It is essential to keep your dog safe following injury or surgery. Too much rushing about can be disastrous, for example it may cause a repaired structure to break and mean that your dog needs a further major operation. Your vet may have advised crate rest to help prevent any exuberant activity.
Some activities are not safe during recovery
Crate-rested dogs are generally not allowed to run, jump, to play with balls, play roughly with other dogs, use stairs, or rush over slick flooring. Your vet may have given more specific guidelines for your own dog, as the list of banned activities varies from case to case.
The crate is a handy tool if used well: While your dog is shut inside, he or she cannot run, jump or access stairs, other dogs, balls or slick flooring. However, you must also keep your dog safe outside the crate. At the very least, you will need to get your dog outside for toileting several times a day (i.e. to pee and poo). You may also need to bring your dog out of the crate for various other reasons, including for brushing, perhaps to sit together now and again, and eventually to start short lead-walks.
Above: There is little point in putting your dog on crate-rest if you do not also control his activity during periods spent outside the crate. For safety, jumping about must be avoided until very late in recovery.
Many dogs will dash about as soon as they are released from the crate. Some will make a bee-line for the sofa and jump straight up, perhaps without hesitation. Even if your dog usually walks about the room calmly, they might dash across the house unexpectedly, for example in response to the doorbell. It’s therefore essential to keep close control over your dog whenever they are outside the crate.
Above: Dogs are not allowed to jump on or off the sofa during the crate-rest period. Watch out – many dogs expect to be allowed on the furniture, and will make straight for the sofa on being released from their crate.
Do keep your recovering dog on a fixed-length lead whenever outdoors.
You’ll need to encourage your dog to walk slowly so as to give him a chance to place each foot properly. It’s also a good idea to time your dog’s walks. Your vet may have advised you regarding how long the walks should be. It’s important not to exceed this. For more advice on walking your recovering dog, click here.
Above: It’s important to keep your dog safe and slow on the lead.
A well-fitting walking harness is safer than a neck collar, headcollar or slip lead. The harness fits around the dog’s centre of gravity. Attaching the lead to the top of the harness encourages the dog to spread his weight more safely over all four paws. Out on a walk, you dog might see a squirrel and pull to run off. In that case, a harness and lead acts a safe set of brakes. If the lead is instead attached to a collar or headcollar, then your dog’s rear end has more of a chance to spin around before he slows down. Also, a lot of force goes through the dog’s neck if using a neck collar, headcollar or slip lead, especially at that moment when he tries to run at a squirrel or cat. NB: If your dog is unusually strong and you feel that you need a headcollar to avoid being pulled over, then it’s worth using a double-ended lead: Attach the main end lead to the top of a harness and use this as your main “set of brakes”. Attach the other end of the lead to the headcollar just in case it’s needed for additional stopping power.
During recovery from spinal injury and from some joint issues, a dog stroller or pushchair is useful for smaller dogs. For safety, keep a close eye on your dog in the pushchair, and remember to clip your dog’s harness to the safety clip whenever he’s in there. Introduce the pushchair gradually, starting with short rides on smooth paths.
Above: Honey the dachshund enjoys the winter sunshine and the view from her stroller. Many thanks to Stephie Warren for this video clip.
You must also keep your crate-rested dog safe indoors. Take care that your dog does not run past you as you open the crate door. It’s a good idea to leave a well-fitting harness on your dog when they are in the crate. As you open the crate door, you can put your hand on the top strap of the harness. This will stop your dog from slipping out past you. This then gives you time to attach a dog lead or to lift and carry your dog.
It is strongly-recommended that you put down a large piece of non-slip matting outside your dog’s crate door if your floor is at all slick. A rubber-backed rug would be perfect. It is not a good idea for your recovering dog to step out of the crate onto smooth tiles or laminate flooring.
Depending on your dog’s size and on whether the rest of your flooring 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.
You may now be interested in the following links:
Further information: Getting advice
For general advice on helping your dog through recovery, feel free to explore this website. It contains plenty of practical tips. A good place to start is at the introduction page accessed by clicking here. This website also contains guides to crate rest, room rest, IVDD, and many further links via those pages. For a summary on recovery from cruciate ligament disease, click here. You may also like to look through the Frequently Asked Questions. If you need advice specific to your own dog, then I suggest that you book a consultation appointment.
Booking an appointment
To book a veterinary assessment and physiotherapy session with The Rehab Vet (Herts, UK) please use the contact form or call or text on 07852 625317. Please note that this number is for appointments only and is not an advice line. 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.