Rehab for Pet Surgery – 3 Steps

 

Spaniel dog with plastic Elizabethan collar on her

Jicky the Spaniel in the E-Collar after FHO

A quick bit of info for you after your pet has had surgery.

I do work on lots of cats and a variety of other animals. If you want to know more about cat specifics now, please search for cat in the search box. I’m still working on developing the cat information pages.

For more specific info on a particular condition, please refer to the menus at the top of the page. If you do not see what you are looking for, please use the search box on any  page.

If the injury is a torn knee ligament, then please click here to read more info about that condition. After that, please go to the instructions on this page!

“My pet just had surgery…
…and now that I’ve gotten them home, I realize I’m not really sure what to do!!”

First and foremost:  pay attention to the discharge instructions your veterinarian has given you if your pet just had surgery or you have received instruction about an injury.  Please pay special attention to the part about no running, jumping, or playing. You and your pet will be doing good work for recovery if you exactly follow my booklet instructions.

If your veterinarian did not say so, please note there should not be any flying over couches, no galloping on stairs, no jumping into or out of cars and trucks,  no jumping onto couches or your bed, no jumping off of couches or beds, no twisting very fast in tight circles, no sliding on ice or slippery floors, and no freedom in and out of doggie doors.  No owner jumping out from behind things to scare the dog into running crazy funny around the house like you sometimes like to do.

No running really means no running…

…to the door when the doorbell rings, no running away from Halloween costumes, no running from one end of the house to the kitchen every time the fridge or a plastic bag is opened, no running to you when you yell to ask the dog if it wants to go outside, no kitty running from anything right after surgery, and no running inside after the ball, which is very similar to no running outside after the ball. No, no swimming until at least eight weeks after surgery and then only if no lameness is present at a slow walk.

DO work on the protocol below and the info contained in the instruction booklet.

1) Here are guidelines to follow for the first four weeks after surgery:

I currently have published one book to help your pet through four progressive weeks of recovery after any surgery.

Guidelines for Home Rehabilitation of Your Dog: After Surgery for Torn Knee Ligament: The First Four Weeks, Basic Edition

This book is specifically addressing surgery after a torn knee ligament. Until I am able to publish the books I am working on that deal with soft tissue surgeries, hip issues, other knee issues, elbows, spinal issues and more, this book will be very helpful to you for the first four weeks of recovery if your dog has had one of these other surgeries.

This book has the information, restrictions and advice I would give after almost any surgery. If you follow the restrictions and the practical applications in the booklet, your pet should do well and recover progressively if there are no additional issues.  These restrictions will match a lot of what your vet surgeon gave you to follow after surgery.

My recommendations are based on decades of information we have in human sports medicine recovery. These methods matches up very well how your pet thinks and moves and behaves. This program matches up scientifically with how the body recovers.

These instructions incorporate steps  for functional recovery, so there is a LOT more structured and guided info in the book. The links to the book I made for this page will take you to Amazon. You may order the book from any bookstore using the ISBN.

I also have info elsewhere on this site about cats and surgery. Cats aren’t small dogs. Unless your cat will walk on a leash, which some do very well, I recommend looking at this page for now.

So, the following book will help you calmly and methodically approach recovery from your pet’s surgery. The book will guide you to establish a functional base of activity.  You have to build a good base to help recovery and to of avoid additional injury. This is only the base. I have more strengthening programs and other drills for you to do to return your pet to a rambunctious lifestyle.

A good recovery plan helps guard against future or further injury, especially in the opposite limb! I am very happy to report that people and dogs that follow both this and the non-surgical program for 12 weeks do not end up with the other knee ligament tearing. It’s all a matter of balancing the work. I design programs based on decades of experience with exercise physiology recovery principles.  My programs also help encourage people being connected to their pets!


Amazon

Books are also available on Barnes and Noble and you should be able to order them from any bookseller, especially if you use the ISBN.

