Hopefully most of you will never have to nurse your dog through a major accident, illness, or surgery. But if it does happen, here are some ways to ensure you (and your dog) survive the experience.
- Learn to lift your dog so he feels safe and you don’t hurt yourself. You may have to carry your dog up and down stairs for the time of his recovery. If your dog is too large to lift, you may need to make alternate sleeping and potty arrangements.
- Buy new, safe toys that are fresh to the dog and will allow her to burn off excess energy. Safe toys include the Kong and Nylabones.
- Train your dog instead of exercising him. Simple tricks like targeting, go to bed, and stay won’t stress the body but definitely works the mind–sometimes an even more tiring prospect.
- If possible, share shifts of caregiving a partner or friend. I’m off work this week but when my husband gets home, he takes over all puppy duties–carrying her out to the yard, feeding, and being vigilant that she has absolutely no fun. Without him, I’d go crazy.
- Rely on aids to prevent chewing or picking, if necessary. The Elizabethan collar never fails but most dogs hate it and it may be overkill if your dog isn’t harming himself. Can you do the same thing by tying a sweatshirt on your dog or using a bandage? Always ask your vet’s advice first.
- Just because your dog is in recovery doesn’t mean she should be spoiled. If you don’t allow barking or whining for attention when your dog is well, make sure you don’t allow it when she’s convalescing or you’ll have a new behavior problem that will long outlast the rehabilitation.
- However, do try to pay attention to your dog’s needs. Remember, he’s being denied all he most enjoys (jumping on furniture, eating junk food, chasing squirrels). Try to put yourself in your dog’s paws and anticipate what he’ll need to make this time of enforced rest more bearable.
- Groom your dog. Some dogs love the attention. Why not take advantage of this quiet time?
- Try pet massage. Massage can stimulate circulation and be very relaxing. Once again, ask your vet before you start to be sure massage will benefit your dog.
- Find a project to keep you in one place for a long time so you dog doesn’t have to keep waking up to find you. I decided to make sundried tomatoes on the dashboard of my car (if you want to know how it turned out, drop me a comment). Honey was perfectly content to sleep at my feet while I sliced and de-seeded dozens of tomatoes.
Now, if your dog had too busy a day hiking or is recovering from spay surgery, you’ll be prepared for convalescence (no, you won’t; but maybe this will help a bit).
Off to play (slow & easy) crate games with Honey.