There is nothing worse than your pet being unwell or being in pain and feeling that there is nothing that you can do to help them feel better.
The good news is that while orthopedic surgery is undoubtedly a huge event for your pet to recover from, there are many ways in which you can help to speed up their recovery.
First of all, having invested the time and money in having surgery performed on your pet, make sure you follow your vet/ specialist’s advice with respect to the nature and location of your dog’s bedding in the immediate weeks after surgery, and administer all the medications dispensed for your pet.
It has been proven that pain delays wound healing, so even if you think your dog doesn’t look like they are in pain (they are masters at hiding when they are in pain!), it is important to use the pain relief medications that your vet has prescribed for the length of time advised.
In addition to these medications, natural pain relief modalities like heat/cold therapy, laser therapy, massage and acupuncture can also be massively successful at keeping your pet comfortable during this period, as well as assisting with improved blood flow to the area to aid in rapid wound healing. These therapies are safe and effective, when performed properly by qualified personnel, and can make a big difference to the comfort of your pet. Best of all, your rehab professional can teach you how to do some of these therapies (eg massage & heat therapy) at home, so that you can play an active role in your pet’s recovery.
Secondly, the type and nature of exercise post operatively should be very carefully monitored. Too much movement can create instability and cause problems with wound healing, as well as predispose your pet to further issues. However, an appropriately performed exercise program under the supervision of a qualified rehab professional can make the difference between how well your pet recovers, as well as the speed at which they recover. A home exercise plan can also be provided for you to assist with your pet’s recovery, and provision of short videos and home exercise sheets will give you the confidence to know that you are performing these exercises with your pet properly.
It is important that your vet is happy with your pet’s progress post-operatively before other therapies such as hydrotherapy can be started, but working together with your vet, an animal physio/rehab professional can formulate a personalized strengthening and exercise program to help get your pet back to their normal life as quickly as possible. These programs are tailored to your individual pet, and can be used either alone, or in conjunction with braces, to protect your pet from further damage.
Hydrotherapy can assist in getting your pet back on their feet quickly and safely. The buoyancy of the water provides a safe environment for your pet to learn how to balance again without risk of falling, the warmth of the water can assist with keeping your pet comfortable by soothing their aching muscles, and the resistance of the water creates strengthening of their core muscles to get them mobile again.
As your pet progressively strengthens post-operatively, your pet’s exercise regime can be altered over time to move from the initial recovery phase to lifelong strengthening exercises in order to try and prevent the occurrence of another orthopedic injury further down the track.
After all, getting your pet back to their regular lifestyle and mobility is what we all want to achieve, and keeping your pet active and happy is just as important to us as it is to you!