Soft bedding will help keep your dog warm and encourage rest. Include items that smell familiar to your dog if possible, as this will help him or her to feel at home.
Above: As in Lynley Dodd’s story, dogs feel more at home with familiar blankets and bedding.
A cushioned pad to sleep on
Provide a cushioned area large enough for your dog to lie on fully-stretched out. You could use your dog’s usual soft bed if there is plenty of room for it inside the crate or pen. However, some dog beds have a raised edge which is too high to step over during recovery. A bed shaped like a flat pad is generally better.
If you don’t have a dog bed available, then use a folded blanket to create a soft lying area. A piece of vet bed placed on top will make this even nicer to lie on.
Soft floor space next to the dog’s bed
It is usually necessary to include both some bed space and some standing space inside the crate or pen. For comfort, it is best to cover the non-slip matting next to the dog’s bed with vet bed, toweling, fluffy bath mats or even artificial turf. This gives your dog a comfortable space to stand when they are looking out of the crate, eating or drinking.
Above: Bella’s old bed fitted nicely into her recovery pen. The bed’s edges were raised, but she was able to step over these safely and she made an excellent recovery from cruciate surgery. The remainder of her pen was lined with fluffy bathmat placed over non-slip rubber matting. She often chose to rest on the bathmat, and this was where she’d chew on Kongs and play with other toys.
Be aware that some dogs will chew anything to hand, and that this could make them very ill. Keep a close eye on your dog to start with, as items may need to be removed if your dog turns out to be a persistent chewer.
Bedding for collapsed dogs
A few dogs are unable to stand up unaided. For example, this is the case for those worst-affected by severe trauma or unusually-severe spinal disease. These animals need a piece of extra-thick padding that is large enough to lie on fully stretched-out. If the collapsed dog is recovering in a crate, then the entire base of the crate must be thickly padded to help prevent pressure sores.
A large, flat foam dog pad can be used, or you may opt to order a flat block of high density foam cut to fit the base of the crate from an online supplier. If there is a gap between the edges of the crate and the foam pad, then pad this out carefully, e.g. with rolled blankets. You don’t want your dog to roll off the pad and get stuck in that gap.
In an emergency situation, a folded quilt or several layers of blankets could be used as the basis of bedding for a collapsed dog while foam bedding is unavailable. On top of the padding, place a layer of vet bed or a towel for extra absorbency and softness. Have spares available in case of soiling. Disposable incontinence pads can be placed directly under the dog if required.
Above: The bed should provide enough space for the dog to lie stretched-out. Harry had been unable to stand unaided for months, and this foam bed had helped to keep him comfortable and prevent bed sores.
If your dog is unable to stand, then he or she may need you to help position them for eating and drinking. The totally-collapsed dog will also need turning at least every four hours to help prevent pressure sores. Rolled or folded towels are sometimes useful for propping a dog into a comfortable position, and cushions or gel pads occasionally prove useful as extra padding. The needs of each patient are different, so ask your dog’s vet or hospital discharge nurse for details on positioning, padding and turning.
Extra bedding to stop draughts
Do crouch down and check for draughts at dog level, particularly at night. You may need to tuck a blanket between the crate and the house wall to stop a draught. Some people wrap a cot bumper around the crate. Others find that their dog settles best if the crate is partly covered with a sheet or blanket. It is usually best to keep at least one side of the crate uncovered to allow for some airflow, and so that you can check on your dog.
Above: Tiggy the dachshund has made her way into a fabric pouch to keep warm. Tucking the bedding up around the edges of the pen also helps to reduce draughts. Photo courtesy of M.Randall.
For more information…
Try the following links for more advice on caring for your recovering dog: