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 🙂