Author: Hélène Le Pommellet   Date Posted:24 November 2022 


Why Cryo-compression Therapy is Beneficial to Dogs in the Immediate Post-op Phase



The underlying theory:

Following trauma, including surgical trauma, cryo-compression aids recovery contributing to analgesia, limiting further tissue damage and by reducing inflammation oedema and bruising.

The application of cold therapy helps prevent hypoxic cell death.(1,2) The reduction in the tissue temperature inhibits enzymatic activity slowing the metabolism in cells suffering local hypoxia.

The application of cold also induces local vasoconstriction reducing the local microcirculation. (3-5) Vasoconstriction limits blood extravasation, local inflammation and oedema formation. (6)

Compressing the surgical site will help limit local peripheral oedema, moving accumulated interstitial fluids toward healthy surrounding tissues with a higher capacity of drainage thanks to intact lymphatics. (8-10)

The synergistic effect of cold and compression leads to faster and deeper cooling of the tissue as well as faster reduction of oedema. (8, 11, 12)

There is an analgesic benefit to all of the above effects; reduced cell death, oedema, bruising and inflammation. The analgesic effect is enhanced further by the decreased conduction in sensory and motor nerves by the cold. (7)


A controlled study in dogs (13):


“Comparison of two cold compression therapy protocols after tibial plateau levelling osteotomy in dogs” 

This study is a must read on cold compression therapy, supporting the fact that its use in the immediate perioperative period (just before and just after surgery) has beneficial effects on patients. 

It increases the range of motion of the patient in the first 24h, 48h but also at 42 days post surgery.

Patients also had lower pain and lameness scores on day 1 after surgery.

Interestingly, applying cold compression immediately (within the hour) before surgery, decreased the need for painkillers during the first 36h after surgery. 


A cryocompression therapy brace designed for veterinary application:


Cryotherapy brace with compression for dogs


How to place (in French use English subtitles)



The cryocompression brace for dogs is available in 3 different sizes. See size chart with recommendations if fitting to the stifle. The brace can be applied backwards to fit the elbow or a smaller size can be used in the distal limb. 


Code Description Height Circumference tight Patient weight 
VET20ACS Small 26 cm  29 cm 15 - 25 kg
VET20ACM Medium  28 cm 31 cm 25 - 35 kg
VET20ACL Large-  30 cm 35 cm 35 - 50 kg



Examples of the applications of the brace in dogs:


Proximal Hindlimb

  • Surgery of the stifle: arthroscopy, arthrotomy, CCL and MLP surgeries, 
  • Fractures of the proximal tibia (Tibial crest avulsion and other Salter Harris fractures, metaphyseal and diaphyseal fractures)
  • Fractures of the distal femur (epiphyseal, metaphyseal and diaphyseal fractures)
  • Distal femoral and proximal tibial osteotomies, for patella luxation and to correct angular limb deformities

Proximal Forelimb

  • Elbow surgeries (arthroscopy, osteotomies and elbow fractures)
  • Fracture of the proximal radius.

Distal limb 


Recommendations for the use of the brace:


  • 8 hours in freezer before use
  • Patient must lay on the other side
  • Apply stockinette before application
  • Maximum 10 squeezes of bulb to inflate (brace to remain comfortable)
  • Leave on for up to 20mins but no more for optimal effect
  • The dog is not walked with the brace on


  • Just before surgery
  • Immediately post-op
  • 3-4 times daily for up to 5 days for additional benefit


Help realise the best possible outcomes following your orthopaedic surgeries with cryo-compression therapy




1.     Wright JG, Araki CT, Belkin M, Hobson RW 2nd. Postischemic hypothermia diminishes skeletal muscle reperfusion edema. J Surg Res. 1989;47:389–396.

2.     Ohkoshi Y, Ohkoshi M, Nagasaki S, Ono A, Hashimoto T, Yamane S. The effect of cryotherapy on intraarticular temperature and postoperative care after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Am J Sports Med. 1999;27:357–362

3.     Ho SS, Coel MN, Kagawa R, Richardson AB. The effects of ice on blood flow and bone metabolism in knees. Am J Sports Med. 1994;22:537–540.

4.     Knight KL, Londeree BR. Comparison of blood flow in the ankle of uninjured subjects during therapeutic applications of heat, cold, and exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1980;12:76–80.

5.     Thorsson O, Lilja B, Ahlgren L, Hemdal B, Westlin N. The effect of local cold application on intramuscular blood flow at rest and after running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1985;17:710–713

6.     McMaster WC, Liddle S. Cryotherapy influence on posttraumatic limb edema. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1980:283–287.

7.     Meeusen R, Lievens P. The use of cryotherapy in sports injuries. Sports Med. 1986;3:398–414.

8.     Meeusen R, van der Veen P, Joos E, Roeykens J, Bossuyt A, De Meirleir K. The influence of cold and compression on lymph flow at the ankle. Clin J Sport Med. 1998;8:266–271.

9.     Chleboun GS, Howell JN, Baker HL, et al. Intermittent pneumatic compression effect on eccentric exercise-induced swelling, stiffness, and strength loss. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1995;76:744–749.

10.   Ko DS, Lerner R, Klose G, Cosimi AB. Effective treatment of lymphedema of the extremities. Arch Surg. 1998;133:452–458.

11.   Barlas D, Homan CS, Thode HC Jr. In vivo tissue temperature comparison of cryotherapy with and without external compression. Ann Emerg Med. 1996;28:436–439.

12.   Merrick MA, Knight KL, Ingersoll CD, Potteiger JA. The effects of ice and compression wraps on intramuscular temperatures at various depths. J Athl Train. 1993;28:236–245.

13. Niklas von Freeden, Felix Duerr, Michael Fehr, Christian Diekmann, Cornelia Mandel, Oliver Harms. Comparison of two cold compression therapy protocols after tibial plateau leveling osteotomy in dogs. Tierarztl Prax Ausg K Kleintiere Heimtiere. 2017 Aug 10;45(4):226-233.doi: 10.15654/TPK-170049. Epub 2017 Jul 26.



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