Instructions for first four weeks for dogs after FHO (hip surgery where the ball of the femur is cut off):

Instructions for first four weeks after surgery for luxating patellas (flopping kneecaps):

Find a few more homework info pages by following the links in the menu at the top of the page.  Also use the search feature.

2) In addition to thoroughly reading any of that info (some of which now includes exercises available in book form), please watch > this video < twice, and begin to do this massage daily for a month:

Please watch the video to see my recommendations on method of use for massager unit AND so you will hopefully have success introducing the massager.

There are written instructions under the video on the linked page.
Here is what the massager looks like, and if you click on the picture, you may buy it on Amazon if you choose:

Homedics brand hand-held massage unit with four feet

3) If your pet is still limping 5-7 days or more after surgery, please read this > pain post < all the way through!

There is more on the topic of pain within the books-

Check out other resources under the “Rehab Resources & Tools” link in the menu under the website title at the top or by clicking here

If you would like advanced or personalized exercises, then please contact me for a consult. There is a contact form at the bottom of this page <<Click on link . Use this form if you would like to schedule a paid phone or in-person consult with me for rehabilitation for your pet.

Blessings-
Rehabdeb

(Original Post March 17, 2015. Updated July 29, 2019)

How Do I Find Help for My Pet on This Site?

There is a lot of information on this site!

I have posted a lot of information about rehabilitation for pets on this site. You should find directions that are very helpful to you and your pet’s situation, even if I don’t directly answer your specific question yet on this site.

  • In the menu section you should see a few question-based topics. If you see what you want, click on the topic.
  • There are detailed choices under each topic. You should see cascading menus with many choices.
  • If you don’t want to read all the available choices (I’ve tried to condense them), then just skip to the search box and try searching a couple of your ideas.
cat with neurological problems in a harness and cart I built to help teach her to walk again
Tiny the Cat in Her Mobility Mover

More Tools-

I have also made posts for you to see some of the products I use to work on healing and recovery with your pet. I will be adding to the helpful tools section as time allows and when I find products that truly work in the field.

A lot of tools and ideas marketed to people for pet rehabilitation are a waste of time and money. I want to help you to streamline your rehab work and use tools that really work to help your pet!

Check out the list of the top five posts people read on this site. This list is to the right of posts on a desktop/tv and at the very bottom of the page on phones or tablets.

I will be adding to the choices of conditions on my injury and surgery pages. I have explained more on those pages about how to use the rehab steps to help you with your pets orthopedic or neurological problem diagnosis.

Saint Bernard in a cart to help support her while she walks

The Website and My Work-

I write all of my own posts, design all rehab programs for clients, perform most of the IT work on this site, oversee IT messes & posts on all my other social media, manage client communications, and perform *all* the other work associated with running a business. It’s very time-consuming, as you may know, and I don’t have administrative help/support. I don’t update this site as much or fast as I’d like to. There are lots of IT errors and there are lots of topics I have yet to cover! Now I’m working on streamlining this site as fast as I am able while I play catch-up 🙂 Thanks for your patience! If you would like to contact me, please go to this page.

Rehabdeb

Updated June 28, 2018

Top 5 Tips For Successful Dog, Cat, and Other Pet Rehabilitation After Injury or Surgery

Here they are!

The top 5 tips to help you and your pet get back to doing more of the things you like to do together:

 

Crate with white plastic rails a client put in her bedroom for her Dachshunds after spinal surgery. Example number 1 of top 5 tips dog, cat rehabilitation
Small Dog Crate for Bedroom

1) Do only controlled exercise in a sequential and methodical manner and otherwise restrict your pet as much as possible.

The exercise programs I have developed and that I and others have applied to thousands of cases work extremely well. I consider them to be like Goldilocks’ porridge…not too much and not too little. Resist the urge to jump ahead into advanced drills or harder work if you haven’t put in the time to build a solid foundation. Please do not only keep your pet crated, and, more importantly, do not allow any loose activity outdoors or indoors during recovery! Crates are great, and I want them to be used. I also want you to use them or other tight restrictions along with a competent exercise recovery program!

