Activities For Dogs After Cataract Surgery

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Introduction

Cataract surgery performed on dogs has around a 90% success rate but it can take several weeks for your dog to fully recover from the operation. A cone must be used for anywhere from a week to four weeks to protect the dog from worrying at their eye, eye drops must be administered to prevent infection and reduce inflammation, and your dog should be kept calm for several weeks to allow implanted lenses to fully heal as heavy physical activity and increased blood pressure can cause the new lenses to rupture or to be slightly dislodged. These restrictions limit the number of activities that your canine companion can safely do while recovering, but there are still a few things you can do to keep boredom from overwhelming them while they heal.

Take a Walk

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Sunny Day
Free
Normal
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Harness
Leash
Activity description

While the act of walking your dog is usually one that can often be managed just a day or two after your dog is released from the veterinary hospital, it does require a little more thought than usual for the first few weeks. It is very important to try and keep your dog relaxed, so jogging and running should be completely avoided during recovery and it’s particularly important to keep dirt and water out of their eyes to prevent infection. Just being outside and being able to see can be very exciting for your pooch, so it is best to keep excursions short, particularly early in the recovery process. 

Step
1
Utilize a harness
A regular neck collar can press against your dog's jugular vein, which can temporarily increase blood pressure to the eye and risk damaging the sutures that fix the new lens in place. A well-fitted harness should be used instead to prevent an unexpected elevation to the blood pressure in the eyes.
Step
2
Place and time
In order to keep the excitement under control, it may be best to walk in a familiar area, possibly even staying in your own yard. Your canine companion is likely to be seeing things more clearly than they have in a very long time, and even the mundane may appear mind-blowing to your pup. Individuals who are recovering from cataract surgery may find the bright light to be uncomfortable, and it may be best to walk your dog fairly early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the brightest part of the day, particularly on sunny days.
Step
3
Pay attention
Extra attention should be paid to what your dog is doing on the walk, especially in the first week or two. While the sutures inside your dog’s eye are in place, the eyes are more susceptible to infection and care must be taken when in areas with dirt and water. If you spot any signs that your dog is overexcited, or if they start barking, which can also cause inter-ocular pressure, you should gently guide them back inside as soon as possible.
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Box Dog

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Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Box
Clicker
Treats
Activity description

This is a fun activity to introduce when your dog’s movement is restricted as it works their minds, typically without causing them much in the way of stress or frustration. This activity works by using only positive behavior shaping methods and removes the stress of having the “wrong” response.This is a fun activity to introduce when your dog’s movement is restricted as it works their minds, typically without causing them much in the way of stress or frustration. This activity works by using only positive behavior shaping methods and removes the stress of having the “wrong” response. 

Step
1
It's a box
Put a box in the middle of the floor. This can be any medium-sized box that you prefer, a wooden box, plastic crate, toy box, or even just a plain old cardboard box. Put the box in the middle of the floor, where your dog has access to it and a clear line of sight from most places in the room. Then either sit down or stand in a place where you can clearly see your pup.
Step
2
Wait and watch
Watch for behavior related to the box. This can be anything from sniffing or pawing at the box to just looking in the direction of the box. Each time that your pooch exhibits a box-related behavior, immediately click and treat. While it may be tempting to point at the box or move it to get your dog’s attention, it is more beneficial for your dog if they figure it out on their own, although looking at the box and positioning yourself so that the box is in between you and your dog are both good ways of bringing attention to the target.
Step
3
Advanced shaping
While the first two steps are usually enough to entertain most dogs for quite some time, some dogs may prefer more of a challenge. For those dogs, this game can become a preliminary step for shaping specific behaviors such as standing on or in the box or moving it from one location to another.
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Interactive Food Toy

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Interactive toy
Dog food or treats
Activity description

Dogs who have recently undergone surgery to remove their cataracts typically require reduced physical activity during the following weeks but using an interactive treat toy of some sort can help to keep your pooch’s mind busy. For active dogs, being inactive can be stressful all on its own; interactive toys that include an element of chewing may also help to relieve some of that stress. Barking also tends to impede the healing process, and these products may have the added benefit of keeping them from barking as much. While there are a number of diverting store-bought treat toys available to keep your dog entertained, many pet parents prefer to make their own treat toys from objects that are commonly found in the home. 

Step
1
Choose a toy
There are several types of toys available to help keep your pup entertained while they go through the recovery process. There are manufactured toys available that are designed to release the treats or kibble when the toy is rolled across the ground or when it is shaken, ones that require a dog to manipulate a small door or sliding panel in the toy to get the reward, and ones that are focused around chewing. You can also create your own puzzles and toys for the dog using household items, such as a muffin tin. (You can either put the food or treats in the muffin cup and top it with a tennis ball, or flip the whole tin over and sprinkle kibble or treats in the crevasses between the cups.)
Step
2
Choose a reward
While filling your dog’s toy with their favorite treat may seem like the most obvious answer, it may not always be the healthiest option. Most dog treats are meant as a supplement to the canine’s regular diet and frequently contain more calories, fat, and sugars; overfeeding these types of treat can instigate or exacerbate diseases and disorders like obesity and diabetes. Fortunately for pets and their pet parents, most dogs are perfectly happy to work for either their usual kibble or a different flavor of kibble and some chewable toys, like several of the Kong toys, have treats designed for them or can be filled with water and frozen.
Step
3
Interact and inspect
Some of the complicated puzzle toys may be more enjoyable for your dog if you help to guide them, particularly with new or tricky puzzles, and they may interact with some of their old toys and puzzles differently than before their surgery, due to their improved vision. Many of these toys do not require much in the way of interaction between the dog and their humans and can help to keep your dog calm and occupied when you are taking care of other things that need to get done. Always check each toy before giving it to your canine companion, and again before putting it away as toys that sustain damage due to chewing or rough play can easily turn into choking hazards.
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More Fun Ideas...

Watch TV

Watching television is an activity that many dogs can enjoy, and it may be particularly beneficial for your dog to watch recent home movies as it may help them to relate familiar voices that they hear to faces that they may not have seen in a while.

Doga

Doga, a form of yoga that involves your dog in your poses, may be helpful in keeping your dog relaxed, reducing the chance of damage to any new lenses. This exercise is most effective in calming your dog if you introduce Doga or make it a part of their routine prior to surgery.

Canine Massage

Massage is an effective way of dealing with stress for both you and your pet. It can also help to lower their blood pressure, leading to faster healing times.

Conclusion

While it is necessary to restrict your dog’s physical activity and excitement level after cataract surgery in order to prevent any spikes in blood pressure, there is no reason to keep them bored or confined. These low-stress activities can help you to entertain your canine companion and facilitate a quick and effective recovery.