Following injury or surgery, your dog’s body must be given the chance to heal up. This is particularly important if the legs or spine are involved. Too much rushing about may well cause the original problem to flare up again. In some cases, allowing the dog to do too much can be disastrous, for example it may cause a repaired structure to break or fall apart and mean that your dog needs a further major operation.
Of course, dogs cannot be totally immobilised throughout recovery. They need to be allowed to move about at least a little, to eat and drink, to chew on toys if they want to do so, and to be taken outdoors for toileting (to pee and poo). If your dog is not yet allowed to do these basic activities, then they would generally be cared for within a hospital.
Your vet or surgeon will probably give you a list of do’s and don’ts for your own dog. Important: The exact list varies from patient to patient, so it is essential that you stick to any specific guidelines given to you by your own vet.
A typical list of banned activities in dogs during “crate rest” or “room rest”
If you have been told to confine your dog to either a crate or a recovery room, then the following list of banned activities is likely to apply.
As mentioned above, each case is different, so follow your own vet’s guidelines if they differ from those given here.
- No running, either indoors or outdoors.
- No jumping in or out of the car.
- No jumping on or off furniture or other raised surfaces.
- No walking up or down stairs.
- No ball play.
- No rough play with either children or other dogs.
- Avoid slick floors (tiles, laminate, linoleum) etc. If slick floors cannot be avoided, then help your dog to take extra care when crossing these areas by walking them slowly on a harness and lead.
- For at least the first few weeks following surgery to the hind limb (e.g. cruciate surgery), do not make your dog sit straight.
- Do not exceed the length of lead-walks that have been advised by your vet or surgeon.
Dogs sometimes act on instinct. Even the best-trained dog may surprise us, at times, by running or jumping in response to the doorbell or to something that they have seen through a window. We need a practical solution to avoid this kind of exuberant activity during recovery.
Outside the recovery crate or room, it is your responsibility to keep your dog safe. Do have them on a fixed-length lead whenever outdoors.
As your dog comes out of the recovery crate or room, you need to keep them safe indoors too. Depending on your dog’s size and on whether your floor is slick, you may opt to carry your dog indoors, to have them on a lead indoors, or to keep your hand on the top of their harness to stop them from rushing ahead.
For further tips and advice on coping with practical aspects of the recovery period, do take a look through the section on Frequently Asked Questions. If your question does not seem to be answered on this website, then you are welcome to post it as a comment, or to get in touch by clicking here.