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Dogs After Surgery or Illness

Taking your pet home after illness or surgery can be daunting. Below are some tips to help you feel more  prepared and make your pet’s rehabilitation easier, safer and more comfortable. The suggested adaptations are usually temporary.

Rest is important for rehabilitation, and crate or room rest is recommended for recovery. This aims to avoid injury  from jumping, slipping and going up or down stairs.

What Size Crate Does Your Dog Need?

The area should be big enough for your dog to stretch out, sit upright and stand with extra space for food  and water. 

A crate should be safe, secure and sturdy.  If your dog will not try to  escape, open top pens can be used to provide more space, especially for larger dogs.  Ideally the crate should not have a raised lip as this may be too high for smaller dogs.

Where Should You Place The Crate?

If your dog is social and becomes anxious when separated, being in a busy area of the house may be best. Conversely if your pet likes time alone and becomes unsettled easily, a quieter area may be better. Your  dog won’t be able to leave if they are unsettled, so be mindful if your pet is easily upset by loud noises.

Keeping Your Dog Comfy

Covering part of the crate can settle anxious pets and provide them with a safe den. Check for any draughts at floor level to make sure your pet is comfy and warm. If your pet has reduced mobility or has had cervical spine (neck) surgery, raised feeding stands (or books  for small pets) can help.

Tips For Room Rest

If your pet is unsettled in a kennel (for example, chewing the bars or digging constantly) or is a large breed, a play  pen or confinement to a single room may be more appropriate.

The recovery room should be one level with step free access and non-slip flooring.

Blockades may be needed to deter your pet jumping on furniture and baby gates can be used to block  stairs and doorways.

What Bedding Should You Use?

Comfortable bedding encourages rest, avoids sores and reduces stiffness. Washable bedding is ideal in case of accident, or incontinence/puppy pads can be used. You might want to consider setting up the bed before introducing your pet, which can help a positive association.  A blanket with a familiar smell can help your pet feel at home.  

Padded areas should be large enough for your pet to spread out. This can be created with a dog bed,  folded blankets or vet bed, and bear in mind that some pets may struggle on duvets if they are unsteady. A firm, stable area may help with balance when standing, eating or drinking. 

Things to Avoid

Avoid beds with raised edges early in recovery so your dog doesn’t have to climb into them.

You can avoid your dog getting stuck in gaps or bars whilst they are unable to move themselves away by padding the edges of the crate, and cot bumpers or rolled blankets can help too.

Avoid placing the bed close to radiators to avoid thermal burns.

Keeping Your Dog Happy While They Recover

Keep Them Entertained

Hard wearing chew toys, food dispensers and slow feeders can provide entertainment and aid  environmental enrichment. To avoid weight gain your dog’s daily food can be split into feeding toys. If  your dog is known to chew and ingest toys or you are giving a new toy supervision may be necessary.  Avoid toys that your dog may need to chase. Fruit and vegetables such as carrot sticks can be given as  healthy treats. ‘Ice lollies’ can be made by filling a Kong (or equivalent) with food then frozen. Lick matts and snuffle blankets can also be given under supervision.


Keep A Routine

Regular routine is important to relieve stress for yourselves and your pet. Routine can include regular  toilet breaks, rehabilitation exercises, feeding time, rest time and relaxation for you to enjoy each other’s  company.

Reduce Anxiety

If your pet is anxious being left alone a radio, music or audio book on low volume may help. Pheromone sprays and diffusers for animals such as pet-remedy can reduce stress.

Change the Scenery

Your dog may not be allowed for their usual walks but they can be driven or carried to different walks. Consider taking your dog with you to dog-friendly cafes or pubs, this can be rewarding  for social dogs. For some dogs a dog pushchair can be useful if they will not try to jump out. This is also  helpful in multi-dog households. In mild weather your dog can be taken into the garden to relax with you  as long as they are secure either with a harness or pen.


Be Careful on Slippery Flooring

Some floors may not feel slippery to you but are for your pet, especially if they are unsteady. Running or  walking on a slick floor (e.g. laminate and wood) can risk injury. 

Areas of non-slip floor should include the crate, the main room your pet will live in, the pathway outside and  initial steps out of your bed where extra grip is needed.

Temporary non-slip options include rubber backed rugs, runners and door mats, industrial matting, yoga  matts, matting designed for children’s play areas, bath matts, non-slip matting available at most flooring  stores and rubber backed vet bed.

Equipment to Look After Your Dog at Home

Harnesses & Support

Harnesses allow support, control and comfort. A comfortable harness may be left on if your dog is prone to rushing out of their bed or when out of the  pen. This avoids having to grab your dog which can be damaging. Y front harnesses offer the greatest support

Further support such as slings may be needed too. For short term use and minimal support, a towel or scarf may be used, but longer term considering something like the Pet safe rear support Rantow support harness is advised. 

A fixed, rather than extendable, leash is advised.


If your dog struggles placing their feet this can create sores. Boots may be used to protect their feet, such as:

There are many more available, so please get in touch if you  need guidance.

Travelling By Car

If you have a large dog a secure boot with comfy bedding is advised. For smaller dogs a comfortable  travel cage may be required. Once your dog is able to sit for extended periods then a seat belt harness  can secure your dog.  

Your dog will need lifting in and out the car. If your dog is large, multiple people or a ramp may be  required. 

Bathing Your Dog

Bathing your pet is not recommended as baths are slippery and any surgical wounds need to stay dry. Instead, a ‘bed bath’ is recommended. You can also get dry shampoo specifically for pets such as those in the Pet Head range.

Each pet’s requirements differ, so if they have been a patient at Swift please ask in your daily update for further advice. If you  need any support please do not hesitate to contact us or ring on 01937 374888.