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:

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)

Dobi the Doberman-Lab Mix with Torn Knee Ligament (CCL Tear, CCR) & Bad Hips

Testimony of Doberman Rehabilitation –

Tricia’s Thoughts –

“Our old Lab-Doberman mix blew out his knee darting after a squirrel and only narrowly avoided surgery since he had a small amount of stability left.

I reached out to Deb, and I’m so glad I did. Her plan was honestly a lot of work, but it paid off beautifully. Our pup got better than I ever thought possible and even came out of the whole experience with super muscular dog legs!

I love that Deb comes right to your house and works with you in your own environment. A lot of the time we’d look around the house or neighborhood to find good places or items to make drills out of. She’s extremely knowledgeable and worked well with our vet to get him (Dobi) on the right medications and dosages.

On top of it all, you can tell she genuinely cares. That goes a long way with me.

I highly recommend her services for your own busted up dog!”
Tricia E. Austin, TX , Oct. 1, 2016)

(^^Copied from Yelp Review)

Nick’s Thoughts –

Dobi Cavalettis for Rehab Work After 4 Week Intro Program Complete. Other Cavaletti Photos are Under the Photos Section or You May Find Them by Searching Cavalettis.

“When our 10-year-old lab mix busted his knee, he was in rough shape and only narrowly avoided surgery. Luckily, we found Deb and got the opportunity to work with her in person.

She had us read her book before our first meeting. The book itself is in invaluable. It’s a short read, but it lays out a basic plan with lots of explanation and support for each technique. The combined force of the book and Deb’s physical therapy sessions healed our pup more than we thought possible, especially given his age. The program does take work, but the results really are extraordinary.

Whether you can work with Deb in person or not, this book is a must if you have a dog in recovery.”

Nick E., Oct. 1, 2016

(^^Copied from Amazon review)

Rehab Deb’s Thoughts 5/26/17

Dobi’s mom, Trish, found me via this (my) website and reached out to me Dec. 1, 2014.

Trish and Nick performed the work I recommended, and Dobi has maintained very good function through the past couple of years, despite some other health issues. Dobi was almost 10 years old when I met him, and in the past year Trish has reached out to me to confirm with me where to return to in the recovery program after Dobi’s ongoing internal medicine issues were being diagnosed and treated.

Please click on the link below to see a short video of Dobi walking after slightly less than two months of work:

2015 3-17 Dobi Short Indoor Walk Improved

Once a pet caretaker, partner, “parent” works through the program as I have recommended it and everyone has seen the positive results, the same program may be returned to over the years as new injuries or illnesses occur. Sometimes there are new medical or physical situations that require a different protocol than the one I originally recommended. In Dobi’s case, his program could stay almost the same and used toward recovery after new diagnoses.

Rehabdeb, May 26, 2017

Updated with new photos March 28, 2018

How to Use The Homework Guides for Rehab After Dog Knee Injury or Surgery

Intro to the books, found on Amazon here:

 and here…

and elsewhere from a variety of booksellers.

Read the Preface.

Read the Prologue.

Read the whole booklet before beginning the work.

Thank you! Now continue to read this chapter. The above three bullet point sentences were for people who really want bullet points. Both the Preface and the Prologue contain beneficial information, and I think the following contents will answer several questions you might not even know you have!

This homework covers guidelines that may be used after any invasive procedure performed for surgical repair of your pet’s knee after a torn ligament, whether any of the bones were cut or not. Right now it does not matter so much that you know exactly which surgery was performed; the restrictions and care are equally beneficial.

These guidelines are also very beneficial for recovery after surgery for torn meniscus and after surgical intervention for osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) (yes, really, but different from psych OCD) of the stifle (knee) joint. Whichever method of surgery was used, this homework is an excellent place to continue the healing journey!

As I stated earlier, written programs like this were not readily available, if at all, when I first began working officially in small animal veterinary medicine rehab in 2004. I knew from working with athletes and others, as well as from reading related research for several decades, that very slowly progressing, return-to-function programs were needed for our pets, as well.

In light of what I knew, I began using simple post-surgical protocol I developed. The larger discussion, continually, is among varieties of veterinarians who have come to believe in a particular method or methods of surgery to be used to stabilize the knee after ruptured cranial cruciate ligament. Regardless of method used, this intro protocol should be very beneficial toward accustoming the joint to greater amounts of use again, toward improving bone healing, and toward improving bone and muscle strength.

I don’t have the money to fund a large study or the time to ask for it at this point or in recent years. I do, however, have the validation of many veterinarians who have seen the progress of the pets whose caretakers have fastidiously followed my instruction for at least 8 weeks.