 

Bag of freeze-dried duck hearts links to purchase on Amazon to help give medications2) Give all medications as your pet’s veterinarian has prescribed them, especially antibiotics…especially pain meds…especially all medications 🙂

My booklets and other posts on this site explain this in more detail. I have written a lot about pain in this post: Pain & Limping . I included info about pain and infection in that post. Pain is the top reason people contact me after a pet is injured or has had surgery. I know some medications are hard to dose, so I have posted some links to products that can help without using unhealthy options (unhealthy=Cheeze Whiz, marshmallows, most dairy, etc…you probably already know) on my Resources & Tools page. Pain=limping=pain. Surgery also = pain…so either way, surgery or no surgery, your pet most likely needs pain medications.

 

Spaniel dog wearing an Elizabethan collar to keep her from licking her hip where she had FHO surgery
Jicky E-Collar after FHO

3) Use the e-collar after surgery.  

The Elizabethan collar (e-collar) is the best and fastest way to allow healing and stop pets from licking their injury or surgery site. Based on my extensive experience fixing messed-up stuff after surgery, I can tell you there aren’t any other great options available that work as consistently well as the e-collar.

Some pets will pull it off if you don’t tighten it down to 2 fingers placed flat under the neck tie. If your pet pulls it off, that is usually due to operator error (yours or mine or vet clinic staff). The e-collar is very important.

I’ve dealt with the resulting problems when people don’t use the e-collar. There are many reasons people don’t use the collar. Maybe it’s because the pet crashes it into everything around the house, or the people say “he doesn’t like it”. The problems I deal with when the collar isn’t used are ruined surgeries, dogs licking an area on their bodies down to the bone, cats fussing with the staples or sutures and pulling them out, extensive infections that sometimes cause loss of life, etc.

I recommend people keep the e-collar on the pet until about 2 days after suture removal. Have you had stitches? Surgery? The sutures can cause itching when removed, as you may remember if you’ve had them. Often nerve reactivation to the surgery area can cause the area to “feel weird”.  Keep the collar on your pet. More often than not this move will save you and your pet a LOT of trouble!

 

Dog walking in a backyard in a harness, close to person, doing controlled cavaletti work
BJ Cavaletti Work in Harness with Short Leash

4) Use a good harness with a very short leash to control and protect your pet if you are walking them. 

I discuss this at length in my books and videos. Harness and leashes I recommend are here. Use a harness and not the collar when you are working on rehab with your pet. Use a super short leash, keeping your pet close by your side so they don’t hurt themselves.

 

 

 

Cat doing cavaletti work by walking and stepping over tv clickers lined up on a bar top
Casey Cat Doing Cavaletti Work

5) Don’t cut corners.

Unless you have extensive experience with physical recovery science applications in a variety of settings, don’t change the rehab plans I recommend. You and your veterinarian most likely won’t know when you can shorten a program without doing damage to your pet. If you cut corners, you also run the risk of not getting the same positive results following the plan brings. It’s easy for me to help clients to see where their omission or addition of parts of the plan turned the recovery plan the wrong direction. Since I don’t get to work one-on-one with most of you in person, I return to recommending that you find a well-described plan and follow the plan and not add to it and not cut corners 🙂

 

Parting thoughts…

My list of recommendations could go on and on, yet these are the top 5. I made this list based on problems from many cases over many years. Like so many things in life, pet rehab can be very easy, yet it’s our wrong thinking about solving the problems that often stands in the way of following a good program well. Feel free to write and email using the contact form if you have had a learning experience with any of the recommendations I listed above. If I think it’s helpful to others, I will publish it under this post!

Blessings-

Deborah

Updated Jan. 19, 2018

Thank you 🙂