On the Mend: Providing Exercise for Pets After Surgery
After a medical procedure, it is important to rest and heal, but it is also important to get your body accustomed to moving again. Pets are no different than us when it comes to needing a game plan after a major surgery.
Our doctors at Blue Valley Animal Hospital want to help your pet return to function as soon as possible after a major procedure. We provide lots of support for them, but we depend on you to help as well. You play a major role in your pet’s recovery, and providing exercise for pets after surgery often falls mostly on the pet parent.
Talk to Us!
Your pet’s surgical recovery plan is going to be unique to both your pet and the procedure that was performed. A young dog who was spayed will have different needs and restrictions than will an older pet that just underwent an orthopedic surgery such as a fracture repair.
On discharge from surgery, we will go over your pet’s after care instructions. These often include considerations such as:
- Incision and/or bandage care
- Exercise restrictions
- Pain management medications and recommendations
- Potential complications
We will communicate with you about what to expect during your pet’s recovery and what we do and don’t want your pet to be doing.
This is a great opportunity to ask questions or relay concerns about your pet to us. Of course we are always available if questions arise later. Please call us to ask if you are not sure about an aspect of your pet’s care.
Exercise for Pets After Surgery
No matter what procedure your pet had, exercise for pets after surgery is going to play an important role in the healing process.
During the first 24 hours after a procedure, unless otherwise instructed, it is usually best to let your furry patient rest. Most pets are still groggy and a little disoriented from anesthesia and will appreciate being left alone.
Once you begin to engage your pet in activity again, it is best to keep things light. A short walk on the leash may be all your pet is up for. Keeping your pet leashed is important to prevent excessive activity levels and help you monitor progress closely. Avoid retractable leashes that do not allow as much supervision. For most procedures jumping such as on and off of furniture should also be prevented.
Leash walking is advisable until any stitches are removed or your pet has been cleared for further activity after an orthopedic procedure. Keep activity short at first and watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort closely.
A properly sized crate can be your best friend for limiting activity when you cannot be supervising your pet directly. Some pets may need a light prescription to help them relax and heal.
During the recovery period, physical activity is pretty restricted, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise your pet at all. Barring any limitations outlined by your pet’s doctor, you can do things like:
- A puzzle-type toy with a yummy reward
- Teaching a new, low-impact trick such as offering a paw or going to a mat
- Playing a mentally stimulating game such as hiding a toy or treat under cups
- Giving your pet a massage
- Take your pet for short car rides if they are up to it for a change of scenery
- Using passive range of motion exercises to get the juices flowing
Exercise for pets after surgery may not be the most exciting thing, but a good rest and recovery period is vital for healing. The more you are able to encourage rest and careful activity in the first few weeks, the faster your pet is likely to be back to normal.
Don’t forget that we are on your team, too! When it comes to your pet’s care, never hesitate to ask if you need help. We want to see your pet do well just as much as you do.