Often people see such notable improvement after only 4 weeks that they don’t understand the need to continue to follow through with progressive rehab. In well-established human rehabilitation protocol for ACL surgery, patients are progressed through criteria-based functional activities and evaluations for discharge from rehab are targeted between 4 and 6 months after surgery.*

Is this happening with your pet?

My preference is that people follow at least 12 weeks of rehab protocol for their pets in almost every case. The feedback from situations of which I am aware where this has occurred has been entirely positive.  This homework is an excellent place to continue the healing journey, so take a deep breath and move forward confidently!

Also, as noted, my practice and protocol are based on using the home or a standard vet clinic environment to accomplish functional rehabilitation. I prefer land-based exercise because I find it very practical for most pets and their caretakers after this surgery. You may put your internet researching skills to good use by looking for research data which encourages the use of weight-bearing exercise, where possible, to bring about greatest changes toward healing, including bone strengthening and the strengthening of soft tissue, as well as muscle hypertrophy. The latter is often the reason animals are referred to me; people want to see the muscle rebuilt where it has diminished over time due to injury and subsequent lameness (muscle atrophy).

Some people will want to utilize a clinic and a water treadmill in addition to the instructions in this booklet, possibly because the clinic option is available and their veterinarian has recommended it. Most people do not have the option of a rehabilitation facility for their pet, and that’s okay, because it’s not necessary to have that in order for your pet to recover…so don’t fret!

Regardless, I find that people are really in need of instructions that outline steps they may take to assist the healing and improved return to function of their pet in the home environment. Caretakers usually just don’t know what to do that is proactive and practical at home after pet surgery (or injury!).

I also emphasize over and over that pain control is important to my rehab protocol. If you are not going to use enough pain control to help your pet bear weight on the injured leg, then you should consider using the water treadmill..

It is extremely important for pet caretakers to learn how to control and care for their companions at home after this surgery whether or not they also entrust this aftercare to a clinic for a few hours a week as well. Do collaborate with your vet clinic, yet also learn how to do your part, hopefully aided by the ideas in this booklet.

*You may find out more about the topic of clinic-based human rehabilitation from books like Postsurgical Rehabilitation Guidelines for the Orthopedic Clinician, Hospital for Special Surgery, Department of Rehabilitation, Copyright 2006, Elsevier, Inc.

Instead of Surgery for Torn Knee Ligament in Dogs

Guidelines for Home Rehabilitation of Your Dog: Instead of Surgery for Torn Knee Ligament: The First Four Weeks, Basic Edition (Volume 1)

Here is the link to the Amazon.com site for my booklet of instructions for you to follow after a diagnosis of torn CCL (cranial cruciate ligament, like ACL in people, in the knee) in your dog. Follow these guidelines whether you have decided not to pursue surgery for your dog or you are doing some rehab prior to surgery, “pre-hab”.

These instructions cover four weeks from when you begin to tackle the lameness and injury issues…regardless of when the injury occurred; I sometimes get to work with a dog that has been lame for a year or more after injury, so go by functional rehab time and not necessarily time from injury.

My books should also be available on worldwide Amazon sites, as well as other distribution sites, like Barnes & Noble.

On all other Amazon sites around the world, and on other distribution sites, please search this title and ISBN:

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

  • ISBN-13: 978-0615900476

Thank you, and here’s an excerpt!

Preface

Some of the information contained in this volume has been published previously by me on my websites beginning in January, 2007. Until this particular current publication, I have had available on my various sites (and on some sites that co-opted the material) a general outline for the first four weeks of post-surgical or post-injury rehab because the demand for this information has been so great.

The updated content of this volume is not available on any of my sites, nor has the full content been previously available, and most of the definitive information regarding exercise protocol that is contained in this volume has been removed from my websites and personal social media pages as of this publication.

When I first began publishing a simple home-based plan to the internet, it was only a four-week, progressive walking exercise plan, useful for a variety of rehab situations. A version of that is what is contained in this booklet. What has happened though over time is that I have encountered many situations wherein people have interpreted these basic instructions in contrary ways, often omitting bits they thought they could while still hoping for success and often in a way that has been detrimental to the pet.

Therefore, what this booklet also contains is a more thorough explanation of how to enact the plan well …and enact it simply. There is no “bullet point” version, because bullet points will not describe the details of functional rehab so that the animal receives more benefit while receiving less harm or discomfort. As it is, I continually want to add to or modify bits of this edition, and I have to stop somewhere!

This is the basic edition, the closest you may come to bullet points outside of my professional website.

There is also an expanded edition, which contains more in-depth looks at potential pitfalls and additional remedies, along with greater explanation as to why I believe some therapies are better than others, especially for wellness and healing complementary to a home environment.

Thank you, on behalf of your pet, for taking this time to learn more about the healing methods available for them.

Thanks!

Blessings-