t take a bath or go swimming. After four to six weeks, your dog could be able to start climbing stairs, depending on the type of ACL surgery it had. However, your vet might suggest delaying before letting them use the stairs. When permitting your pet to climb stairs, it is crucial to follow your veterinarian’s advice and exercise caution; using a ramp or lifting your pet can reduce the danger of re-injury. In the end, you can assist assure a good recovery by giving your dog the proper post-ACL care and according to professional advice.

Common Side Effects Following ACL Surgery

It’s crucial to keep an eye on your dog for any potential issues after the first recuperation from ACL surgery. Infection, slow wound healing, edema, and ongoing lameness are typical consequences. Any surgery carries the potential of infection, which needs to be handled swiftly if it does. Poor suture placement, insufficient joint immobilization, or inadequate rehabilitation are just a few of the causes of poor wound healing. Swelling may be a symptom of an infection or a hematoma or seroma developing at the surgery site. Soft tissue damage, infection, inappropriate suture placement, and poor rehabilitation techniques can all contribute to lameness. Contact your veterinarian right once if you see any symptoms. Your pup can heal rapidly after surgery and resume normal activities with the right care and therapy!

Injury and re-injury prevention

Following an ACL operation for their dog, pet owners place a high priority on avoiding injury and re-injury. Running and jumping must be avoided for at least 8 weeks after surgery in order to protect your pet’s knee. To stop your dog from attempting to climb the stairs at this period, you should also think about closing them off or putting a baby gate. In order to guarantee that the ligament has enough time to mend properly, your dog must also get enough physical therapy and exercise limits as advised by the veterinarian. Your pet should fully recover with no future issues if the right safeguards are taken.

Q: Can my dog use stairs after ACL surgery?

A: It depends on the specific instructions provided by your veterinarian. In many cases, dogs are advised to avoid using stairs or limit their stair usage during the recovery period after ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. This is to prevent excessive strain on the surgical site and aid in the healing process.

Q: How long after ACL surgery can a dog go upstairs?

A: The recovery time and specific guidelines may vary depending on the dog’s individual case and the surgical technique used. Generally, dogs are restricted from climbing stairs for a few weeks to a couple of months after ACL surgery. It’s crucial to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and gradually reintroduce stair usage based on their recommendations.

Q: How soon after ACL surgery can you climb stairs?

A: The timeline for resuming stair usage after ACL surgery varies depending on factors such as the dog’s progress, surgical technique, and veterinarian’s advice. Typically, it is recommended to wait for a few weeks to a few months before allowing a dog to climb stairs again. It’s important to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your veterinarian for a safe and successful recovery.

Q: Can a dog with a torn ACL climb stairs?

A: If a dog has a torn ACL, it is generally recommended to avoid or limit stair usage. A torn ACL can cause pain, instability, and further damage to the joint. It’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action, which may include surgery or other treatment options, as well as guidelines for stair usage during the recovery process.