Crate rest summary

Your vet may have advised a few weeks of ‘crate rest’ if your dog is recovering from injury or surgery. Confinement to a crate or indoor dog pen helps prevent your dog from damaging themselves by running about, jumping on and off furniture and using the stairs.

“Your dog needs to stay safe and comfortable during recovery”

This  can be a challenging time for dog owners, so do read on for more information. A quick summary of helping your dog through the crate rest period is included on this page. For more detailed information, follow the clickable links. Advice is also available for dogs going through room rest

Above: This is a good-sized crate for a small terrier like Mac. He did well with this set-up, but some dogs would need a bed without raised edges.

Your dog will be in their crate or pen for nearly 24 hours per day, perhaps for weeks at a time. This space will be their world for much of this time, so do take care to set it up comfortably. For general tips on keeping your dog comfortable during the recovery period, please click here.

Above: Running, chasing and slick floors are too risky during recovery.

A quick summary: if your dog is in a recovery crate or pen…

  • Choose a sturdy, purpose-built crate. An open-top dog pen can be used if your dog will definitely not try to escape.
  • The crate should be big enough for your dog to lie fully stretched out, to sit or stand facing in a choice of directions, to yawn and stretch, to eat, and to lick or chew at toys. Room rest may be a better option if your dog is too large to fit comfortably into a crate or dog pen. Discuss this with your vet. 
  • Choose a position for the crate that will stay comfortable all day and all night.
  • If possible, get the crate or pen before it is really needed. Set it up comfortably with bedding, toys, food and water before showing it to your dog. Introduce your dog to the crate gradually (over several days if possible).
  • Cover the base of the crate with non-slip matting. Put comfortable bedding on top of this.
  • When opening the crate or pen door, take care that your dog does not try to run out past you. If you leave the dog wearing a well-fitting chest harness, you can use its top strap as a safety ‘grab handle’. 

Above: It’s healthy for dogs to stretch during recovery. The crate or pen should give your dog enough space to stretch and to change position comfortably. 

A few further tips on keeping your recovering dog safe and comfortable

  • For safety, most recovering dogs must avoid running, jumping, stairs, ball play, rough play and slick floors. Check with your vet as to what your own dog is allowed to do.
  • Choose hard-wearing chewable toys for your recovering dog. Food-dispensing toys such as filled Kongs are particularly good as boredom-busters. 
  • Make a regular daily routine for your recovering dog. This should include toilet breaks, feeding times, some quality time spent with you, and quiet times for rest.
  • Reward your dog for good behaviour with praise and small food rewards. 
  • Whenever outside the crate or pen, your dog must be either carried, or on a lead.
  • A harness is better than a collar during recovery. A harness with a Y-shaped front is best. You will also need a fixed-length lead (not an extendable lead). 
  • Keep your fingers tucked into the harness while sitting and relaxing with your dog outside the crate, pen or recovery room.
  • Walk very slowly when your dog is on the lead. This helps your recovering dog to use each paw properly.

For more information…

Try the following links for more advice on caring for your recovering dog:

Keeping your recovering dog calm and content
Choosing a recovery crate or pen
Daily routine for the recovering dog
Bedding for recovering dogs
Flooring for recovering dogs
Toys for recovering dogs
Staying positive during your dog’s recovery

For dogs with IVDD: further information to help them through recovery

This website contains plenty of information about caring for a dog with back or neck issues. Try going to IVDD and clicking on links on that page to start exploring this free resource.

For a complete and practical guide to home care, we recommend The IVDD Handbook. This is a comprehensive home care guide for dogs with IVDD (disc extrusion or ‘slipped disc’). It’s also suitable for those with certain other back or neck problems including FCE and traumatic disc. Use this book in conjunction with talking to your own vet. It contains:

  • clear practical guidelines for each stage of recovery
  • illustrated how-to guides for everything from sling-walking to home exercises
  • notes on when to contact your vet
  • an illustrated guide to understanding your dog’s surgical report
  • advice on keeping your recovering dog happy and content
  • a section on maintaining your own wellbeing while caring for your own dog
  • example daily routines suitable for dogs at each stage of recovery
  • hundreds of colour photos showing what to look for and how to help your dog
  • an index, glossary and colour-coded chapter to help you find information fast

How to get your copy

Click here to buy or look inside The IVDD Handbook.

The above link should redirect you to your country’s Amazon site.

Order the book to be delivered to you from the US if you live in Australia, New Zealand or Singapore. For further details, click here

Links to the book on this page are provided as part of the Amazon Associates program. Buying the book after clicking on one of these links will earn the author a small commission, thus contributing to the ongoing running of this website. 

Booking an appointment

For bespoke supervision of your own dog’s recovery, you are welcome to contact me to arrange a video consultation appointment. To book an appointment, use the contact form here or email me at [email protected]. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Please note that these contact details are for appointments only. I offer home visit appointments, when appropriate, for dogs and cats living near me in North Herts, UK. Video consultations are available for both local and distant patients. 

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