What to Expect Pre- and Post-ACL Surgery

Here’s a quick guide to help owners better understand what to expect when they bring their dog in for ACL surgery.


Generally we ask that patients arrive at the clinic between 8 and 8:30 a.m. No food must be given to your pet after midnight the night before.

A surgical technician will greet you and your pet and answer any last minute questions or concerns. Patient is taken to our surgical pre-operative room. A small amount of blood is collected and analyzed.  Pre-operative blood is very important it allows us to ensure you pet is able to metabolize and excrete the anaesthetics used during surgery.  Pre-operative blood work allows our medical team to ensure your patient is healthy enough to undergo the surgery.

Intravenous catheter will be placed in a front leg of the patient.  Having IV access throughout surgery is highly important (in case of medical emergency IV access can save a patient’s life). The patient will also be given pain medication and antibiotics easily through the IV catheter.  IV fluids throughout surgery help to maintain blood pressure/ electrolyte balance.  Using warmed IV fluids also aids in maintaining optimal body temperature.

The surgical leg is shaved, induction takes place and the patient is moved from pre-op into our surgical suite.


The patient is maintained on oxygen and inhalant gas throughout surgery. Optimal body temperature is maintained with a warm water heating unit on the surgical table. The patient is hooked up to monitoring equipment to maintain vitals.  Surgical technicians are constantly using their skills to monitor the patient as well.  The limb is surgically prepped and the procedure begins.

Post Surgery

Patients remain in the care of Carleton Veterinary Services for two days post operation. During those two days of care, our staff monitors your pet to manage pain and ensure there are no infections. We will also begin some clinic rehabilitation along with icing of the affected area.

After these two days, the patient is returned home with home rehabilitation exercises. The owner returns their pet after two weeks for suture removal and review.  The rehabilitation program begins after this appointment with up to 12 scheduled rehab appointments. These may comprise of  four to six canine underwater treadmill treatments and four to six canine laser therapy treatments.

After the ACL Rehab is completed, your dog will have one final post-rehab visit with the surgeon.

The general timeframe for a complete ACL surgical and rehabilitation program is 12 weeks.