(Starts approximately eight weeks post-operatively, after radiographic examination)
Once radiographs have confirmed bone healing, usually around eight weeks post-operatively, the rehabilitation regime is started. During this period, your dog's activities are gradually increased to build muscle, stretch scar tissue from surgery, and strengthen bone healing. The degree of activity should progress with your dog remaining comfortable. Since increasing duration, not intensity, is the goal, explosive activities such as running, jumping, or playing are not allowed during the rehabilitation period.
Throughout the rehabilitation process your dog is allowed to go as far as it is able while remaining comfortable. To judge its comfort, watch your dog when it gets up following exercise and rest. If keen and excited about more exercise, then it is comfortable. If your dog gets up with stiffness and complaint, then the amount of activity should be reduced.
No swimming is allowed until Week 7 of the rehabilitation regime –i.e. 15 weeks after surgery, (to reduce the risk of patella ligament strain).
Weeks 1-3 (following post-operative radiographic examination)
The first three weeks of activity following the eight-week confinement period are comprised of progressively longer walks, with your dog on a short lead. Begin with a five minute walk and see how it responds. If your dog does well, continue at this distance for a few days. If it remains comfortable during this time, double the distance of the walk. Continue doubling the distance of the walks every few days as the dog's comfort level permits. If it appears to be uncomfortable with the increased distance, cut the length of the walk back to the last distance at which it was comfortable. Your dog will benefit more from several short walks in one day rather than a single long walk. Rather than going from one 10 minute walk to one 20 minute walk, go for two 10 minute walks instead. It will still be getting twice the activity but the exercise will be split up throughout the day.
During this period, the walks are continued with the dog on a longer lead, such as a 10-15 foot lead or a flexi-lead. You will need to cut back the length of the walks you are doing as the longer lead allows your dog the freedom to trot back and forth, increasing its use of the leg. We usually recommend that you quarter the distance of the short lead walk that you are currently doing. As distances are difficult to judge at this point, it is important to monitor the dogs comfort level closely during this stage of rehabilitation.
At this stage of the rehabilitation, your dog is allowed very mild activity off lead. Continue with the long lead walks and start letting your dog have time off the lead in the garden, under your supervision. The area should have no other animals or distractions around. The off lead activity should occur after your pet has had a lead walk, to get some energy out of its system. Start with 5 minutes off lead following a walk. As with the walks, double the time your pet is spending off lead in the garden every few days, as long as comfort level permits. Your dog should remain under your voice control at all times.
No jumping, chasing a ball, Frisbee, or playing with other dogs is allowed. Avoid any activities where the dog's full concentration is thrown into the activity without regard for its body. Swimming is now allowed but explosive water entries must be avoided.
Each dog's rate of rehabilitation will vary but we would expect your dog to be able to freely exercise comfortably by six months, post-operatively.
Pain relief for arthritis may still be required and we can discuss with you the option of dispensing a nutriceutical for your dog, to help with articular cartilage repair.
A final check up at the end of the rehabilitation process is needed before full activity is resumed.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your dogs healing or rehabilitation process,
please call the surgery during our opening hours.
Springwell Veterinary Surgery
Tel: 01442 822151
Fax: 01442 827963