After injury or surgery, the first few weeks of recovery can feel like a challenge to many dog owners.
Start by speaking to your own vet. They can assess your dog, advise you, prescribe medication, and perhaps refer your dog if needed. There’s also plenty of practical home care advice available on this website.
Dogs with back or neck problems (including ‘IVDD’)
Finding advice on this website for a dog with a back or neck issue:
The IVDD Handbook. For much more complete advice on caring for a dog with back or neck problems, we recommend The IVDD Handbook. Packed with pictures and practical guidelines, this is the ideal home reference for dogs with IVDD (‘slipped disc’). It’s also very useful for dogs with certain other issues including ‘spinal stroke’ (FCE) and traumatic disc.
First aid for dogs with possible IVDD. To download a PDF of first aid advice, click here. This is an extract from The IVDD Handbook.
Going for surgery. Might your dog need spinal surgery? If so, speak to your vet about possible referral to a neurologist. A list of UK specialist veterinary centres recommended by dachshund owners can be viewed by clicking here.
Equipment loans (UK only). Are you a dachshund owner in the UK? If so, you might be able to loan home recovery equipment from the registered charity Dedicated to Dachshunds
Dogs with conditions affecting their joints, bones or muscles
Dogs with problems such as cruciate disease or patellar luxation need special care during their recovery. Perhaps you have been told to put your dog on crate rest or room rest or perhaps you have not yet been given much guidance.
Safe activities during recovery
The following activities must be avoided during recovery:
- jumping (e.g. on and off the sofa)
- leaping about
- rough play (with children or other dogs)
- ball play
- stairs (going up or down)
- moving over slick flooring
Each dog has slightly different needs. So if your own vet or surgeon has advised you regarding safe activities and exercise for your own particular dog, do take care to follow their guidelines.
A little slow walking is generally safe (unless specifically banned by the dog’s surgeon), as is standing calmly on all four paws. Chewing on toys is usually safe, though it’s important that your dog doesn’t throw toys into the air and then chase them.
As recovery progresses, your dog may be allowed to walk for longer. Do follow any guidelines provided by your surgeon. For more information about do’s and don’ts during recovery, click here.
Crate rest or room rest
In many cases, the only way to keep your dog safe is to put them into a secure, comfortable recovery space. This could be a crate if you can get hold of one big enough for your dog. Or it could be an open-topped pen if your dog definitely won’t jump out. Or you might set up a room in your house to be a recovery room for your dog. Try the following links for more information:
Crate rest summary
Choosing a recovery crate
Where to put the recovery crate
Room rest summary
Choosing a recovery room
Above: Dogs musn’t jump onto furniture or race about during recovery. In some cases, the best option is to set up a recovery room in which they can stay safe whenever they’re off the lead.
A comfortable recovery space
Your dog needs to be as comfortable as possible in their recovery space for good recovery. For a start, the crate or pen must be large enough for them to lie fully stretched out, and to sit, stand and turn around easily, and it should offer enough space for your dog to eat and drink as well as to lie down.
It’s a good idea to introduce your dog’s recovery area to them gradually if at all possible. Remember to set the recovery space up as a pleasant area before your dog even sees it.
Do include soft bedding, food, water and something good to chew on such as a food-dispensing toy.
You may find the following links useful:
Introducing your dog to the recovery crate or pen
Keeping your recovering dog calm and content
Toys for recovering dogs
Above: Dogs need enough space to lie stretched out during recovery. If a crate does not provide enough space then room rest may be preferable. The dog sketch above is ‘Bonnie’ by artist Abel Kesteven.
Outside the recovery crate or room
You will of course need to take your dog outside for regular ‘toilet breaks’ (to pee and poo). It’s important to follow your vet’s guidelines regarding how often to take your dog outdoors and on how long these outdoor sessions can be. In case they haven’t advised you, a good starting point is typically 4 to 5 toilet breaks per day, with each outdoor session being no longer than 5 minutes.
You’ll need to take special care to keep your recovering dog safe whenever they are outside their crate, pen or recovery room. A harness, fixed-length lead, and non-slip floor matting are all very useful. The following links offer more information on keeping your dog safe through the recovery period:
Keeping your dog safe outside the recovery crate
Keeping your dog safe outside the recovery room
Harness for recovering dogs
Choosing a lead for recovery
Walking with your recovering dog
Above: It’s essential to keep your recovering dog on the lead whenever outdoors.
A regular routine is important during recovery. Recovering dogs cope better once they learn when to expect meal times, toilet breaks, and any quality time spent with the owner. It is also helpful to set aside quiet times during which your dog should expect no interaction from you (especially during the night, of course). For details on the daily routine during recovery, try the following links:
Crate rest daily routine
Room rest daily routine
Problems during recovery
Some dogs need extra time to accept the new routine during recovery. If your dog won’t settle down in their crate, pen or recovery room, click here for advice.
You might also find the following links useful:
Keeping your dog calm and content
Staying positive during your dog’s recovery.
Above: Staying cooped-up at home can be miserable during the recovery period. Bella the dachshund was only allowed to walk for brief periods, but she enjoyed getting out and about in a dog pushchair. (Photo courtesy of J. Austin)
Booking an appointment for rehabilitation advice
This website 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. There’s also a page of Frequently Asked Questions.
For further advice specific to your own dog, consider booking a consultation appointment. Of course, always speak to your dog’s usual vet first. Click here for further information on what to expect from a video consultation. Home visit appointments are sometimes possible on referral for for those who live local to me in North Herts, UK. However, availability for visits is limited.
For dogs with back or neck problems (e.g. IVDD, FCE or traumatic disc)
The IVDD Handbook 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 or the UK 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.