Even the smallest of surgeries are invasive, and in most cases that means restricting how much activity your pet engages in to ensure healing and complete recovery. If a pet moves too much after a surgery, there’s a risk of wounds that don’t heal or heal slowly.
We know that it can be hard emotionally and strategically, to confine your pet, but it is the only way he can get better. Confinement is ‘house-arrest’ or restriction to a limited area in an effort to prevent prolonged physical exertion.
The smaller the dog, the smaller the confinement space. For a large dog, a very small bedroom might be fine (remove furniture that could encourage jumping). A medium sized dog could be kept in a large crate or bathroom and with small or toy breeds confinement to a crate or pet pen is recommended. Also, a high-energy dog will need to be confined to a smaller area than an inactive dog.
Depending on the surgery, your dog might be confined for almost 24 hours per day, perhaps for weeks at a time. This space will become your dog’s world, so do take care to set it up comfortably. 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 / pen gradually (over several days if possible).
Here are some tips to keep your pet happier and more entertained during confinement – which will hopefully make it a bit easier for you:
- Food-dispensing toys filled with pumpkin or low fat peanut butter are great for cheering up bored dogs, or only give him his favorite plush toy while he is in the pet pen or crate. The right toy(s) can entertain your pet for hours!
- Make ice cube popsicles (without the stick) with low sodium chicken broth in an ice cube tray. Pets love the taste and have to take the time to lick the broth while it melts!
- Keep your other pets in another area (out of site out of mind).
- Keep a radio or TV on for your pet to listen to so he does not feel so isolated.
- Spend lots of time with your pet—snuggling and talking – this can go a long way toward keeping them calm and speeding up recovery.
- Your pet will feel better before his confinement is over. DO NOT let this fool you. Your pet needs to be examined and cleared from your veterinarian before you allow your pet to become active again. This is why rechecks are so important. If a pet is allowed to be active before totally healed, it can cause enough damage that the entire process has to be started over.
Keeping your pet confined:
- Your pet must be kept inside in a clean, dry, area with just enough room where he can lay down, stand and turn comfortably.
- The ideal place to confine your pet is a crate or pet pen. If that is not possible, we recommend a small space in your home, such as a bathroom or laundry room, where he has no risk of injury and no furniture to jump on/off from.
- The crate or pet play pen should be near an active spot in your home, or a large window or sliding door.
- Crates and pens can be moved outside on nice days (out of direct sunlight) to provide additional stimulation.
- Absolutely no running, jumping, or playing allowed. This includes both inside the home, and outdoors.
- Whenever outside the crate, pen or recovery room, your dog must be either carried, or be on a short lead.
- Do not allow your pet to go up or down the stairs. If you have stairs, carry your pet up and down. If your pet is too big to carry, secure areas to prevent access.
- Slippery floors? Consider placing some non-skid rugs in high traffic areas to prevent falls.
- When going outside for your pet to use the bathroom, place dogs on a short leash that does not allow for any running (a short training leash is perfect). It is best not to have your other pets outside during this time.
- Set up a regular daily routine that includes set times for toilet breaks, feeding times, some quality time spent with you, and quiet times for rest.
- Reward your dog for good behavior with praise and small food rewards. Avoid punishing your dog during recovery.